Boxing Day Flower Count – 2014

Iris unguicularis 'Walter Butt'
Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

This is the fourth year I have done a flower count on Boxing Day.  I had noticed when weeding on Christmas Eve that there seemed to be quite a few flowers around presumably due to the recent mild weather, so it will be interesting to see how things compare.

I am particularly thrilled that Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ is in flower.  Last year it flowered at the start of December and although the plant is strong and healthy so far this month there had been no sign of flowers but Christmas Eve morning saw this wonderful elegant dainty flower fluttering in the breeze.

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This double hellebore has been flowering for weeks, in fact months, since I bought it from a plant sale in October.  It is also covered in buds which means it should continue flowering for some time.  There are lots of other hellebore buds appearing including the Christmas Rose (Hellebore niger) but as yet they are still in tight bud so I can’t really count them.

Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Viburnum rhytidophyllum

The Viburnum rhytiophyllum continues to flower, really lighting up the back corner.  The Abelias which were in flower this time last year have gone over so can’t be included but the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ as per the last two years has its first few flowers coming out. Still no flowers on the Mahonia which I butchered two years ago, it is really putting on good growth so hopefully next year I will be able to include this in the count.

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The prostrate Rosemary is also starting to flower and is already becoming popular with bees.

Then we have a whole range of primulas which are flowering away.  They are looking a little battered and I noticed when I was weeding two days ago that many seemed to be being eaten by something – I am assuming slugs.  The weather has been so mild and wet it wouldn’t surprise me that the slugs are still active.

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The Viola orduta has also been munched as you can see from the top petals. I have come across some small caterpillars when tidying up so they might be causing the damage.  I shall have to keep an eye on them.

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The Jasminum nudiflorum has responded well to pruning earlier in the year and I think I am getting the hang of this unruly plant.  However, it is proving harder to photograph as the flowers seem too shy to be photographed.

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Finally the first outside snowdrop – Galanthus Ding Dong’ – has started to flower.  I had hoped it would be fully open for today but I suspect the distinct drop in temperature today has made it hesitate in opening.

There are also two different types of bedding cyclamen flowering and a rose whose bloom opened a c0uple of days ago. In the greenhouse the only flowering plant is Primula palinuri.  This is the first time the plant has flowered having been grown from seed probably two years ago.

The total plants flowering on Boxing Day 2014 is 17 which is up on the last three years when I recorded 12 each year.  Also, with the exception of the Primula palinuri all the other plants are outside which is a huge improvement on last year when a significant number were in the greenhouse.

You can access the previous counts here.

Boxing Day 2013

Boxing Day 2012

Boxing Day 2011

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. mattb325 says:

    This is a great experiment (reminds me a little of the Gardeners world tulip experiment) to track the effects of seasonality vs longer term climate trends….it could yield some really interesting results. That hellebore is just superb, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a double here in Australia….

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Matt
      See Susan’s comment about suppliers of double hellebores in Australia

  2. Julieanne says:

    You have a lovely collection flowering, showing just how much can be in flower in a milder winter; well, until a couple of hours ago when the snow hit! That Iris is really gorgeous. Beautifully photographed too. Do winter Irises need to be in full sun to flower?

    As mentioned on twitter, I love the colour of Primula palinuri. It’s like a little burst of sunshine. And now I know what the grey powder is called: farina.

    All I have flowering is Primula guinevere. One of my hellebores is about to flower, and some chives have also come up again ready to flower, but I’m guessing the snow (we have 4 inches of it here in Sheffield) will stop that now.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Julieanne
      They need a sheltered sunny spot with good drainage.
      Avon Bulbs sell them

  3. rusty duck says:

    I must get a winter iris. It’s lovely to see flowers at the end of December.
    I can offer up snowdrops in bud and hellebores but the most remarkable are a couple of roses still flowering from summer and a camellia at least a month early!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      I do have a rose which has flowered in the last two weeks and one of the camellias is groaning with buds which hopefully means a good display in a month.

  4. Susan says:

    Double Hellebores in Australia, see Peter Leigh, Post Office Farm Nursery for some of the best. Also many of the current doubles have been bred from the big white double ‘ Betty Ranicar’, who originally popped up in a garden in Tasmania. Here of course we are crossing over from the lushness of spring flowers and fresh foliage to the mid summer joy of dahlias, salvias, agastaches and ornamental grasses. Hellebores, primulas and snowdrops are six months away

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Susan
      Thank you for the info; I am sure Matt will find it very helpful

    2. mattb325 says:

      Thanks Susan, I’m most grateful for the info, they really have some gorgeous varieties

  5. Cathy says:

    I am pleased your iris flowered when it did – I planted some I unguicularis after seeing them flowering in December last year at Plas Newydd. Even though one had the the remains of a flower when they came in early spring last year there is no sign of any flower buds this year yet 😦 How very lovely to see your hellebore in flower, even if you bought it in bud – I keep checking and double checking all mine! Thanks for the concept of the Boxing day count too, Helen

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I am sure your iris will flower soon. I only had one flower on mine when I first bought it, I am hoping for more flowers this year

    2. Cathy says:

      Oh that’s positive news, Helen – hope so too.

  6. Pauline says:

    A lovely selection of flowers. I have yet to have a wander round my garden, having only just got back from Bristol. I can see from the window that the camellia I mentioned in a post recently, is now covered in flowers, I have never seen it so early before. My Iris Walter Butt flowered at the beginning of December too, but no flowers now, although another Iris unguicularis by the dining room window is flowering. Anything that flowers in December is worth its weight in gold!

  7. Anna says:

    Oh I remember thinking that I must look out for ‘Walter Butt’ last year Helen and somehow or the other managed to forget 😦 Glad that you have reminded me about it. Here I whizzed round on Christmas Day – four varieties of snowdrops, two roses, a viburnum, autumn flowering cherry and a herb robert. I can confirm that slugs are still active or were before the very recent drop in temperature.

  8. Anna says:

    I meant to look out for ‘Walter Butt’ earlier this year Helen but it slipped my mind. Thanks for a most timely reminder. Here I whizzed round on Christmas Day were the count was four varieties of snowdrops, two roses, autumn flowering cherry, a viburnum and a herb robert. I can confirm that slugs were active earlier this week before the recent drop in temperature.

  9. rickii says:

    I’m impressed. The count here would be exactly 2.

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