So this is the seventh year I have counted the number of plants in flower on Boxing Day. It’s an interesting exercise and makes you really look at the garden to spot any flowers. This year the snowdrops seem to be ahead of themselves. Galanthus Mrs McNamara (above) is already in flower, with Galanthus Ding Dong and Galanthusplicatus ‘Colossus’ coming up quickly behind.
There are two Viburnums in flower; the Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ and the Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Other shrubs in flower which I overlooked photographing are:
and this Abutilon, whose name I have forgotten (as usual).
The first hellebore is in flower, last year they were only just in bud.
Conversely there is only one primrose in flower, where as last year there were numerous primroses and primulas in flower.
Another small delight is this little cyclamen, a new addition under a shrub. I choose the white flowers over pink ones as I wanted something to lighten the spot.
Finally, is the delightful pot of violets which lives on the patio table. They have been flowering for weeks, only closing their petals when it snowed.
In total there is one more plant in flower this year, 13, to last year which remains low compared to 2015 when there were 35 plants in flower. I suspect some of this might be because of my leanings more towards foliage plants other flowers.
Curiously the mild winter we are having hasn’t resulted in lots of flowers in the garden this Boxing Day. Last year I had a bumper count at 35 and I put this down to last year’s mild winter but presumably it is more subtle than that. I do believe that some plants need a cold snap to help them start flower but that’s just wild guess work on my part.
My Mahonia has finally forgiven me for being lopped probably 3 years ago. I wanted to avoid a shrub with just one stem so I chopped it down to the ground and then spent a year, almost, anxiously watching to see if anything would appear. Finally new shoots reluctantly put in an appearance and the shrub now has 3 stems and is producing good size flowers.
Grevillea victoriae is my favourite shrub at the moment. It is one of two Grevilleas I have – the second being Grevillea Canberra Gem – and I adore them both. To be fair the Grevillea victoriae flowers haven’t really opened yet but any excuse to include a photo of it.
A bit of colour on the retaining wall courtesy of Jasminum nudi-florum. Last year I removed the clematis that also grew in this space and the Jasminum seems to have improved. I suspect the increased flowering is because I can prune it better without the clematis – I must investigate when I should be pruning the plant as I have a habit of pruning when I think of it.
In recent years I have developed a bit of a weakness for Euphorbias and Euphorbia rigida is the first to start flowering although I don’t think the other will be far behind.
Even the number of primulas in flower this year are less than last year but I can always rely on this lilac, or is it pink, primula to be flowering at Christmas.
The first snowdrop is about to pop open its flowers. I can’t for the life of me remember which variety this is and the label seems to have gone missing. I will have to do some research on the blog to see if it has featured at this time of the year in the past.
In the greenhouse this little Cyclamen is flowering, I may have to keep a magnifying glass in the greenhouse just so I can see the flowers.
Although the number of plants flowering this Boxing Day is significantly down on last year, at a mere 12 compared to 35 last year and 17 the year before there are buds a plenty. The hellebore above will be flowering soon and other are hot on its heels; last year some were already in flower which was rather early.
You can access previous Boxing Day flower count posts here
My Boxing Day Flower Count is becoming a real tradition now as this is the fifth year I have done it. It is simply a case of going round the garden and counting how many plants are in flower. Of course when you start thinking about it in detail, as no doubt some people will, you start to wonder if you should count every single Primula vulgaris or each of the red flowered Cowslips or whether you just count one as a representative of the group. I didn’t remember having these thoughts before and when I looked back on last year’s post I suspect this is because last year, and the years before, the numbers were small – 17 in 2014 compared to 35 today!
One of the most notable differences is the number of hellebores that are already in flower probably due to the ridiculously mild winter we have had so far. Last year there was one double in flower which I had bought in flower back in October. In contrast this year all the flowering hellebores are well established and I anticipate there will be more flowering within the next two weeks given the number of buds appearing. Also flowering at the moment is the Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’ and Helleborus foetidus.
Then there are a ridiculous number of primulas in flower. Last year there was a small number with one or two flowers just about showing but this year the flowers are more advanced and in some cases going over. Here are some of my favourites.
The usual shrubs are flowering: Abelia, Jasminum nudiflorum, Rosemary and this year they are joined by Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’
Other new additions this year are some early Galanthus, although Galanthus Ding Dong has been a resident for a couple of years now.
The actual flower count list is as follows:
Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ Jasminum nudiflorum Rosemary Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Mcnamara’ Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ Galanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’ Galanthus elwesii Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’ Helleborus foetidus
Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’
3 x other unknown Hellebores
Bergenia Euporbia rigida
Salvia involucrata boutin
Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ Cyclamen hedrifolium Cyclamen persicum (I think, bought in 2014 as a bedding plant) Papaver cambricum
Pulmonaria Digitalis ambigua
11 x assorted primulas
In contrast with previous years the Iris unguicularis has been flowering for a couple of months and seems to have finished now. You can compare this year with previous year’s via the following links
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the third year I have done the Boxing Day Flower Count and I have to admit that I really thought it would be a non-starter this year as there seemed to be very little flowering, if anything, in the garden this year; this does seem strange considering how mild it has been in recent weeks. The majority of the flowers are on early spring bulbs amongst my growing collection of small pots. The Cylamen cyprium ‘E9 form’ above has been flowering for weeks in the greenhouse. I keep it in the greenhouse, which is frost free, as it hails from the mountainous area of cyprus and I’m not sure it would really appreciate our damp winters.
I do like cyclamen and these are some of a group I planted in the top of the planter the jasmine is growing in against the back house wall. They too have been flowering for weeks, if not months and really brighten up the patio along with the violas and cyclamen in the hanging baskets. I am pretty sure they are form of cyclamen coum but I bought them from a large garden centre and they weren’t labelled beyond ‘cyclamen’ which is frustrating.
The Narcisuss cantabricus foliosus, which I bought at the AGS Conference in November has also been flowering for weeks. It has such a delicate tissue like flower.
Another new addition to the garden is Thalictrum urbainii from Evolution Plants. It is a dwarf spring flowering form of Thalictrum so I’m not sure why it is flowering now but maybe its the protection from the cold frame where it is residing until it beefs itself up. Such a pretty and delicate flower.
As with the last two years the Grevillea Canberra Gem is sporting a few flowers although these are very very early and the general consensus is that it shouldn’t flower until May-June. I love this shrub and it was this plant and its conifer like foliage which started me change of attitude towards conifers although it isn’t a conifer at all.
The Abelia is flowering as well and again like the other flowers on this post it has been flowering for weeks.
Sadly unlike the last two years I cannot include the Mahonia since I pruned it severely after it flowered this year and it is only just beginning to shoot again. However, there are a couple of primroses and bergenias as in previous years as well as the winter jasmine and a lone chrysanthemum. The total of the year is 12 which is the same as last year although this year’ selection is more seasonal and not so dependent on stray annuals having gone into a torpor.
This year hasn’t resulted in as many. In fact looking out of the window you would think it was only Mahonia xMedia ‘Charity’ that was in flower. It is a real showstopper although I have discovered that the local squirrels are using it as a launch pad on their way up and down the adjacent trees. I have decided to bite the bullet and chop the plant right down after it has finished flowering in order to encourage new branches to appear. Since pondering on this earlier this month I have read numerous articles in which this treatment is advocated by reputable gardeners so I will just have to be brave.
Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has just started to flower. The shrub is smothered in buds and I managed to find two or three that had just opened. This was a most rewarding sight having had a disagreement with a speaker at a recent horticultural talk who told me that Grevillea didn’t flower until June. He wouldn’t take my word for it that mine flowered earlier. Annoyingly, as is often the case in these situations, I started to doubt myself when confronted by an ‘expert’ so didn’t press the point. Looking back through the blog the Grevillea was flowering last Boxing Day so this isn’t an abberation and the plant label I found says it flowers Spring. I just wished I had had the courage of my conviction at the talk.
This little primula has been flowering for weeks. I have no idea where it came from but every year it flowers very early. Luckily the birds ignore it unlike the cowslips just near it which seem to attract the Greenfinches when they flower; for some reason the birds just sit and peck the flowers off and discard them around the plants. I can only assume they are after the nectar.
The pulmonaria has just started to flower. I’m not sure which one this is and to be honest I don’t even remember buying it. I will have to have a look through my label box and see if I can find its original label. It nestles in the shade of a lower growing Acer so I only just spotted its pretty pink flowers this morning.
Finally I have a window box full of violas which I much prefer over their gaudy, blousey Pansy cousins. They are such a pretty plant and I have decided that I need to plant out many more next year to add winter colour in pots and the border by the house.
I have just started to read Margery Fish’s ‘An All Year Garden’ and already I feel I need to address my winter garden by adding more violas and also cyclamen. I have Cyclamen hederifolium which has been wonderful the last couple of months but this morning showed only one sad little flower left blooming and that was well past its best. I also have Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’ still hanging on to its flowers but again they are looking a little battered.
So the total count this year is 7 plants in flower, if you count all the violas as one, which is down on last year’s 12. I think this is because we had a real cold snap earlier in the month which I don’t remember from last year. I also noticed that my snowdrops are only just showing their heads above the ground and last year I had some in flower on the 15th January. Snowdrops is another plant I want to add to for next Spring and I want to try to get some earlier flowering varieties than my standard Glanathus elwesii.
I also noticed that the Hamamelis, the Sarcococca and the various hellebores were all in tight bud so hopefully it won’t be long before there is more colour in the garden and Spring is definitely on its way.
I remember reading on some blog somewhere that some gardeners do a Christmas Day flower count to see how many plants are flowering in their garden. I have decided to start doing the same but as I spent yesterday cooking and eating I have decided to do a Boxing Day flower count.
My Grevillea Canberra (above) is just opening its flowers which will please the bees a lot as they love the plant and it is covered in insects during the late winter/spring. I love this plant. Firstly it reminds me of my sister as I bought it from a wonderful small nursery near her and she, being a non-gardener, was impressed I knew what the plant was. It wasn’t that impressive as I had just been reading about it in Christopher Lloyd’s Colour for Adventurous Gardeners. Secondly I love it as it is thriving in my front garden and is a real focal point especially in the winter.
The Climbing Fuchsia is still flowering and has new buds opening. I think the description ‘climbing’ is a little optimistic but I am hoping it will provide some low-level interest against the fence at the end of the patio and I will grow a clematis, yet to be decided upon, along the top of the fence.
I was surprised to find Antirrhinum still flowering its socks off. I had thought I had pulled them all up when I did an autumn tidy but, like my housework, my garden tidying obviously leaves a little to be desired. However, it is nice to see such a fresh flower at this time of year.
The Ceanothus which looked like it had given up the ghost this time last year after a second harsh winter is thriving. This is an autumn flowering one though I have no idea of its name.
I love this Abelia which I think is a much underrated shrub. I have two which I bought a couple of years ago for a few pounds each and they are now both substantial shrubs. The one above has been moved from the front garden where it was getting subsumed into the laurel hedge – I had underestimated the growing space needed – and is now in the new cottage garden border, she says somewhat grandly!
I love photographing the Mahonia, the flower spikes are so beautiful. I also am still enjoying photographing the Cyclamen hederifolium which has been flowering for a couple of months although it is starting to look faded now. I did notice this morning that there were leaves appearing which can only mean that the flowers will definitely be over soon.
The winter jasmine is full of flowers with more buds about to open. In contrast the Bidens and Salvia confertiflora which should have finished flowering back in October are hanging on but I think they will give up soon. There are also a few winter violas flowering and this Geranium whose name I have long forgotten.
So that’s 12 plants in flower on Boxing Day 2011 and in a couple of days they will be joined by the Choisya and Sarcococca. A bit different to last year when the garden was covered in a thick icy blanket of half melted snow.
I wonder what will be flowering on Boxing Day 2012