The mild Autumn is certainly causing some surprising combinations in the garden this December. There are a number of flowers which seem to have been in flower for months and it is almost as though they have been frozen in time like Sleeping Beauty. Here we have Gladiolus callianthus which are putting on an excellent display at the top of the garden. They are a welcome surprise this year as I tipped a number of pots of bulbs out on to the top border as there was no sign of life and they had hardly flowered last year. Then lo and behold lying on the top of the soil they started to grow and they have been wonderful for months. They are meant to be moderately hardy but I think I will risk them outside over the winter and see how they get on. I suspect as they come from the mountainous regions of Africa that they might be a bit hardier than we think especially if they have good drainage and don’t get too sodden.
Salvia involucrata boutin has also been flowering for months and like the Gladiolus seems frozen in time. The plant which is some 4 years old is huge now so I won’t be lifting it this year but am relying on cuttings and a thick mulch around roots. I’m glad I decided not to lift it as it means I have enjoyed the flowers for a lot longer than normal.
Alongside the hangers-on are the usual seasonal delights. The number of shrubs, especially those that flower outside of Summer are increasing in my garden. They often have small delicate flowers which come into their own when there isn’t much showy competition. Here we have an Abelia, variety unknown, which is very popular with the pollinators when we have a sunny day. I enjoy the combination of the pale flowers with the burgundy stems and calyx.
The Jasminum nudiflorum seemed to come into flower early last month and the flowers are just started to go over, no hanging around for them like the Gladiolus and Salvia. I think this rain soaked bloom looks almost transparent in some lights.
Euphorbia rigida, albeit a small and young plant, is already illuminating the front garden. I really like the combination of the glaucous leaves and the acid green flowers. Just behind this plant is Salvia armistad which I haven’t lifted and is still just about in flower and the deep blue/purple flowers contrast wonderfully from afar with the Euphorbia.
Finally an unknown Primula. There are a lot of primulas in my garden, with the numbers increasing year on year as I am a sucker for the Barnhaven Primrose website. This one is a straight forward lilac Primula vulgaris and probably due for dividing in the Spring. It is one of the first real spring flowers to open and makes me feel optimistic that Spring isn’t really that far away. I have a couple of different snowdrops that are producing flowers but not open enough yet to include and the Iris unguicularis which I featured a few weeks ago is still producing flower after flower which is making me very happy after waiting for a few years for it to establish.
So those are my floral December highlights. For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit May Dreams.
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.
Taking the photographs for this post were quite challenging. I had forgotten that GBBD was coming up at the weekend so it meant that I had to take photographs either before or after work today. This only actually gives about a 10 minute window of opportunity in the morning when the light is almost good enough before I go to work as when I get home from work it is dark. And of course 10 minutes in the morning is very valuable when you are trying to get out to work so these photographs were literally taken on the run, wearing inappropriate shoes and a suit!
The garden looks quite colourful but that is generally the yellows and reds of the falling leaves. However a quick scoot around identified that some of the daisies are still flowering well. The Bidens and Rudbeckia (in photos above) are flowering well. Some of the Asters and annual Rudbeckia are still in flower but to be honest are looking a little sorry for themselves.
The Abelia is starting to flower. I do think this is such an under-rated shrub. It sits quietly all Summer providing structure and a backdrop to the perennials and now as the colour is fading it starts to flower and has a wonderful scent. I would have taken the photo from the other side but it meant wading through the border in heels!
I have one Cosmos plant that has flowered well this year, the rest have been something and nothing and this is the second year. I suspect I am letting them get too leggy before they are planted out and then they never really recover. I will try again next year and hopefully now the allotment has gone I won’t get behind with planting out seedlings.
And finally the Lobelia tupa has been flowering for weeks and weeks. In my opinion another overlooked perennial. It has wonderful glaucous foliage and then these wonderful flower-heads. It is easy from seed but takes a while to re-appear in the Spring. Mine grows very happily on clay based soil which gets very wet in the winter. I would recommend it very highly.