What a surprise! 5th December and the first snowdrop is flowering in my garden. Even more surprising is that it isn’t Galanthus Ding Dong which I know I have and thought was my earliest snowdrop. I can’t find a label with it and I have been very careful in labelling snowdrops with substantial black labels which will stand out but there is nothing here at all. I am completely mystified as to what it is. I will have to wait until the flower opens properly and then maybe someone can id it for me. I will also do some rummaging through my label box to see if there are any clues there.
I am not completely inept when it comes to labels and plant names. I know that this is Primula palinuri grown from AGS seed probably 3 years ago. It flowered for the first time last year in time for the Boxing Day Flower Count but then it was living in the greenhouse cosseted and pampered. It has spent the summer out on the patio amongst the various pots and for some reason was overlooked when I moved all the tenders back under cover but it seems to be doing very well despite the buffeting it has received in recent days.
This out of focus photo represents expectations. It shows one of three emerging flower heads on my Edgeworthia. I am very hopeful that this year, year 2, there will be good flowers. It is planted within sight of my living room window so hopefully it will be something to cheer me through the winter.
And adding to my expectations of a floriferous spring is this unknown Camellia. It is positively groaning with flower buds given its size and I have noticed that the rhododendrons and, very exciting, the witch hazel are full of flower buds which I think is as a result of the mild and damp summer we have had.
Whatever the reason it gives you something to look forward to in the New Year, which is always good.
It’s interesting how your approach to the garden changes when you have time on your side. I don’t mean a few hours but when you have a couple of weeks with few plans and so you can ponder and potter without clock watching and worrying about everything you want to achieve in an unrealistic time. Yvonne, a regular commentator on this blog, is often nagging me about the need to sit on the bench and rest. What she doesn’t realise is that I do a lot of sitting on the bench but this leads to pondering and considering and then ideas form which then turn into tasks or projects.
This week I have taken the approach of doing chores first thing, crossing things off a long list, and then going out into the garden and seeing how the mood takes me. One of the first areas I have tackled is the patio border. The border is in two parts either side of the greenhouse. This is the first area I planted when we moved in some 11 years ago and it has benefited over the years from continual adding of compost. The foundation of the beds is some form of builders sand or grit, I’m not sure what, but either way it drains pretty well. However, due to the shade of the wall the borders are shady and retain moisture for longer than the rest of the garden giving me that elusive moist but well drained soil that is often mentioned in gardening books.
As this border is the view from my living room I have tried to make it have year round interest. In early spring there are snowdrops and some narcissus but I have been increasing the amount of foliage interest rather than relying on flowers. There is a loose colour theme of yellow and white which is fulfilled by a yellow Chinatown rose that has just gone over, the Kirengshoma palmata, the white flowers of a siberian iris and the various variegated foliage.
The changes I made this week are minor but have made a huge difference to the impact of the border. When I was in Ireland the group commented on how the Irish gardeners seemed to always be moving their plants. I kept quiet at this point as I am a terrible mover of plants and to demonstrate this I have to confess to moving the Blechnum chilense above all of a foot to the left. As you can see the Edgeworthia is making a bid to be a tree rather than a shrub and it needed under-planting. The idea is that the Blechnum will provide interest beneath the canopy of the Edgeworthia. I don’t know why the Edgeworthia is growing like this. I bought it mail-order and it arrived with a bare stem and 3 buds at the top and has carried on from there. I don’t think I would have chosen one growing like this if I had been looking in a nursery but it will be interesting to see how it fares.
I love the Blechnum chilense. I am trying to learn more about my ferns and blechnums are one group that seem fairly easy to pick out as their fronds are quite distinctive. Once it is established I understand its fronds can grow up to 5ft which will be quite something and no doubt will lead me to having to move some of the smaller surrounding plants. It is also meant to be evergreen so I should have something lovely to look at all winter.
The Kirengshoma palmata is becoming very large now and I think that I might have to pluck up the courage and divide it next year before it completely outgrows its space. It is a wonderful plant which really should be grown more. They suffer a little from slug damage when young but once they are established the slugs don’t seem to bother so much with them. As I have said before the flower buds always remind me of butter curls. The plant dies back in the winter and I am left with the rose and an acanthus which are somewhere underneath it and the winter jasmine on the back wall. As I sit here pondering, looking out of the window, I think some yellow and white crocus might do well in here for early spring interest – now where is that bulb catalogue!