Thursday 24 December 2015

Ding dong ...

Here's wishing you a very happy Christmas ! With some of this ...

And this ...

And this ...

And maybe even some of this ...

It doesn't really feel like Christmas, however, due to the weather being as warm as some of the days we experienced during the summer ! It is very odd and totally unseasonal! Things are flowering way out of their allocated season ...

Bergenia - today
Usually at this time of year I am happy if the weather is warmer than the fridge, and wouldn't dream of leaving the house without gloves and scarf but so far, this season, they have remained in the drawer.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'- today
There have been many reports in the media, of things blooming when they certainly should not be blooming, and the daffodils, for example, seem to have taken a unilateral decision that it is officially now spring! Bergenia is flowering now, whereas it should start flowering in early spring, as should Brunnera.

Tetrapanax - today
Tetrapanax is usually battling with the frost at this time of year, not blithely pushing out new leaves, like there's no tomorrow ! Clematis Armandii usually blooms in late winter/ early spring in its present position, but there are several flowers now, and it has been producing them sporadically throughout the summer. Plain weird!

Clematis  'Armandii'- today
We have had a couple of frosts here, in Lincolnshire, so far - not very much, but enough to kill off the nasturtiums (Hurrah ! Don't know why I grew the horrible things in the first place!) and a few leggy geraniums I had left outside to their fate.

There are still lots of roses in bloom in the garden, and not just the odd raggedy bloom, but full , fresh blooms just like in June..

'Tess of the D'Urbervilles ' today
Tess is unsullied and dewily beautiful, and there are lots of buds to follow.

All the tree ferns still have their foliage untouched by frosts, and to be honest, they are usually wrapped up tight by this time, with fronds cut off, and straw protecting their crowns.

Tree Fern today

Agapanthus is a late summer flowerer, and ,yes, the one pictured below DID flower then. It has been in the greenhouse since mid autumn, and has clearly decided it is late summer, and time to bloom again! A weird but wonderful sight on a December day.

Agapanthus today
This year I grew Melianthus Major, and am testing the water to see how hardy they are. I have dug up all but two from beds in the garden, and put them in the greenhouse to overwinter, but the two remaining outside are untouched by the frost and still have foliage intact. They were ridiculously easy to germinate and grow on, and have put on a lot of growth in a season. I am looking forward to seeing how they all perform next year.

Melianthus Major back in June
Once the deliciousness of Christmas is behind us for another year, I have the 'job' of making my seed list . This is one of my favourite bits of the whole gardening year as it is so full of promise. In the depths of a dreary winter, there is the certainty of the return of flowers, fruit, veg and light. What a joy to invest in it.

Next season I will, of course, be growing old favourites, but also trying out lots of new annuals for our new sub tropical 'extension' garden. I have done some research already, getting suggestions from books written by those late, greats, Christopher Lloyd and Will Giles but need to do much, much more.

I have started to compile a list and so far it consists of stuff I have grown for years ...

Dahlias in August
Dahlias (loads and loads!)

Ricinus in August

Tithonia 'Torchlight' in August


I will have to begin the enjoyable job of choosing varieties and colours etc, so any suggestions are most welcome.

I doubt very much whether there will be time for any more blogging before Christmas, in between the mince pies and the turkey and the sherry, so I wish you a very Happy Christmas, and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Thursday 3 December 2015

The last hurrah ...

When all else is dismal, dank and increasingly slimy, the garden produces its last hurrah, with a conjuror's flourish. Every year I forget that this is going to happen, and so deny myself the pleasure of anticipation, like I do with the first rose bloom of the season.

For most of the season the pampas grass  provides a green exclamation mark in the centre of the top part of the garden, doing its job of dividing two areas into separate entities . Then in autumn the luxuriant plumes start to appear, emerging out of their casings gradually over the course of several days.

Now, there is pampas grass and pampas grass ! I remain totally unmoved by the stiffly upright military plumes which are seen more commonly. But the variety which, by chance, I have in the garden is totally different. The plumes are pendulous, weeping things of beauty, blowing in the wind and rippling in the sunlight.

Not only that ... they are PINK! Almost sacrilegious, I know ! Forget boring old cream, 'cos pink is the new kid on the block.

If you want to be gender specific, it is very feminine, compared to the shorn rigidity of the more common upright variety.

Some of my soldiers have fallen in the line of duty already, buffeted by the high winds and heavy rain, so they are a fleeting pleasure.

I must have bought this Pampas Grass, and made that decision maybe twenty five years ago, but I have no idea where I got it from, or the name of the variety. But, there it is, brightening every dreary December day, bringing freshness, colour and movement to a fading garden.

The very last hurrah before the snowdrops herald a brand new growing season, and do you know something ... that isn't far away at all.