There are many reasons to be cheerful right now! Cautiously cheerful, perhaps, but still cheerful. There are signs and portents afoot which indicate that spring is on the horizon. The days are beginning to lengthen, the birds have started singing again, and the bulbs are beginning to appear.
In the conservatory, nobody has told the plants that it is actually winter. We keep the temperature reasonably low, so I was expecting the overwintering tender plants to remain dormant. I thought I would keep them ticking over, but that there would be little active growth. What a joy! They have not only kept growing, but they have kept flowering too, giving many reasons to be continually cheerful!
Begonia 'Garden Angels' are putting out lots of new leaves, and the leaves have kept all their wonderful metallic colouring. They will, apparently, stand a couple of degrees of frost, but, as they are quite expensive, I didn't want to chance leaving them in the greenhouse this year. Also, they are every bit as decorative as Begonia Rex, the house plants, and they have given lots of pleasure over the winter.
This plant, which is flowering its little socks off, is Impatiens Niamniamensis, the 'Parrot plant'. It is easy to see how it got its name, as the flowers certainly resemble brightly coloured parrots, swinging on the stems. The plant itself can get quite leggy, so I try to ensure that it gets as much light as possible, and will be pinching out the growing tips shortly, to encourage a bushier plant.
The plants which are the undisputed Queens of the Winter, are the Abutilons. They have flowered non stop all summer, autumn and now winter. The flowers are quite lovely, and the red pictured below is very rich and dark. They are hard to beat for flower power!
I grew lots from seed in early summer and have put several in the greenhouse to overwinter, and these are thriving but not flowering. The temperature in the greenhouse has fallen to 3 degrees and they have been fine.
I have left sacrificial Abutilons in the garden, to see what temperatures they can actually cope with, and so far we have had down to minus 3, and they are still fine, and have even kept their leaves.
However, last night the temperature dropped to minus 4.8 degrees , so I have yet to see whether they have survived , or succumbed to the frost.
Yet another reason to be cheerful is that the red, Abyssinian bananas are all continuing to thrive and to actively grow, and produce new rollers. They look amazing when viewed against the rays of a winter sun.
And the best reason of all to be cheerful is that the seeds have been chosen and bought, and the propagator has been switched on. There are already results, with seedlings popping up every day.