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Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.

22nd December 2013

A wet week in the garden has kept the temperatures up though it has effectively stopped work. It has given me time to sit back and watch the Winter Solstice pass. It is a major event in the garden, and before very long I will start bleating hopefully about the burgeoning spring. You will be pleased to hear that even for me, one day after the Solstice is too soon to comment on how fresh and promising the new season looks. Perhaps next week.
On tuesday the sun came out for an hour or so and I didn't go out to take pictures. Then the clouds rolled over and the garden has been dark and gloomy. I had a collection of pictures of grey flowers in a grey landscape to show, but suddenly this morning the clouds have lifted and the low sun is magnificent. This is midwinter at its most beautiful, a little high cloud in the sky to emphasise its blueness and a naked sun like a brazen Christmas Fairy on top of a tree.
If I had been feeling whimsical I would have labelled this picture x Cuprocyparis leylandii, recording a dozen or so trees that I felled in October and still haven't cleared away. The intention was to clear some space on the south side of the house and let the light in and I am happy about it. I wish I had done it a decade ago when I first started to feel hemmed in by the trees - they were much smaller and more manageable then.
The sun doesn't rise very high in the sky at this time of the year - this picture was taken a few minutes before noon - and it has been a very long time since I was able to enjoy it like this.

22nd December 2013

Meconopsis cambrica
Big yellow shining things are cheering at this season , though this is definitely part of the year that has passed. Meconopsis cambrica is not one of the rare and precious members of the genus, but a rather odd, weedy and 'obliging' species that calls to mind Victorian prostitutes in a Dicken's novel. Heart of gold and no knickers. If it had been discovered in the Himalayas it would have been a priceless sensation, a pure yellow Meconopsis. It would have been as outstanding as Meconopsis punicea, whose scarlet flowers leave people speechless with wonder and prevent all higher brain function (because let's be honest, a red poppy is wonderful but hardly unexpected).
The Welsh Poppy carries with it a bundle of horticultural baggage that means it is overlooked and under appreciated, but there is a great joy in finding a last flower in the depths of winter shining like the sun.
In recent years molecular studies have demonstrated that Meconopsis cambrica sits firmly in the middle of the genus Papaver and has very little link to the great blue poppies of the Himalayas, which will cause some taxonomic amusement.

22nd December 2013

Camellia 'Show Girl'
A few weeks ago the last leaves fell from the deciduous trees. For the first time in many years they fell under their own steam rather than being stripped by the first autumn gales. They have been rolling around the garden like crunchy cushions. Brown draught excluders along the base of all the walls and hedges. They are the old year giving way to the new. The trees they fell from are filled with tight imbricate buds. They say the universe is expanding, and that is how the spring will arrive. It will burst in a tiny explosion from the buds. If I had a suitable microphone it would be a wonderful thing to record. The creation of a new year from a Little Bang. It has been noticeable this week that the fallen leaves are fading away. When I looked for the reason I found that the leaf tissue between the veins was disintegrating. The old season is crumbling away.
In its place come the first of the Little Bangs. Camellia 'Show Girl' appears reliably around the Solstice. For me this is the first of the spring Camellia though I would admit that the division is quite arbitrary. However, this is a Camellia that I planted as part of the main run of Camellia flowers that will fill the spring with synthetic pink fluff. It is not a Camellia that I planted in the hope of getting some fragile crumb of floral cheer in the cemetary of summer. Arbitrary or not, this is where they begin.

22nd December 2013

Galanthus 'Three Ships'
Something about a spell of bright sunlight in the morning releases the mind from restrictions. I went up to see 'Three Ships' in the sunshine and had a momentary urge to sit down and sing loud and tuneless Carols beside it. I resisted the urge because I have neighbours within tuneless earshot and I am the only one who would think it was funny.
I bought it in March 2012 from the Alpine Garden Society Early Spring Show in Harlow. I had been looking for one for a couple of years, it has a reputation for flowering just in time for Christmas. Just the thing I needed. I can also remember a slight misgiving as I handed over the money. It doesn't take many snowdrops to empty a wallet but it has delivered on the promise and flowered in time for Christmas. It has captured the Solstice sun in it's flowers and is worth far more than the crisp crackling fresh piece of purple paper I exchanged for it.
As I write this the clouds are closing over again and the light glee of winter sunshine is evaporating. From the look of the forecast this is going to be as close as we get to a White Christmas.
I can live with that.

Acorus Alocasia Anemone Arisaema Arum Asarum Aspidistra Begonia Bromeliads Camellia
Carnivorous Cautleya Chirita Chlorophytum Clivia Colocasia Crocosmia Dionaea Drosera Epimedium
Eucomis Fuchsia Galanthus Hedychium Helleborus Hemerocallis Hepatica Hosta Impatiens Iris
Liriope Ophiopogon Pinguicula Polygonatum Ranunculus ficaria Rhodohypoxis Rohdea Roscoea Sansevieria Sarracenia
Scilla Sempervivum Tricyrtis Tulbaghia Utricularia Viola odorata Watsonia

To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
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