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

29th December 2013

Griselinia ruscifolia
One of those weeks that makes the past feel like another planet. Christmas, I suppose. Monday has slipped beyond the reach of memory. The garden, however, retains the marks of the week. In this case it is a sequence of long muddy streaks through the grass where I have slipped. I haven't been over yet, but it is only a matter of time.
I like to think that living on a hill gives me protection from the worst of the wet but this week there has been so much rain that it hasn't even had time to flow down the hill and upset the village. I find myself walking uphill gingerly in case I sink into the surface and walking downhill gingerly in case it turns into one of those terrifying winter sports involving steep hills and slippery ice. I haven't gone over yet, but the precise arrangement of the legs has been unpredictable and the distance between the feet has been uncomfortably generous on occasion.
Strange things happen in the greenhouse, including the formation of a small pond. This Griselina has been one of them. G.littoralis is cheerfully growing into large trees in a number of places around the garden, and I think I am happy about that. This one is going to stay much smaller, the size of a small shrub or standard Poodle. The flowers are still insignificant, but they are insignificantly red rather than insignificantly green. It is in the greenhouse until I am sure it is hardy and have thought of somewhere suitable to plant it.
It comes from Chile, where it can also be cold and wet enough for the formation of small ponds so it seems to have settled in well.

29th December 2013

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun'
The season has arrived when I start to clean up the Sarracenia for the year. I have been as far as the back door, looked at the sky, muttered something about pigs flying and settled back into the warm and dry. The sunny spells that have been promised turned into a strange game of meterological 'Chicken'. It looks good for a moment, I rush out into the garden in the sun, the heavens open and I rush back again. As I took this picture I had one eye on the western sky where the darkness was gathering. It chased me down the hill, which was reckless but preferable to being caught in it again. There is a limit to the number of changes of clothes I can make in a day.
This is 'Winter Sun', much like the other Mahonia x media cultivars if I'm honest. It is the latest of them to flower here. It has been open for a couple of weeks but has only just started to make a show. 'Charity' is wobbling about like the relative that got put on the dodgy chair for Christmas dinner. Amusing, but no longer seen to its best advantage. 'Buckland' has been overcome with shyness, the trailing racemes of flower sinking between the rosette leaves. 'Lionel Fortescue' has lost half of his flowers but still sticks up boldly like an extravagant comb-over. Rather foolish, and I get the feeling it is impolite to stare (but it is so hard not to).
I am also convinced that the colour of 'Winter Sun' is a tone cooler than the others, but they are all mahonia-yellow so if the distinction is real, it is slight.

29th December 2013

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Ruby Glow'
The rain is a marvellous thing, it is keeping temperatures up, even if it doesn't seem like it. In time we will run into a stream of cold arctic air, the sky will clear and heavy breathing will surround my head in fog. It will be a sad moment, but a part of me will think thank goodness. The threat is over, now we just have the reality to deal with.
The Hamamelis have been trapped in the gap before winter for weeks now. Occasional buds have burst and looked foolish, unable to stand the suspense any more. Finally 'Ruby Glow' has taken the lead, with the relief of an early morning visit to the bathroom. The stems are decorated with strange fluff that doesn't look as though it will resist the lightest of showers, but it does. I would like to say that it makes a bold display and scents the air with precious oils but that would be stretching the truth. It has red flowers all over and doesn't mind being rained on.
The yellow flowered forms are still bursting with anticipation and crossing their legs. 'Jelena' hasn't even dropped her leaves yet.

29th December 2013

Galanthus 'Faringdon Double'
The shape of the garden changes in spring. Large spaces that I am used to tramping over become no-go areas as the bulbs push through the soil. I was sliding around with a camera taking photographs of rather ordinary evergreen leaves (just in case the precious collection of twigs they were growing on didn't survive the winter). Suddenly I looked down and saw the little noses around my feet. I shouldn't really have been there at all. When the sense of alarm died down it was quite thrilling to watch the new growth redefine the garden.
The best part of all flowers is the anticipation before they open and at the moment there are bucketloads of anticipation. The earliest snowdrops have arrived and the rest are blunt grey points poking an inch or two through the ground.
'Faringdon Double' is the earliest of the doubles, found by Ruby and David Baker in Oxfordshire. It has large, full flowers that almost caught the light for a moment. I was kneeling beside it looking up the hill when I saw the dark clouds gathering. My cue to dash down to the warmth of the house.
My mother was a proficient knitter of strangely shaped garments that small children would look bizarre wearing. I don't think she really enjoyed the process. Perhaps the outcome appealed to her sense of humour. She was always happy to put her knitting down and thrust the grey needles through a ball of wool to protrude an inch or two, like the promise of snowdrops. The garden has started to clothe itself.

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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