1st March 2015
During the week the garden let go of winter. It wasn't a matter of passing gales or melting ice. I went out on Moday and it was as though the garden
had shrugged its shoulders and dropped winter on the floor like a dirty sports kit in a teenagers bedroom. Not rejected, just finished with. I used
to do that. Sorry! The rain was gentle, the wind was soft and the sunshine was warm. One on those weeks when you walk through the garden because of
the weather, not despite it.
When the garden is in a benevolent mood every surprise is a pleasant one. A slightly damaged flower on Crocus tommasinianus left me sitting
on the grass until my trousers were unpleasantly wet and then I hurried back to the house to change them and get a camera.
When I moved into this garden I had a vision of Crocus tommasiniaus flowering like purple mist drifting across the clipped grass. I planted
corms diligently for a few years but it was clear that the mice could eat them faster than I could plant. It was never successful. Small clumps
survived for a few years, sufficient to taunt me but they never spread. In the mid 1980's I admitted defeat and haven't planted a single crocus outside
since. Time has passed and this lone survivor was an unexpected joy.
As for the wet trousers, I found them in the middle of my bedroom floor when I went to bed.
1st March 2015
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise'
Hamamelis are slow and steady shrubs. The bright flowers burst along the bare twigs in the middle of winter as though they were rushing to
announce spring but their haste is an illusion. The buds are formed in summer and slowly swell for several months until they are quite ready. They seem to pay
no attention to the weather or the temperature. When they are ready, they open.
Slowly and steadily they grow and the tiny twigs I planted are starting to have a distict presence of their own. 'Arnold Promise' comes late in the season
and I have been told that it grows tall and flowers sparsely but so far it has been very satisfactory. The yellow flowers seem to open downwards from
the clustered buds which gives the shrub a distinctive appearance.
It grows in a border that takes the full force of the wind so I don't mind that it isn't scented. On a breezy winters day the heavy perfume of a Hamamelis
could give you quite a slap in the face if it hit you.
1st March 2015
Helleborus x hybridus white, heavily spotted
The first snowdrops and the first Hellebores opened at about the same time. Last week the snowdrops seemed to reach a peak and when I looked today they
had already passed their best. There are plenty of late ones still to come but when I walked past the beds this morning they felt old. To borrow
Vita Sackville-West's marvellous phrase "all passion spent". However the Hellebores are still building to a climax. Each day they look fresher, brighter,
lusher and more dew covered than they did before.
I try to grow the cleanest colours I can find and I avoid those with contrasting spots. It isn't a matter of taste because I don't think I have any. That
is to say, I don't know what a beautiful Hellebore is any more. My favourite is always the last one I looked at. I have an anemone centred red the colour
and shape of a raw liver straight from the abbatoir. It certainly isn't beautiful or tasteful. Love it.
So I really don't know if I like this white flower with its determined red spotting but I couldn't possibly part with it.
1st March 2015
The first breath of spring. It is a strange idea but the week has been like a deep breath. Warm, relaxed and exhilarating. On Wednesday I walked around
the greenhouse and took all the fleece covers off. All the plants came out from under the benches and all the doors were opened to let some freshness in.
I hadn't planned to do it but the moment I walked into the greenhouse I knew it was time. The Dendrobium spend the winter quivering with fear, wrapped in fleece
under the Pleione bench. Out they have come. A few days of sunshine would be nice to push the temperature up but they need to be in the light now.
Next to them the Cymbidium were packed into a dark corner and it was clear that the time had come to bring them out. They are all looking well and the
new growth has started.
Cymbidium Hawtescens came into the conservatory for winter because it had a spike developing. This is the first time it has flowered for me so I didn't know
what to expect. The hybrid was raised by McBeans and registered in 1951, Hawfinch x Lutescens. I did a quick internet search and discovered that
the FCC clone looks nothing like this.
Once I had had my fill of dreamy spring waffle I switched the water on and took a hose around the greenhouse. Start of a new season.