14th January 2018
The wet weather through the week has been keeping it mild. Or the mild weather has been keeping it wet. There is a cart and a horse in there somewhere but I can't work
out which is which. Yesterday I had planned to pot Pleione. It is a joyful job. If I wait until the new year then the flower shoots are starting to show at the base of the bulbs.
It's like Christmas in January. The weather had other plans for me. It rained all day, and although I had several attempts to start the greenhouse was dank and drippy. The lovely light Pleione
compost stuck to everything and my hands were covered in mittens of bark chips. I will get to the Pleione eventually. Bright sun this morning has already started me thinking about cold nights.
I lit the bonfire to fend off the idea, and then came in and lit a fire in the hearth. It just seemed like fire-lighting weather.
Galanthus 'Moccas' has opened in the woods, most of the others have stayed in bud so far. I thought the bright sunshine might open them wide and I could take some pictures
but it wasn't to be.
'Moccas' is one of the Atkinsii group of cultivars and was distributed originally by Helen and Philip Ballard. All the cultivars in the group are very similar, I don't think anyone could distinguish them
reliably without the labels, but they are all good. As Mae West said, too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
14th January 2018
Hardenbergia violacea .
Some things in the garden arrive in a tumult of feverish passion. Other things just arrive, and that's how it was with Hardenbergia violacea. I bought a couple of seedlings
left over in a nursery, just because no-one else had wanted them. It's a plant I sort-of knew, but had never grown. I have seen it in Botanic Gardens - there is a large plant in the big
greenhouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. It climbs along the handrail of a bridge over a chasm. The fine evergreen foliage is nice without being interesting, the flowers small
and the growth tangled. On countless occasions I have enjoyed the time I spent walking past it.
It comes from eastern Australia, growing from Queensland in the north down to Tasmania, which gives some hope for its hardiness in a sheltered position.
I gave one of the seedlings away almost immediately. I'm not sure why I bought one, I certainly didn't need two. The remaining plant went into a large pot and was stood
in the pathway beside the greenhouse. Slowly, but with great determination it has obstructed the path, and I assume it has rooted into the ground. It can't stay there, so I am looking for a new
space for it. There is a large Hawthorn growing in the front hedge that would look better wreathed in purple flowers during January but perhaps it is too old to support the burden.
If the winter suddenly turned frosty the problem might solve itself. As I walked past I would miss it.
14th January 2018
Helleborus x hybridus white double.
I have been walking around looking in all the nooks and crannies for the signs of spring. I'm not sure why I want things to change, the garden is delightful and the
burgeoning promise for the future is more rewarding than the future will be. There is something wintry about hellebores, they are a framework for the double snowdrops
between them, just appearing above the ground. This double white is always one of my earliest. Every year I am determined to raise sed from it, and evey year I miss the opportunity.
Part of the problem is that I have nothing as good to cross it with yet, but any early seedlings would be better than none. I think that as with the daffodils, the earlier they
flower the earlier I can clear through the bed to control the weeds. I am wondering if I should plant broad beans over the top of them in March. I don't think they would mind
the cover and the beans might fix some nitrogen as well as crowd out some of the weeds. I have a couple of months to consider it.
I need to put a seat up there. The most important part of a winter garden is to have somewhere to sit in the sun. To think ridiculous thoughts and savour hypothetical beans.
14th January 2018
Leucojum vernum .
Leucojum vernum has a wide distribution through central Europe, and is naturalised in the British Isles, but not here. It isn't for want of trying. It is such a charming close
relative of the snowdrops that I would like to have it (and those few cultivars it has produced) in the garden. It has not co-operated, and it has been difficult to see why.
Too dry, too wet, sunny or shady, I have killed it repeatedly without learning anything significant. Eventually I bought this one in growth, stuck it in the garden
to enjoy for a few weeks and assumed it would never be seen again. Its re-emergence came as a surprise.
I have started to wonder if the bulbs are as sensitive as snowdrops to being dried out for sale. Perhaps the problem is that I have been buying bulbs that were doomed from the outset.
This one was growing in a pot when I bought it, and perhaps that is what I have been doing wrong. The season for reckless purchasing never quite passes, but perhaps the next few months
might see a renewed interest in Leucojum (though I have admitted defeat with Eranthis - they like hot summers and I don't).
I have been enjoying the quietness of the new year but when I turned the page of my diary, the next weeks are packed with the red scrawl of essential events. Perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place
for the early signs of spring. No time to ponder, those Pleione won't pot themselves.