21st January 2018
Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' .
The mild weather has continued. I feel the mildness sloshing up my legs every time I walk through the garden. I walked past the meadow on tippy-toe yesterday
as though frightened of waking something best left sleeping. The reality had more to do with ice skating, at least with ice skating as I practise it.
It is less about elegant skating and more about the avoidance of catastrophe. Falling on ice is hard, cold and wet. The meadow is definitely not hard, but it makes up for the
deficiency in its other attributes. So my tippy-toe had a Bambi fragility about it. The meadow is on a slope. I don't think I would toboggan down it on my back if I fell
but I don't really want to find out. Ignorance is bliss.
'Jacqueline Postill' has become the poster-girl for Daphne bholua. As they say, other cultivars are available. It is 'Jacqueline Postill' that eveyone wants to grow
because it is semi-evergreen rather than quasi-evergreen. The distinction is slight. Perhaps the evergreenery helps her through the winter, certainly she is the only
Daphne to survive here for long. There was a morning earlier in the month when the air around was perfumed by these few flowers so it is the perfect plant for a warm, still
January day. It might happen.
21st January 2018
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Beauty' .
The Hamamelis started early this year and I thought the display might be fleeting as a result, but they have stood up to the weather well. As the bushes get larger they
have become more magnificent and even the red flowered forms have looked good with the light shining through them. It helps that the Camellia around them have been
particularly green and lush this year and made a bold backdrop.
'Orange Beauty' has been good since the year it was planted. As a young shrub the flowers were dense enough to have impact and bright enough to be attractive. As it has grown
the effect has increased. It isn't as strongly scented as H. mollis but 'good scent' days are not a large feature of the climate
in the upper part of the garden, and if I could only have one cultivar this would probably be it.
Raised by Heinrich Bruns around 1955, there are plenty of other orange cultivars to choose from now and I should probably try more of them but somehow this one hits the spot.
I'm not sure I want to fill the garden with near-misses.
21st January 2018
Iris lazica 'Turkish Blue' .
I have an abstract idea that in January the pace of the garden slows for a moment and it is possible to relax and enjoy the quietness. Certainly there have been years
when the skies clear, the temperature falls and animation is suspended. If it happens it is perfect for walking around and looking at the space. For me that means walking around and
looking at the trees that will have to be removed. Actually removing them has to wait for summer when the spring flowers are done but it is good to size them up now, uncluttered by growth.
Perhaps memory is playing tricks on me, and the stillness was always confined to occasional days. I don't think they will be happening this year. Already spring is rushing through the garden
and I have to rush or I miss it.
Winter Iris have been making the point. The first flush on 'Turkish Blue' came and went before I had a chance to take a picture. This one was a bud yesterday and I went to find
it before breakfast this morning to be sure of getting a picture. If I had waited until lunchtime I might have had a second or lost the first. Things are moving fast.
I have been putting off watering the greenhouse, although things have started to look dry. I want to hide from the idea that it has all started again but I can't hide anymore.
This afternoon I will have to find the hose (I coiled it up and put it away somewhere) and a watering gun and get on with it.
21st January 2018
Primula allionii 'James' .
Primulas are the essence of spring. Perhaps there is an autumn flowering species, but I don't know it. Even the summer flowering bog primulas are spring flowers in their hearts,
the last of their tribe to burst from dormancy. I have had double seedlings of P. vulgaris flowering all through last year, in a range of sizes and colours that give
vernacular meaning to the specific epithet, but they are still spring flowers. They are just being silly.
No such recklessness from Primula allionii. It grows on shaded cliffs and under overhangs in a small area near the mediterranean coast where France meets Italy. I was cutting brambles
down yesterday in an hour gap between rain storms when I realised it was quarter past five. The evenings are pulling out again (and I followed suit). Primula allionii
marks the event by throwing a party, and little pink balloons fill the upper leaf axils. They rapidly expand into large flowers. Talented growers produce plants entirely covered in them
but I am happy that the plants aren't dead. I have spent decades killing them in the mild, wet climate here and a few spring flowers are cherished. Not a single fatality this year,
it may be time to look on e-bay for a second-hand trumpet. I feel the need to blow one!
'James' is a pink one among many. It may seem as though there are more names among Primula allionii than the natural (and assisted) variability can support. Indeed, pink, pink with white
and white are all the available options. If they were bedding plants the breeder would have tired of them long ago, but they aren't. They are delightful, precious wee little tuffets
of cultured culture. Every single name represents a breeders triumph, a little pink potted victory. I didn't kill a single one this year, fetch me that trumpet!