9th December 2018
Camellia 'Nobilissima' .
The weather has rolled in from the west during the week, it has been a catastrophe. Or it hasn't, it depends where you stand on these things.
At a practical level, it depends where you are standing. The new greenhouse roof has resisted the rain well. I can finally see an end in sight. I have to tidy up some details
and trimmings but the worst is over. The sun has come out.
For the first time since the summer drought struck, the garden is squashy underfoot. A sense of normality has been restored. The weather has been entirely typical of the season,
wet, mild and blustery. After decades of gardening I have learnt to light a fire in the heath and hide indoors rather than try to fight it. So it has been a good week, I have got
a lot of useful things done and the universe has continued to teeter on the brink.
With the wisdom of a sage, the camellias have teetered alongside the universe. 'Nobilissima' was the first to topple into flower and 'Nuccio's Pearl' was quick to follow. 'Glen's Orbit'
has passed the point of no return. It wasn't quite open last night but it may be this morning.
9th December 2018
Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii JF.2 .
It is always the obvious things that are the most surprising. I have been walking around the garden hunting for the unexpected. It has been like waking from a dream,
reaching for the fragments of memory as they dissolve, yearning for a tantalising moment that isn't there. The garden is yawning in the light, completely dominated
by the restful dark nights. Fragments of spring like the flashes of light through the curtains of a delightful dawn are opening their bleary eyes. So
Euphorbia characias spp. wulfenii was a surprise. A winter flowering Euphorbia flowering in the winter. The shock of the obvious.
A couple of years ago the RHS had a trial of Euphorbia. I remember walking along the rows in spring and marvelling at the diversity
of names nestled within the uniformity of flower. Euphorbia characias is variable in the way that catastrophes are always imminent. The detail seems to matter at the time
but it doesn't persist. E. 'Lambrook Gold' was probably a wonderful thing once. I remember wasting time as a young man tracking down authentic stock. I'm not sure what I wanted
from it, the attributes were never clear, just that it would be better. I'm not sure if it ever was, it certainly isn't now. In the trial it meant that there wasn't a gap in the row.
So I appreciate the honesty of 'JF.2', John Fielding's second introduction from the Peloponnese. Narrow leaved, upright, surprisingly ordinary.
9th December 2018
Hamamelis mollis .
Less metaphysics, more physics. After a cold snap the temperatures went up, the Hamamelis went bang.
I went searching for them a fortnight ago. I wasn't expecting to find anything in flower and I didn't. It wasn't really a demonstration that you only find what you are looking for.
It was more a statement that they were waiting for some cold nights. The buds were burstingly round, the plants had an air of precise spherical geometry that was
quite alien to their normal wispy jizz. Weather forecasters have their own particular style of trash talk. "Yo mama's got a cold snap coming!" was enough to set the Hamamelis off.
I don't expect them before the new year though they often manage a flower or two for Christmas. H. mollis will be in full bloom by then. It is a wonder of the winter
and looks most charming with the fresh snow piled in improbable stacks along the narrow petals. So that is my aesthetes weather forecast. Snow by christmas so that it can look pretty
on the Hamamelis.
It doesn't seem likely from the current weather patterns but it is prudent to look at the big picture. Surely aestheticism is as important as meterology?
If I have a picture of Hamamelis in the snow before christmas I will show it here. I will be roaring with laughter. I won't quite know why.
9th December 2018
Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' .
My generation haven't given up sex, but we have given up desire. You only have to look at us, shuffling along in comfortable clothes with practical hair to see that we have
abandoned desire. I feel sorry for the young, struggling to match up to advertised standards of attractiveness. At least I have genuine decay to hide behind, and the wisdom
not to polish it. That was the train of thought carrying me though the meadow to the golden youth, Narcissus.
I had seen it from the other side of the garden, the first flower to open. Paying respect to it is a strange experience, looking through the scrapbook of your life,
the jogged memories of ages. I remember, for example, that I wasn't wearing glasses when I visited last year. A stumble in a rabbit hole demonstrated very abruptly that
I can't see what's at my feet if I look down in my glasses. That's a new experience. I'm taking more on trust. The squashy ground will be there when I need it.
Spring is here. The daffodils have arrived with the trembling uncertainty of a teenager arriving early at a party. They will become more confident in the coming weeks.
Give them a month or two and they will be insufferable.
It feels as though the garden has turned a corner. The details are chaotic but the trend is clear, the decay of autumn has become the resurgence of spring.
Only winter remains to throw a spanner into the works.