6th January 2019
Camellia transnokoensis .
When it comes to Godzilla you have to consider ideas like reality. How real does a thing have to be for it to matter? That is the issue I find myself facing in front of Camellia transbokoensis.
As the flower buds swell on the camellias in the late autumn the imbricate bud scales form a pattern on the fat bodies that suggest the larvae of some giant insect pupating among the twigs.
They are quite friendly things, there isn't any sense of menace. They have a Bumble Bee demeanour but are coloured in subtle earthen tones, a chorus of hidden cicadas perhaps to sing
a Steve Reich composition from the safety of their perches.
Camellia transnokoensis does it with a subtler, Japanese perfection, though it actually comes from Taiwan. As the buds expand the white petals tipped with red form
striped and immaculate cocoons of surprise. Why is it that I associate that sort of miniaturised perfection with the Japanese and the fat earthy pupae with English gardens?
Is it a process of selection or of editing? How much of this perception could be called real?
These buds have been beautiful for weeks and well worth presenting. The Japanese have fat, green budded camellias aplenty, they just don't bring them to the fore.
So the Japanese grow a Taiwanese species for the pupating beauty of its swelling buds and so that the ravages of Godzilla can seem more horrific. Glad to have that all sorted out.
6th January 2019
Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' .
It has been a week of Daphne weather, though I haven't heard the forecasters saying as much. It has been mild and warm, the scent from Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
has tripped from the flowers and danced in perplexing patterns through the top of the garden. Heavy, humid air has helped to keep it near to the ground, occasional mist hydrating the petals
and protecting them from browning at the tips. Perfect Daphne weather.
I planted 'Jacqueline Postill' half a dozen years ago and she has slowly grown into the awkward slender shape of a teenager in a queue at a supermarket. I am surprised that there are so many
insects that will eat the toxic leaves but perhaps the heady perfume drives them into a frenzy of recklessness. I'm not quite so taken with it though it is a delight to encounter
the scent lurking around the corners, often some distance from the source. I belong to a fortunate generation that can enjoy the scented Daphne weather. Too old to care about awkward
teenagers with digital downloads and too young to have had a maiden aunt who took a sprig of Daphne to her room in case she farted in the night.
6th January 2019
Helleborus x hybridus white double .
Hellebores are filling the garden with promise. I'm not making rash predictions about the cold weather, I have no doubt that it will arrive and cause consternation
before the spring settles down. However, the Hellebores are coming up optimistically and they won't be harmed by a bit of cold.
Down in the Nerine house the last flowers of autumn always suffer from the loss of warmth. The air becomes clammy and condenses on all the surfaces, the last buds become mildewed
and fail to open. The last flowers don't shrivel and drop, they liquify unpleasantly. During November the Nerine stems that are still emerging start to wrinkle along their length.
They dessicate, and I don't understand why. I keep the plants watered just to overcome it, but it doesn't work. I think that in the low temperatures the plants simply can't pump fluid into
the fleshy stems fast enough to keep them turgid.
The Hellebores suffer in the same way during frost or snow. The rounded flower stems flatten, they wrinkle longitudinally and the flowers arch to the ground, falling completely flat if it snows.
The difference is that the Hellebores stand up again as soon as the weather warms. Once the Nerine go over, that's it. It's unexpected because daffodils will bounce up and down
like an athlete on a trampoline. Perhaps the Nerine are too tall and it's all about leverage.
The Hellebores promise remains. They may not stay up if the weather turns bad, but they will be back up immediately after.
6th January 2019
Narcissus 'Soleil d'Or' .
I look out from my front windows over the village and it is all about infill. Every small space is being eyed up for its potential as housing. It is making the place very dense and
rather forbidding, but perhaps that is better than expanding the boundary, I don't know. I seem to be doing something similar with plants. Sometimes I bound into new
plant areas, discovering things I barely knew existed. At present I seem to be filling in.
I have never grown 'Soleil d'Or' before. I don't know why, I think I was slightly frightened of it. The legendary daffodil of the Scilly Isles where it is warm and magical.
Of course it grows perfectly well on the mainland, I have just never quite managed to plant any. I was given a large pot of the bulbs in summer and it was a delight.
I get to fill in one of the accidental gaps in my experience. For that reason as much as the pure delight of it, I am pleased by this first flower. I could have grown it forty years ago
like the paperwhites I am so used to, but I didn't. Like the friend of a friend that you have so much in common with but never quite meet. So here it is, opening on the 1st of January,
an auspicious start to the year. And am I really crass enough to say it? I have been pondering the issue even as I write these words. I think the answer is yes.
Silly Scilly Soleil.