13th January 2019
Aechmea recurvata 'Cardinalis' .
There is a jolly time in the morning when the bed doesn't quite let you go because it doesn't need to. It is warm and relaxed, there is nothing to look forward to but the chill of morning.
Eventually the call of the kettle stirs stiff legs and I waddle into the bathroom to face the day.
It has been a moderate week, I have been demolishing my workshop in the garden before time, entropy and a selection of interesting saprophytic fungi make the process more challenging.
It has been dry but the air has been heavy with humidity. Yesterday it even had enough backbone to be called drizzle. In the middle of January I have been working all day in a t-shirt
and still feeling too hot but there was a light grass frost on Wednesday just to remind me of the season.
The season feels like the night. The warmth hasn't quite let the garden go because it hasn't needed to. It's warm and relaxed, there is nothing to look forward to but the chill of spring.
Forecasters are making ominous sounds about the coming weeks.
Aechmea recurvata celebrates the strange limbo of the season by flowering. I have a number of forms of the species, it is a comfortable thing. Not too big, not too prickly. One of those
'Goldilocks' plants that is just right. I was brought up to believe that Aechmea were ridiculously tropical but this one comes from Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay and the bottom of Brazil.
It will take significant frost if it is dry. 'Cardinalis' has bright red bracts and almost black flowers and was raised by Ed Hummel in California
13th January 2019
Camellia saluenensis 'Apple Blossom' .
There was a time when this garden and gardener were young and innocent respectively. Let me take you on a tour of my trousers.
Trousers are simple things, the layout more or less defines the purpose. You wouldn't imagine that there was any difficulty involved but there are some mornings when the process of
inserting an appropriate limb into each available 'leg' defeats me. Haste is always the problem, I'm in a rush to get to something else and I end up hopping about in a tangle.
So it is with the garden. Early on, despite a simple design, I had a tendency to wander into the garden with a spade and just shove a Camellia in with my fingers crossed.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes the plants have been dug up and moved every few years since. As a result I have a lot of Camellia, fewer names and less understanding.
It feels like wobbling about in the early morning, both legs jammed into a single trouser-leg, shouting to the postman that I'll be there in a moment. I had a parcel of Pleione
delivered this week, would that this were fiction.
As a result, the Camellia I like best are those that are distinctive. Those that stick in the memory long after the label is lost and C. saluenensis 'Apple Blossom'
fits the bill perfectly. Its annual flowering in January is a meaningful delight to me. I have no idea what the meaning is, but it is full of it and it leads me to the unexpected conclusion
than knowledge is prettier than ignorance.
13th January 2019
Cyclamen coum .
The year rolls along and the seasons repeat themselves. It has the inevitability of a television series, returning again and again, never quite the same. The nuances and the understanding
change each time you watch and so it is with the seasons. The garden has a brief but very welcome grey break. For a few weeks at the turn of the year the garden slips into monochrome
and becomes curiously unique. Like the black and white television of the 1960's, it has drifted away to a place beyond repetition.
Cyclamen coum started to flower in December. I have a tall tub of them planted beside a path. Originally it contained a mixture of colours but slowly the white flowered forms have
dominated. I liked them in December, watched the first spiral bud unroll, was convinced that I had found happiness in the fading light at the end of the year. Who knows, perhaps I had.
During the week the first pink flower opened in a monochrome world. A revelation. I thought I had found happiness in December but I was wrong. I had fallen for the promise of happiness
which is a very different thing. White Cyclamen coum were the tokens of spring, the promise to pay. This startling pink stops my heart like falling in love. There is an unmistakable
authenticity about it like an angry vicar or a strong cheese.
I'm not sure why I planted Cyclamen coum in pale colours, I won't do it again.
13th January 2019
Galanthus 'Anglesey Abbey' .
I have checked the weather forecast for the coming week, no sign of frost yet. Things may change of course, at this time of year the weather can turn on a sixpence
but the forecast is as optimistic as can be expected. The season is in its lowest gear, the daylength changing almost imperceptibly. Even the snowdrops are moving in slow motion.
Galanthus 'Anglesey Abbey' has done well here, the broad green leaves make a good foil for the large white flowers. Last year I split a few pieces from the side of the clump, fearful to disturb
it too much. They have established well and spin around it like satellites. It would probably be as well to split it again this year and spread the clump further. A few stray bulbs have
wandered a couple of feet away down the hill, dislodged by a rabbit or a badger. It is distinctive, I could have a larger patch without getting confused. The large flowers sometimes have an extra
outer segment or they can be poculiform, losing the green mark on the inner segments.
It has spent the week like this, looking as though it will burst open in a glorious display the moment the sunshine reaches it. No sunshine so it has kept its head down, tucked into its green collar.
Next week may be colder, or it may be warmer. The heavy snow across Europe may reach this far or the sun could come out. It will be a surprise and the surprise will be decorated with snowdrops.