20th December 2020
Camellia 'Nobilissima' .
Once again rain has dominated the week, falling in torrents at times. During the week it was drumming on the windows at night and I expected to see rain channels cut through the ground in the morning.
Nothing as dramatic happened. The patch of ground where the gutter overflows is looking damp. Fortunately wet and occasionally stormy weather is keeping the temperatures up.
The chance of a white Christmas is receding and I'm not really sad about it.
Change is crawling through the garden like a sloth in the branches. Buds are expanding slightly as the urge to growth takes hold. It isn't fast or reckless but it's accompanied by a smile or a sigh.
A tight pair of shoes coming off, the loosening of a belt. Buds are relaxing into spring.
Tomorrow is the winter solstice, days will be a fraction longer, the sun will climb imperceptibly higher. This week has been wet with a couple of delightful sunny interludes. I sat outside in the sun
on a couple of occasions, an act of sedentary defiance. Next week will be occasional sunny moments sparkling through a rainy setting. The change in perspective is more significant than the change
in the weather.
The Camellia have been swelling with anticipation. The first flowers on 'Nobilissima' have opened, the earliest of the japonica forms in the garden. There are a couple of other
early flowering plants in local gardens but the names are difficult to track down. If the chance arises they will be added to the early show.
I tend to lose the labels anyway, so perhaps the names don't matter.
20th December 2020
Lachenalia bulbifera 'George' .
There are a few Lachenalia in the greenhouse, wedged between the pots of Nerine seed and the pots of Nerine seedlings. They are easy and reliable, they fill
the occasional gaps in early spring but they also occupy space that I could fill with Nerine. In recent years I have been slipping a few of the smaller bulbs into the large tubs
to add interest when the Nerine finish. That might be the ultimate destination of the Lachenalia. It all started with some unidentified silvery leaves that came up a few years ago.
It became clear that I had re-used the compost from a pot of snowdrops but not removed all of the bulbs first. I have a megalomaniacal sense that the label in a pot should ruthlessly reflect the contents
and at one level the snowdrops revolted me. On another level I enjoyed the revolution, a pot of laughing anarchy highlighting the boundary between sense and obsession.
So I may add the Lachenalia to the mix and let them run riot. In later years I could find myself sitting in the greenhouse laughing insanely or alternatively repotting everything to
restore the illusion of order.
Lachenalia 'George' as been flowering for a couple of weeks, the colour fading as the light reduces. I am hoping that they will last for a few more days and give me some cheer
20th December 2020
Galanthus 'Three Ships' .
The first snowdrops of the season come when the autumn is still puffed up with summer heat. Those fragile flowers are one of the first promises of the spring to come, delivered when the
summer has hardly been dealt with. They arrive like a parcel from a bulb merchant, emphasising the passing of summer with the promise of spring. The autumn snowdrops give way to the
earliest forms of Galanthus elwesii that produce elegant detail around the garden. I have never seen them spread into a display but they enliven small corners.
Galanthus 'Three Ships' is the first snowdrop to have a real impact in the garden. It has large, rounded flowers and it bulks up rapidly, making compact clumps.
I can't decide what to do with mine. I could split the clump during summer and plant the individual bulbs in the woodland. They would flower once the Colchicum had faded,
giving another wave of interest flowing through the under-storey. Part of me wants to leave the ground free so that I can clear the weeds when they are dormant. It is one of those quandries that will solve itself.
One day I will just do something regardless of the consequences and it will cease to trouble me.
'Three Ships' is a selection of G.plicatus and in the last decade I have planted a number of cultivars of the species under the trees. They seem to prosper better than G. nivalis
in the light shade and the hope is that they will eventually make a ragged carpet of interest through much of spring.
20th December 2020
Nerine 'Christmas Dreams' .
The great fanfare of the Nerine season has ended. The first notes are sounded in August, occasional early flowers giving advance warning of the display to come. The Nerine house hits a peak during October
with a second wave of late hybrids in November. The last flowers are still hanging on but the place would look better without them. The flowers are old, damaged and starting the develop mildew.
Perhaps the task for the week should be to face facts and remove them. Once the mass has gone there will be space to appreciate the few very late ones that might keep the season hanging on into March.
'Christmas Dreams' is well named, the flowers have opened just in time for the festive season. It is the last of the N. x versicolor forms to flower and although the flower heads are
small and the individual flowers rather congested, it is vigorous and produces a lot of them. The strange salmon colour is not a classic of Christmas celebration but in the dusk of evening the colour shines out
without looking like the noses of a herd of reindeer. Reindeer in the greenhouse would just be a worry.
With the solstice tomorrow, the weather even poroduced a sunny morning to celebrate the flowering. Much better than a snowman in my opinion.