3rd January 2021
Camellia 'Mary Christian' .
It has been a cold week with clear spells at night and a ground frost every morning. Fortunately there have been clear spells through the day as well. The sunlight hasn't been
strong enough to dispel the frost entirely but it has been cheering. In the cold of morning it feels as though spring has been paused for the week but when the sun comes out
some slow progress is visible.
I have been looking for the Camellia to burst from the shadows in a shock of good cheer, but the shadows is where they have remained. A single flower opened on
'Glenn's Orbit' at the back of the bush, where it was most sheltered. There is an angry red swelling behind my 'Drama Girl' that will eventually be a flower and
'Elegant Beauty' has a frost tipped "event" in the heart of the bush. I can't call it a flower, it isn't elegant and it isn't a beauty, it is a brown tipped event.
As the weather warms up it will become a rich pink event, but it still won't be either elegant or beautiful.
'Mary Christian' has surprised me. I wasn't expecting early flowers but a dozen have opened in the shady heart of the bush. I imagine they are sheltered from the cold night skies.
During the week the blush of pink will spread to the sunny side and it may be the first of the mainstream camellias to make a show.
3rd January 2021
Crocus korolkowii .
Crocus korolkowii has been on the point of flowering for a couple of weeks now. They are an accident, I was given a bag of bulbs last year, but it is gently thrilling to see them
come into flower again. I don't have much success with Crocus in the ground, not enough sunshine and too many hungry rodents may be the problems. These are growing in a tub
and I must remember to feed them so that they continbue to prosper. I could get quite distracted by Crocus so it would be more convenient if they faded away however I'm not
going to give up on the cheer of January flowers for the sake on convenience. If there are a lot more Crocus being tried out next year, this is probably where it started.
I say probably, I planted a hundred or so C. tomasinianus corms this summer, so perhaps the writing was already on the wall.
They sit amongst the tubs of miniature Narcissus and the available space is running out. I may have to find a new home for both during the summer where they can be magnificent in the spring
and ignored once they have died down in summer.
3rd January 2021
Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' .
Snowdrops mark the start of spring and they have been appearing since October. The autumn snowdrops come when the late sunshine is still warming the garden and the promise of spring
they carry with them requires a feat of determination to overlook the implication of the interjected winter.
Once the new year starts there is no doubt that the snowdrop shoots are spring itself, not just a hint or promise. 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' has surprised me by appearing at the start of January,
a couple of weeks earlier than I was expecting. The flowers seem to be hauling themselves out of the ground as though escaping the gloop of winter but I don't mind how spring arrives.
The flowers are very distinctive, it is a double flowered cultivar and all the stamens seem to be converted to petals. The ovary is very small and I hve never seen it set seed. As a result the flower has a
strongly triangular outline that gives a clump a distinctive appearance.
In the snowdrop bed it is surrounded by the shoots of other cultivars in varying stages of development. I always expect the snowdrop bed to turn white with flowers in the middle of the season but it never happens.
The flowers open over a long season and the early ones will have finished long before the mid-season hits its peak. If I want a carpet of white I will have to reposition them,
grouping them as they flower. That sounds like a lot of work, I will live with the seasonal patchwork.
3rd January 2021
Helleborus x hybridus 'Crimson Ruffles' .
I also hope for a carpet of wonder from the hellebores. I am still waiting. I have a large hellebore bed and I hope that the foliage will fill the space in summer, crowding out the weeds
and making the whole thing easy to maintain. Ha!
Still, it is a work in progress. Hellebores are greedy plants and I think I should feed the bed more generously, another one of those jobs that gets put off.
'Crimson Ruffles' is a seed strain produced by Robin and Sue White. I have a single plant that has been reliably perennial but not very vigorous. I am slowly cutting back trees
around the bed giving the hellebores more light and more water and I hope that it will grow with more enthusiasm as the years pass. I have a lot of seedlings and young plants that need
planting out as well to fill in the space. One day the hellebore border will be an undulating carpet of interest from January until the end of April.
With spring struggling to be seen it turns out that however many plants there are, the garden is still mostly hope.