There are certainly no regrets about that selective snipping of leaves from Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Carol’, as she has responded by singing a completely different song, her pure white flowers lifting to the sky and belting out their new melody. The leaves were only trimmed a week ago and this post from the end of December shows how crowded they were before this, when I lifted the plant slightly to see if that made any difference. I am all but convinced now that the plant had retained every leaf she ever produced and that this density of healthy foliage made it harder for the flowers to do their thing. She has reached instant superstar status!
The not so pleasant big surprise was when I realised how much electricity we had used in the last month. Since we had our solar panels nearly 3 years ago I have kept a monthly record not only of our electricity production from the panels but also of our monthly usage of gas and electricity. December’s consumption was way above a seasonal average, and including night units it seems highly likely that the culprit is the new greenhouse heater. Although it uses only 180w of power, if it is heating continuously then that tots up – clearly I hadn’t set the thermostat low enough to keep the greenhouse only just frost free. It seems ironic that the powerful 2.8kw one I have just sold on eBay was sensitive enough to switch off at temperatures more than just a degree or two. Another lesson learned, and having tinkered with the setting this afternoon I will check our electricity consumption in the morning.
The second big surprise was a pleasant one, very much so, towards being on a par with finding the first flower bud on the wisteria which reduced me to tears. This surprise, though, produced cries of excitement and wonder. I was inspecting the snowdrop border on my first ramble of the day, pleased that this morning’s sunshine and blue sky were encouraging the little darlings to open up a little more and deciding that it was nearly time to introduce a few more of them on this blog. One such emerging beauty is a snowdrop that appeared label-less two years ago but which I decided on the evidence at the time was Galanthus gracilis and labelled it as such. She didn’t flower that year or last, so I was pleased to see a bud appearing in 2014 – and even more pleased this morning when she spread her wings a little and without even close inspection showed a hint of inner yellow frill …..
The advantage of keeping a record of all the special snowdrops purchased is that if they lose their label I know what the options are (and having a snowdrop map is now a further safety measure), so I know exactly what to try and match any ‘unknowns to – and exactly what this snowdrop was….. ‘Lady Elphinstone’, the first special snowdrop I ever bought, along with ‘Pusey Green Tip’, from a local open garden in 2005 – where has she been hiding all this time…?! Ironically, I bought a replacement last year, but nevertheless the original has made a welcome and triumphant return – Hurrah for Lady Elphinstone, the instigator of this seasonal obsession!