The value of winter blooms cannot be overestimated, although this year there are no waifs and strays to join them from milder days as there often is. The witch hazels continue to form the mainstay of colour in January, with all Wordless Wednesday‘s still in bloom but joined now by a few additional blooms on H Spanish Spider (bizarrely in full flower in September) and the first to appear on H Arnold Promise, the one variety of mine which does have a definite fragrance. Clockwise from top left are: Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’, Hellebore ‘Ellen Picotee’, native primrose, Hellebore foetidus, Hamamelis ‘Spanish Spider’, Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, Clemati cirrhosa ‘Freckles’, Hellebore ‘Harvington Double White’ and Lonicera standishii ‘Budapest’ in the centre.
None of this is very different from a month ago, and as you can see only a few hellebores are in bud and the viburnum blooms are still largely closed – but at least ONE bud of this winter flowering honeysuckle has finally opened and I anticipate its fragrance which will soon join the strong and distinctive perfume of Sarcococca humilis which is now very noticeable:
White buds are continuing to pop up alongside the foliage of snowdrops in my specials bed, but they still lack the few degrees extra warmth needed to push their way up further out of the ground and open up to nod sagely at the world:
After assessing my special snowdrops a few days ago I have now taken the decision to keep new acquisitions in pots for their first couple of years or so. Closer inspection of purchasing records has shown that a number of bulbs bought to replace previous failures have also failed and the bulk of failures seem to be from purchases made early in 2015. I had a big problem with compost in 2014 with young plants failing to thrive and although I had moved on to an alternative by 2015 I do wonder if the compost might have contributed to the demise of such a number of bulbs. I would have repotted some clumps at the same time too which could explain other random losses.
My compost experience in 2014 demonstrated just how important compost choice can be and as a subscriber to Which? Gardening I avidly check out their annual reports, as they test each year and the most successful brands do vary. What reports showed around 2014/15 was that the quality of some brands varied from batch to batch, particularly where green waste was included, and they pressed manufacturers to list green waste percentages and to date stamp bags, as old compost tended to deteriorate. They test separately for the suitability of composts for seed sowing and raising young plants as this too can vary widely. This year, taking availability into account whilst avoiding having two separate types of compost I have gone for a brand that has scored highly for both, Wyevale’s own multipurpose with added John Innes. It still needed a 20 mile round trip but with a promotional multibuy it should be worth it to ensure a good start for my seeds and plants – and any new snowdrops!
Linking this monthly Blooms Day round up with Carol of May Dreams Gardens who kindly hosts this meme