… I searched for plants that were blooming. Unable to do my usual Boxing Day count of blooms, my first ramble for nearly a week included an initial appraisal of how many different blooms I could find. Although the total is substantially less than every other year since I began the count in 2013, this in no way reflects a ‘downtime’ in the garden, more a pause as it gathers breath for its winter and early spring season.
Although both Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ (above) and H ‘Harry’ (below) had a couple of blooms each before we went up to my Mum’s for Christmas, I was not prepared to find them both in full bloom today; the latter is barely 3 feet away from one of the kitchen windows and got my attentionas soon as I looked out, whilst Jelena is so floriferous that you can easily see her from the house too, albeit further away, and she stopped me in my tracks when I encountered her on my ramble.
They were joined by H ‘Orange Peel’ and H ‘Magic Fire’ (below), which were not showing even a speck of colour when I last saw them. Although the remainder of my witch hazels are not yet in flower I am monitoring blooming times as I plan to open my garden for witch hazels and snowdrops in mid February 2020. Seven of the collection were in bloom on Boxing Day in 2015 and six in 2016, but this year is more typical and the blooms last many weeks so there should still be a good showing in mid February. Rather than add this early opening in 2019 I decided to give myself a winter season to assess blooming times and check out typical seasonal tasks to make preparations easier for the following year.
Snowdrops are pushing through thick and fast; more than half of my specials were evident by way of green spikes at this time last year although perhaps only a third or so this year. It has been fairly mild today (at least 10°C) and this encouraged the three most advanced buds to open a little: Galanthus ‘Gloria’, ‘Godfrey Owen’ and ‘Mrs Macnamara’. A degree or two more and they would have been fully open. It is a little concerning that only one spike of a decent size clump of Mrs Mac is evident so far, although a large hole has appeared next to her, the product, I guess, of a bushytailed visitor. No sign yet either of any Faringdon Double, another usually earlyish snowdrop – but this uncertainty is par for the course for those of us with growing collections of them.
Although there are flower buds beginning to appear on a number of hellebores, it is only ‘Anna’s Red’ and ‘Winter Moonbeam’, both in the new partially shaded border at the side of the house, that I could say are actually in flower yet. Both are H ericsmithii varieties and have typically marbled leaves and flowers that are more upright than many hellebores, but here both have determinedly turned their backs on me:
Sadly, Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has finished flowering, leaving bare twigs and numerous soggy brown blobs, but she was a joy to behold at her peak. Elsewhere, stalwart sarcoccoca is in bud not yet in bloom, and there is little else flowering although the garden is still considerably lush and leafy. With pots of a purple mix of winter pansy and a few blooms of Erigeron karvinskianus this brings the 2018 total to a mere 11, the lowest since my annual count began. It is late December after all, and this is no reason to be downhearted as the garden ebbs and flows with variations in the weather as well as the seasons and every ramble is a journey of discovery, with or without blooms. Blogging has encouraged me to observe the garden more closely, observing changes on a day-to-day basis and celebrating every nuance: blooms and foliage, form and structure, shade and texture, animals, insects and birds. Comparing the number of blooms on Boxing Day is nevertheless an interesting exercise:
11 16 * see the following post for additions! *