Twas Two Days After Boxing Day, When All Through the Garden…

… 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:

2013 18
2014 28
2015  37
2016 14
2017 28
2018 11 16 * see the following post for additions! *

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26 Responses to Twas Two Days After Boxing Day, When All Through the Garden…

  1. D > Your winter garden is lively, Cathy! Winter here in Uist is brutally windy, moderately wet, surprisingly mild. However, one plant that will flower no matter how vad it gets, is Veronica/Hebe. On the very rare occasion that we get a frost, the flowers emit a wonderful scent. Thankfully it seems never to be frosty and windy. The harder the frost the stiller the air, the stronger the scent. This year, we also have Daffodils welk above ground – though it will be a week or two before the flowers open – if they aren’t smashed up by a storm.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you! Interestingly, we have just been up to Mum’s for Christmas (Luing, in the Inner Hebrides) and hebe is the one thing flowering in her garden and what she picked for a little vase for our rioom. I have never even considered that it might have a scent, so the rare hard frost there on Christmas Eve was an opportunity to experience the fragrance wasted!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The witches in your garden are admirable.

  3. You’re so blessed to have blooms in winter. Absolutely nothing here. It will be 8-10 weeks before anything is brave enough to attempt to bloom here.

    • Cathy says:

      I suppose we have to get used to what our respective seasons have to offer, but in the UK I would heartily recommend everyone to add plants for winter interest

  4. Pauline says:

    Your witch hazels are beautiful, mine are still in tight bud! Snowdrops are pushing up furiously, I have more in flower than usual at this time of year. I hope I still have plenty flowering when WI visit in February!

    • Cathy says:

      Most of my witch hazels are still tightly closed Pauline, but it is good to see them all in bud after such a dry summer. Is this the first time the WI have visited your garden? It is a leap of faith choosing a date for a winter opening as the seasons can vary so much, and I hope your snowdrops and witch hazels are at their peak by your opening date

  5. What a beautiful post, Cathy. I saw my first snowdrops yesterday, in a park estate, rather than at home. It was lovely to see them already.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Ali. Do you have any witch hazels? They are a joy at this time of year and for a number of weeks, as of course are a succession of snowdrops. A particularly mild day with a bit of sun like today will encourage any buds to open. Were the ones you saw the native snowdrop, or named varieties? My natives start very much later

  6. Chloris says:

    How exciting to find your gorgeous Witch hazels in bloom. Mine are still in tight bud. I have Mrs. Macnamara out too. And lots more showing white. What a lovely idea to have a winter garden opening.

    • Cathy says:

      Jelena really stopped me in my tracks – she is usually the most floriferous and I do like the orange and coppery varieties more than the yellows. As with the main openings, it seems a shame to keep the winter gems to myself – but it will be pot luck what is actually flowering on the due date of course.

  7. Heyjude says:

    Your witches are delightful. I could do with some fragrance as the local farmer has been spraying the fields around us – very very stinky…!

    • Cathy says:

      Oops! In truth, most of my witch hazels only have a scent if they come into the warmth, and even then not as much they are reputed to – certain varieties, I believe, do have a more powerful scent

  8. Cathy a garden and its plants to flourish depend on many factors and not all years are the same: you know it much better than me. You have some divine Hamamelis, I love the colors that each one has. Your open Galanthus are beautiful, I like them a lot. The Hellebores are about to open their flower buds and they will be magnificent. And all the vegetation that you have different nuances of green and with different textures I like very much, it is very beautiful. Your garden is divine, as always. I hope you have spent a happy Christmas Eve and Christmas with your Mother. If you do not write any blog Happy departure and New Year’s entry 2019. Have a great time !!!! 🙂 Greetings from Margarita.

  9. Oh it’s most interesting to see the variation in flower numbers from year to year Cathy. How considerate of ‘Jelena’ to greet you on your arrival home. She looks quite stunning and more orange then ‘Orange Peel’ 🙂 My greenhouse specials are coming on quickly in this mild weather as are some of them in the garden so I’m pleased that colder weather is forecast for next week.

    • Cathy says:

      I hadn’t picked up that we were due some cold weather till you said – I just noticed it was dry. Glad your specials are doing well. Jelena is so generous with her flowers and always stands out; she is one of my favourites

  10. Christina says:

    I hadn’t remembered that the Witches flowered so early. What a lovely surprise for you.

  11. tonytomeo says:

    Why should it be so bad that fewer flowers bloom in winter? Isn’t that what winter is for. Even here in our mild climate, we sort of expect less color. In my own garden, I am fine without any color. I think I would expect even less if I lived in a colder climate. We grew hamamelis for a while, but it was not popular here, perhaps because it looks like something for colder climates. I happen to like the autumn color. We do not get much color in autumn here.

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