One of our neighbours is bereft when the UK television programme Gardeners’ World has its seasonal break, as for him this marks the end of the gardening year and a winter with no reason to go and potter in the garden. Considering that the break runs from mid-October to the end of March, this is a long time to be away from the garden and I am happy to say that it is not the case here as there a million and one reasons for me to ramble around the garden every day of the year, like the soft pink blooms of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which, on this relatively mild and sunny December day, fragranced the air as I walked by. I still buried my nose in the blooms for a double dose of perfume though…
With encouragement, however, he has finally succumbed to a greenhouse which will extend his season (and give him a reason to walk to the bottom of his garden!), and has also joined me in growing the early ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweet peas which will give him something to nurture over the winter. Perhaps in due course he will feel too the need to grow more plants specifically for winter interest, as I have done in recent years.
Over the fence in our shrub border, where ‘Dawn’ has been preening herself in the colder months, I have this year added winter stalwarts the Japanese ornamental apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ and a very small Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. The prunus still had a handful of blooms when it arrived in its new home in February but this year is covered in lots of little pink dots (picture below, sadly not in focus) all promising a delightful fragrance in due course. Jacqueline was not much more than a stick when she arrived, but am I right in thinking this is a flower bud(second below)? Again, this comes with the promise of precious winter and early spring fragrance:
Regular readers of the blog will know I am fond of witch hazels and have a small and valued collection of them, all bringing a flash of colour and occasionally fragrance to the garden from December to March. Flower buds on most of them form during the summer and early autumn so this is always an indicator of how good their flowering season will be. Hamamelis ‘Rochester’, newest in the collection, arrived here just after flowering early this year so I am especially eager to see it in full bloom. Reputed to flower earlier than some, I was not surprised to see the first shreds appearing this week but have not yet detected any fragrance which it is also meant to possess:
As we are adding a February opening to our schedule for the National Garden Scheme in 2020, I am not in too much of a hurry for blooms to be appearing yet but nevertheless it is good for the soul to have these seasonal promises, joined by the first of many hellebores (H Harvington ‘Double Lilac’) and emerging native snowdrops:
Unlike my precious named varieties of snowdrops which I tick off my list as they emerge (or sadly cross off my list if they don’t emerge), these natives just keep on coming. I never have to doubt their reappearance and each year I dig up clumps, divide them and spread them about elsewhere in the woodland edge border. I probably started with a purchase of 100 about 15 years ago when this border was created, supplemented soon after by a couple of handfuls of bulbs from an acquaintance, and since then they have just happily done their own thing, never complaining when I dig them up in full flower and move them about.
Yes, winter flowering plants not only promise much, but they deliver too – colour, fragrance and a reason to venture into the garden on even the coldest and greyest of days – and today they feature in my Six on Saturday, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator.