Six on Saturday: Promises, Promises

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.

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24 Responses to Six on Saturday: Promises, Promises

  1. Heyjude says:

    You certainly have a lot to look forward to in your garden Cathy. I have many bulbs poking through, but no signs of any Hellebores.

    • Cathy says:

      This gellebore was new a coupke of months ago and came with a bud – gad probably been nurtured ubder cover. Some of my older ones have the first sign of buds, but I find their flowering time very variable – befire Christmas is certainly unusual

  2. Lucky you, with the snowdrops…and the mild weather! I’m still puttering here in the northern U.S., as we are having a bit of mild weather. But once the temps dip below 0C, I’d rather be hiking or indoors with a good book or a crochet project. You Hellebore and Viburnum blooms are so pretty!

    • Cathy says:

      Sometimes Decembers can be like this – we just have to take it as it comes. I agree that a walk on a cold day is great for both body and souk

  3. Cathy says:

    Winter flowers are my favourites Cathy! I’m often not blogging during the winter, but I want to try and keep up with all your goodies this year. I’ve spent far too much time sitting on my bottom this week – like your neighbour – need to get up and get on again (strimming to do, trees to plant!)

    • Cathy says:

      In recent years I have tried hard to add more plants for winter interest and it seems to be paying off now. It would be good to hear more from you Cathy

      • Cathy says:

        I am trying to do more – I’ve been rather tired and despondent this year. But IAVOM was always good for me! It rains continually here, in any case – it’s been very hard to do normal autumn/winter work. Unfortunately I have to restrict my winter plantings to the street, or near the house in the garden, since parts of the garden become quite slippy in winter. And that’s not even getting going on the soil! I planted a little sarcocca a few years back. It’s still a tiny twig – but not dead yet.

        • Cathy says:

          Sorry to read you have been feeling down – that makes it even better that you have rejoined this blogging community as we are a supportive bunch. I was just wondering whch part of Farnce you are in if it rains so much in autumn/winter?

          • Cathy says:

            Hi Cathy – I’m in Lorraine (the Vosges). But as far as I can make out from other people’s blogs, it is more or less raining everywhere in France now. Not normal. We would have cold and dry – not endless rain. Started end of September, after 3 months of no rain at all. I read today that other people are also saying they had no time for their gardens between the heat and the endless rain. I did have a week or so. But it was not like this 10 years ago when I first arrived.

          • Cathy says:

            It has certainly been wetter here too since the end of September after several months of little rain, but not persistently so. We have our own amateur weather station so I have records for the last few years and it does vary from year to year with no consistent pattern. I suppose the UK is more temperate than your region with fewer extremes though – we only had a week or so when it was too hot to comfortably garden, for example

          • Cathy says:

            Well we had drought from the beginning of June (very, very early, normally hits in July). And it was most definitely too hot to be outside – I had someone visit the garden and he walked around with a large bottle of water and a little handspray to cool himself down!

          • Cathy says:

            Let’s hope that summer and its earing heat was a ‘one-off’ and doesn’t become a regular occurrence

  4. I simply can’t imagine having a complete break from the garden during winter Cathy. I did get a bit carried away yesterday though fooled by the almost spring like temperatures and am aching a bit today 🙂 I hope that your snowdrops and witch hazels oblige and are at their peak for your open garden in February.

    • Cathy says:

      Wasn’t it a glorious morning? Sadly no time for gardening for me 😐 The specials are coming through too but having been blanketed in mulch they are mostly still tucked up nice and cosy

  5. Lora Hughes says:

    I hope you continue to be successful in getting your neighbour out during the non-Gardener’s World months. There’s so much to see in your garden that surely he should be tempted several times over.

  6. cavershamjj says:

    I must look out for my snowdrops peeking through. Planted a 100 or so very basic ones last year, my first foray. I confess I dont understand the fuss over them. The different varieties I mean. They all look the same to me!

    • Cathy says:

      There are fewer things to drool over in winter I suppose and the anticipation surrounding the appearance of the specials is something in itself. Be warned though, if you did decide to venture down that route it is easy to get hooked…!

  7. I love the pink scented flowers of Viburnum. The Witch hazel “Rochester” opening its flowers is divine. I love the helebore. The Winter Bells are emerging from the ground in a hurry: when they bloom it will be a wonderful spectacle. Cathy you have a lot of winter flowers in your garden, it’s fabulous. Greetings from Margarita.

  8. I loved reading about your winter garden – the Viburnum bodnantense and the double hellebore are particularly pretty.

  9. tonytomeo says:

    Hamamelis never became popular here. I sort of think it is because there is so much else blooming through winter. We grew it in the late 1990s, but discontinued it because we could not sell enough. I got a pair of common witch hazel for my own garden. I had never seen it before.

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