With only 3 weeks to go till we open the garden for ‘snowdrops, witch hazels, hellebores and other plants of winter interest’, it is still far from clear what plants of winter interest will be in flower by then. We have had nearly a week of below zero overnight temperatures, rising barely above freezing in the daytime; sadly, today’s promised 4 or 5 degrees didn’t materialise because we were shrouded in mist all morning and beyond. One blessing was the sunshine and blue skies that the cold spell brought with it, although temperatures were such that the ground was too hard and fingers too cold for any outside tasks on these sunny days.
On my ramble today I made a point of checking on plants that might be expected to flower in mid-February, but progress is very much on hold. I was pleased, however, to see the first buds opening on Japanese apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-Chidori’ (above), and big fat buds on Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ (below). Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ is also performing in a low-key way, but is easily missed.
Last year, most of the witch hazels were past their best, but I have every confidence they will still be starring on February 12th, along with viburnum and winter flowering Lonicera. However, I can’t be as sure about snowdrops and hellebores and although the named snowdrops that emerged after their move are mostly on their way to blooming, the same cannot be said of the native Galanthus nivalis, nor of the hellebores, with only a small handful of the latter in bloom, and low temperatures making progress difficult.
Even in the Coop, pots of bulbs would usually be budding up by now, but iris and narcissi are still a long way behind, although I was pleasantly surprised to see a bud on Bellevalia pycnantha, and even more surprised that despite growth on potted Narcissus bulbocodium staunchly remaining purely grasslike, on a clump outside were at least two buds, the first time replanted bulbocodium have deigned to flower!
So, who knows what will be blooming in three weeks, and hopefully visitors will realise that plants work to their own timetables. With at least a fortnight of much milder temperatures forecast alongside lengthening days, progress could be rapid and, like most gardeners, I remain optimistic – and after two wet February openings, we must surely be due for a dry day!
Thank you to Jim of Garden Ruminations for hosting this Six on Saturday meme. Do check out his contribution and those of other bloggers around the world