Six on Saturday: Timetables

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

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29 Responses to Six on Saturday: Timetables

  1. bcparkison says:

    You have more going on then my garden. A few wild Daf.are blooming and the wild rose is just beginning to show green but thats it. Spring will come..At least it always has.

  2. Kris P says:

    Your garden looks like it’s moving in the right direction for your open-garden events, Cathy. I’ve got my fingers crossed the flowers make a timely arrival.

  3. karen says:

    It’s been freezing all day here, but the blue sky and sunshine has been very welcome. I felt really happy meandering around the plot, although there’s been a lot of disruption here with diggers and dumper trucks driving over the garden for a fortnight installing a new waste water system. We are semi-off grid, so have to have our own septic tank and electric mini-waterworks. The old one imploded in the heatwave when the ground shrunk. I’m sure visitors will find a lot of flowers when you open in a few weeks time. It’s amazing how a few warmer days will bring on the snowdrops and spring display.

    • Heyjude says:

      We need to replace our septic tank, but not sure whether to go for a waste water system. I imagine the old tank(s) need to be emptied and washed before being removed, and how did you manage whilst the works were being doing?

      • karen says:

        Hello there. Can highly recommend DASA engineers. They came, surveyed the site, came up with a plan, and a two man team undertook the work in two weeks. The old tank was emptied three times and then crushed down and the area filled in. The new waste water system is amazing. It’s an electrically operated tank and by the time the waste water and sewage has been treated, it flows out clear and clean. I’m so impressed with the whole project. We only had one day when we couldn’t use the facilities, or run any water down the drains. We did have to keep getting the council out to empty to damaged tank, however. They too were brilliant and came the next day when asked. Get in touch if you’d like more info. I feel like I’m an expert now on off-grid waste water! Rather a stressful time, but all sorted out now, and they are going to come back in April to reseed the back garden which has had several tons of topsoil spread over it. Karen

    • Cathy says:

      Oh good grief Karen, that’s a lot of disruption to tolerate – are the contractors considerate of your garden and its contents at all? Is there a statutory obligation for these replacements, or is it something you have to pay for yourselves? How long is it expected to take? And you are right of course, even just a few mild days will make a huge difference to the garden here

  4. Heyjude says:

    I’m sure the longer days will help bring on the flowers and hopefully your garden will be full of scent too. If nothing else you have great hard landscaping and structures for people to take ideas from.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jude -things have been variable in the other 2 years we have had a Feb opening, but as long as there are some snodrop, which is what the average person will expect. Plant lovers will look more deeply!

  5. I’m sure in a couple of weeks your garden will have some lovely colour for visitors to see. I love the photo of the apricot flowers with their caps of snow. Or frost.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, and even for me there are surprises every day – the prunus had probably been flowering for a couple of days before I noticed! I think it was the dusting of snow that we had last Weds that enhanced the photo, and which remained as it has remained cold since

  6. tonytomeo says:

    The flowering apricot looks more like a flowering peach to me. I think of flowering apricot bloom as limited to the pale pastel range, not such bright pink. I suppose that is still pastel. We have only one flowering apricot here, and it is merely the understock of a flowering plum that was cut down years ago. I am getting to like it. (It is a long story.)

    • Cathy says:

      It is an ornamental variety though, Tony, and doesn’t fruit

      • tonytomeo says:

        Oh, I do not expect a flowering apricot to produce fruit, although ours tries. (It is an understock cultivar that is not as sterile as the more refined ornamental cultivars.) Flowering cherries are more popular in Japantown in San Jose than anywhere else in the Santa Clara Valley. Flowering peaches are a bit more popular in Vietnamese neighborhoods. Flowering plums are unfortunately too common. It seems to me that flowering apricot should be more popular in Japantown because a historical pair of flowering apricot trees at the old Municipal Rose Garden nearby are so admired by the Community. I mean, those who know what they are really appreciate them. It seems like there should be more of them.

        • Cathy says:

          It’s intriguing to hear how different neighbourhoods seem to favour different flowering trees…

          • tonytomeo says:

            It is not so obvious in most neighborhoods of the Santa Clara Valley now because horticulture is no longer respected there like it formerly was. Japantown happens to be one of the more traditional neighborhoods, and Vietnamese culture happens to appreciate horticulture.

          • Cathy says:

            Really interesting, as always, Tony

  7. Noelle says:

    It is as if the garden is in suspended animation, but we have strange quirks of weather every season, and can hardly predict. I think it will be your charm and ability to describe the gardens and plants that will allow your visitors to enjoy your garden.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s a very kind thing to say, Noelle, thank you. I do take the weather as it comes, so was only conjecturing about what might be open – the real plantlovers will notice all the other things anyway

  8. Anna says:

    I think that as Noelle suggests everything has gone into temporary “suspended animation” but as temperatures rise in the next week or so there will be noticeable growth and exciting openings. My nivalis are always behind the specials and only one clump has opened to date. Worry not Cathy – all will go well on the day and I will be keeping my fingers crossed that you get a dry day for the occasion 😀

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, likewise Anna – and there are a few white blobs amongst the nivalis, and it won’t take much for the rest of them to catch up, I am sure. I only need to think of the 40+ people who turned up last year despite the continuous rain to know that it will all go well!

  9. Cathy says:

    Just one day of sunshine and warmer temperatures will probably bring everything on, as I have seen what a difference our mild start to the year has made here. (Well, when I say ‘mild’ I mean just above freezing anyway!) We have already noticed a significant change in the daylight hours too. The prunus blossom is gorgeous and I shall look forward to seeing the Bellevalia bloom as I have no idea what it is! 😉

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, even after our last freezing spell, the sudden new growth was noticeable, so I am optimistic (well, I always am!). The Bellevalia was new to me last year, and I only had them at the tail end of flowering, so I am looking forward to them blooming too 😉

  10. Very nice; at least you have buds and beginnings. In my climate in the Midwestern U.S., we generally don’t have blooms until March, when winter is nearly done. Much to look forward to for both of us, though. 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Yes Beth, our winters are shorter and less harsh than yours – there could be crocuses blooming in a few weeks too, and then some daffodils

  11. Pauline says:

    Your snow capped prunus is beautiful and I’m sure your snowdrops will perform on time for you, my nivallis are coming along nicely and will soon be starting to flower, along with the hellebores and crocus. We just have to hope that the weather is kind to us when we open!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I was really pleased to capture that shot of the prunus – although it stayed cold that week and it retained its snowy cap for several days! I remain optimistic about the snowdrops’ progress and the forecast is looking dry and milder for the next fortnight too 👍

  12. Sarah Rajkotwala - Author & Spiritual Teacher says:

    Your garden looks fabulous, even in winter ❤

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