Head Counts (and End of the Month View for December, ahem)

Every year I go out into the garden sometime between Christmas Day and New Year – weather permitting, that is:

and I make a list of everything that’s in flower.

At least there were a few moments when I could actually see things this year (when exactly does mist become fog, and what’s the difference between either and low cloud?), even if I did get a bit wet and sink into the squishiness that is now my garden.

Ahem. No moaning. New Year’s resolution.

This is, to my astonishment, my ninth Christmas here, and I’m always surprised by what I find. And then I come back inside and warm up / dry off / do both, open up my old garden book, look at the lists from previous years and realise I’ve spotted my surprise before. But I’ve never had honeysuckle,

and this year I’ve got several.

There have been reports in the press of daffodils, and there are a few in flower on the drive of an old house near here, but none of mine are out yet. Some are quite tall and will probably flower fairly soon, but there are already lots of primroses out. Everywhere!

Admittedly, most of them are a bit scrappy and battered – as indeed is this one, but it’s better than most – except where they’ve got a little bit of shelter.

Other things seem to be impervious to the weather, like the vinca I found up by the bonfire heap. Checking out my notes, I see that it was in flower for my festive round-up in 2007, but not before or since.

Some things always flower for Christmas, like a few daisies – except when the ground has been covered in snow, that is. The biggest of my rosemary bushes (it’s huge, and I’m not sure that ‘bush’ really does it justice) is also reliable, possibly because it’s fairly sheltered and protected from the blast by the big cedar and the side of the house.

Another regular is in the bottom garden. The old cherry, which is in a perilous state – a great branch had to be removed in the autumn – is flowering its socks off. It always does this, so I don’t think it’s reacting to the stress of its amputation and I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for its survival.

It’s also always difficult to photograph without the use of stepladders, hoists, a cherry picker, excessive zoom lenses, hooks and a team of bearers or at least a photographer’s assistant. Given the weather, the holidays and the desire of most people to sit by the wood stove and eat huge amounts of Christmas cake rather than prat about in the garden, this is the best I could do solo:

It would, of course, look much better against a blue sky – but hey (not a complaint, note, Resolution Monitor, just a comment). I like to think of it as the west Wales equivalent of the Glastonbury Thorn, but this year there are reports of cherries in flower all over the place. At least mine is supposed to flower now. I’m not so sure about the camellias, though; they don’t normally get cracking until January.

Er – I know, it is January, but only just.

And the double camellia is going mad. It is covered in huge open blooms and big fat buds just waiting to burst.

The very first flowers to appear were a bit wind-burnt at the edges, but either the weather has improved (er, no) or the ones that are coming through now are a bit tougher. Possibly they are less surprised to find themselves in flower than those which appeared earlier in December. I couldn’t stop myself and have taken about eight million shots – thank heavens for digital photography. If I’d used my Leica the processing costs would have bankrupted me!

I love the rather wax-like quality of the blooms, or perhaps they are more like a very heavy satin, the type that doesn’t snag on battered gardening hands. Every year I think that I should cut a few for the house, but I’m not really a fan of cut flowers – they always seem so sad and out of context. Beautiful, yes, but sad. I prefer my flowers in the garden, so I’ll leave them where they are.

And it’s raining again. I was going to go out and finish trimming off the lavender – better late than never – but rats to that now. Maybe a walk, well wrapped up. If the weather is better than this, from the Christmas Day walk, that is:

Who cares? Days like this are the reason for waterproofs. By the way, there should be Snowdon in that shot. Hm.

And happy new year, and all the very best gardening good wishes for 2012 (can’t see the world coming to an end this year myself, Mayan calendar or no Mayan calendar, just like it didn’t end – twice – in 2011).

Finally, very many thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting the EOMV meme. I often forget to thank her, and I apologise for that – but it’s a great meme and an excellent way of making you look at your garden in a considered way. I haven’t really done an EOMV round-up this time (there’s a limit to how many rainy, misty pictures I can tolerate, and I will soon need duckboards), but it’s been a great exercise throughout the year. Thanks, Helen!

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18 thoughts on “Head Counts (and End of the Month View for December, ahem)

  1. patientgardener

    I am envious of your camellias, mine have some buds but it will be weeks before they open and I must have the only snowdrops which are only just appearing above the ground, no early blooms for me.

    You dont have to thank me for the meme at all, I just enjoy having a sneaky look around others gardens

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I’m just going out to check my snowdrops – it must have been a couple of days since I did, so things might have changed (ho ho). It’s no good, I can’t wait for spring!

      And I’m sure natural nosiness is another reason why I enjoy the EOMV!

      Reply
  2. Harriet

    Honeysuckle? In January? The world really has gone mad! The new year has brought the sun back so you’ve inspired me to get outside and re-aquaint myself with my garden!
    Happy New Year.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I know, it’s insane. And I just spotted another oddity – a rose flowering away high up on a trellis. It has has never to my knowledge flowered more than once a year in the past, in June. Barmy.

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Jealous – my hellebores are either sulking or dead (I lost a beautiful H. foetidus last year) or just throwing up leaves. Hopefully we’ll have good weather for a day or so… please?

      Reply
  3. Dobby

    I have a fuschia still flowering from last year, camellias in bud and hellebore flowers. Well, on 2 of the plants anyway.
    You can moan all you like about the amount of damp in these parts at the moment. It is driving me mad. Almost wish for snow!
    Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Happy New Year to you too! Some of my fuchsias are in flower but they’re last year’s flowers hanging on – very, very ratty indeed. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything could just dry out?

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Garden, yes, but with lots of extra twigs. Boy, am I fed up with this year’s winds! (OK, and last year’s winds too…)

      Reply
  4. wellywoman

    I picked a small bunch of flowers for the table on Christmas day. A rose, heleniums, achillea, salvias and alchemilla. It felt very strange especially after the last 2 winters. Happy New Year to you and may 2012 be a great gardening year.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      What a lovely idea – achillea, alchemical???? Mind you, I could have added a couple of Geranium macro. albums – almost as mad.

      Happy New Year, and best gardening wishes (and others) for 2012!

      Reply
  5. Anna

    Rosemary in December – yes but honeysuckle! Now there’s real topsy turvy going on. Here I have a rose still blooming which is a first. Hope that the new year treats you and the occupants of your garden kindly.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s a wrong, we’re doomed, doomed, doomed – one of my roses did the bonkers blooming thing, too, but the winds blew it away. Right now I’ve got a lot of primroses, daffs eight inches high though not yet flowering, but snowdrops which are teeny weeny. Insane.

      Happy new year to you too!

      Reply
  6. Juliet

    Happy new year, Kate!

    I’ve had Leucojum and Narcissus out since November, Crocus since Christmas eve, and Primula since July. I’ve also got one repeat-flowering Rose which has flowered non-stop since May and is still going strong, one which has just come into flower again after a couple of months’ break, and one summer-flowering one which had a single bloom on it between Christmas and new year. No Honeysuckle, but I did have a Hemerocallis out in December …

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Crocus? This is getting more bonkers by the minute. My meadow is behaving as it normally does in mid-Feb – significant primroses, daffs springing up all over. I’ve no Anemone blanda yet, but if they materialise in the next couple of weeks, I’m giving up. I just keep thinking we’ll get a cold snap and everything will DIE. Oh, and my autumn-planted onions are showing.

      Reply

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