What on earth…?

I can’t be wordless this Wednesday, because I’ve just found a plant with an identity crisis:

what the?

It is January, for heaven’s sake. What does this Osteospermum think it is doing? I mean, I know it’s been mild – wet, yes, but comparatively mild – but that’s just silly.

And something tells me that these Cerinthe seedlings are in for a shock, too:

clethra confusata

They are all over the place. You’d think that Cerinthe seeds were large enough for me to notice, but I did have a lot of plants. And a lot of bark chippings for them to hide inside.

The earliest crocuses do usually appear about now, so I’m not so worried about them. I did think, though, that I had better photograph them before they got shredded by the weather, while they still look attractive and not moth-eaten.


I planted these – they fall into my fetish for striped flowers – so I ought to know what they are. That’s the theory. I think I’d better make a resolution for this year – save labels and packaging, or at the very least (jackdaws like ripping up labels and tossing them about, or at least mine do, possibly while hunting chafer grubs) make a note and add roughly where the plant has been put. It’s not impossible; I used to do it. Once upon a time.

I’ve also acquired an unexpected non-plant bonus,


entirely due to a new and surprisingly impressive leak, and an emergency call for help. Forty-plus slates needing replacing, just before Christmas (mind you, it’s probably as well they went when they did, in view of the continuing vile weather). So I’ve kept the remains and we’re going to break them up and use them around the exposed roots of the Western Red Cedar that was taken down in the summer. I had thought of doing a ‘before and after’ post, but since you can’t actually see further than about 10 metres today, that’s gone out the window.

Maybe that big yellow thing that appeared in the sky briefly yesterday will come back. Maybe.


31 Comments Add yours

  1. Dobby says:

    I think there are a fair few plants undergoing some kind of crisis at the moment. The Osteospermum is lovely though! Am just wondering how many plants I am going to lose to water logging and frosts this year.
    Good idea for the slates. They do make a nice feature as well as being practical. An expensive way of going about it though:-( Don’t talk to me about jackdaws …..

    1. kate says:

      I think I’m undergoing some sort of crisis! This year is so bonkers – and now all levels of the garden are so squishy it’s like walking on a bog…

      Not many frosts yet, mind…

    2. Dobby says:

      Went up to the garden today and discovered a honeysuckle (at least I think that is what it is) has come into flower for the first time in the 5 years I have been living here. It’s very pretty if a little deluded!

      1. kate says:

        Insane. I have at least got a few snowdrops out, just as reassurance that some things are vaguely normal. Never thought I’d have snowdrops and osteospermum out at the same time, mind…. We’re doomed, man, we’re all doooooomed…

  2. Joe Owens says:

    I love Osteospremum. When i had my greenhouse business going I used to combine trailing Osteos with trailing Verbena for a showy combination. They look good with a number if other annuals. You must really have a warm winter so far for this fellow to still be blooming!

    1. kate says:

      They’re so jolly and cheerful, aren’t they? I like the sound of that combination… I have never ever seen it blooming before; I can only assume that it’s as confused as I am by the weather. Insane.

      1. Joe Owens says:

        Is this something you planted earlier in the year? Sometimes plants spread when birds move their seeds.

        1. kate says:

          No, it’s been there for ten years after I moved it from my mother’s garden, via my old garden. It’s part of a huge plant, and no over flowers look likely to appear, just this one. Most odd…

  3. Christina says:

    That’s not so strange about the Osteospermum, mine are flowering too, I think it is because they are a South African plant and it is summer there now! Christina

    1. kate says:

      Hee hee – hadn’t thought of that explanation!

      (I need to pay them a home visit. Second day of mist here, so thick I can’t see the bottom hedge clearly from the house – about 12 metres or so.)

  4. paulinemulligan says:

    Wonderful to find unexpected flowers in the garden, anything that flowers at this time of year is a bonus and to be treasured! Its going to take a long time for the gardens to dry out, at least all my bog plants will be happy!

    1. kate says:

      I think my garden is turning itself into a bog garden. Apart from the bottom garden, which seems to be going the whole hog and heading for rice paddies. Cold rice paddies, admittedly, but I am thinking of importing water buffalo.

  5. I think Christina has the answer to the South African upstart. Love the crocuses. Am making up for my unbelievable (to anyone who knows me) restraint on the seed buying front by planning an absolutely enormous bulb order for the coming autumn, so that I too will have crocuses. And daffs. And tulips. And anenomes. And snowdrops. And erythroniums. And…

    Don’t worry, I am back in the area at the weekend so that yellow thing is bound to come out to play. It knows I have lots of fence to paint. Again…

    1. kate says:

      Yes, I think she does!

      Th croscuses are now reduced to a small patch of stripy slimy things in a puddle. I do hope the rest of the bulbs fare better but I hate to think what this flaming weather is doing to my fritillaries. Sigh. I did a vest bulb order a few years ago which has probably ensured the survival of Bloms into the next century, and it was well worth it. Go for it. (What, me? Enabler? Oh, surely not…)

  6. We have a few osteo flowers but they are being protected in our cold greenhouse.

    Is the crocus PIckwick or Striped Beauty? Do either names ring a bell?

    1. kate says:

      Not sure, but I don’t think so… I did have some Pickwick, but not there. Not even near there…

      It’s rather unusual in that the stripes are on alternate petals. I’m still mystified; I found my old bulb catalogue and I’ve written everything else down but not that. Nor, though, are they in the catalogue. I can only imagine I got talking striped things when I rang through the order and it got added informally. I’m going to rescue the clump and move it somewhere more sensible, because the alternate-stripe thing is wonderful.

  7. wellywoman says:

    My dicentra is pushing up fat buds which is about a month earlier than normal and my honeysuckle is unfurling its leaves. It’s just so mild, more like March really. It does feel like our weather is all messed up. We’ll probably get snow in April.

    1. kate says:

      Dicentra – no! Stop it! (My honeysuckle has a flower, mind.) That’s almost about as wrong as my Osteospermum. I think we need some cold – though according to the weather forecast we might just get some. Please. But only if it stops raining… I’ve no particular desire for snow, now or in April. I get marooned up my hill. Ridiculous, so close to the village.

  8. Cathy says:

    Amazing to see that osteospermum – and even better in that lovely shade of pink. For some reason your post that came by email has ‘clethra’ instead of ‘cerinthe’ – how on earth can it do that? When I click into the post on your site it says cerinthe, which saves me asking what a clethra is! At least it’s reminded me to add some cerinthe seeds to my list (how’s yours going?! 🙂 ) Shame to break up your slates – I have used them propped against clematis to shade the roots, and I also write/paint quotations on them

    1. kate says:

      No seed list here, excuse me while I dust my halo, 😉

      Ah yes (cough, cough), I typed ‘clethra’ when I meant ‘cerinthe’, didn’t notice, pressed publish and then reread it and made the change, oops. I do have too many clethras, or rather I did until P. ripped one of them up. We’ll be removing the suckers for the next decade I expect. The slates are, unfortunately, a bit too knackered for any other use – badly abraded and cracked. Like the idea of shading clematis roots…

      (You really don’t want a clethra, but if you do I can probably supply several. No, I’m being unfair – there is one that doesn’t sucker so much, and I’ve got one of that, I just made a mistake with no 2. The scent of the flowers is wonderful, just overwhelming if you can’t control the swine.)

      1. Cathy says:

        Tee hee – it didn’t occur to me that there was such a simple reason for the clethra confusion! But I AM confused about the cerinthe, cos I can’t imagine the one I have grown in the past suckering, so I must have had the goody-goody one and not the thug. Will look it up and see

        1. kate says:

          I’ve done it again – I think I should have a ‘two cups of coffee’ before posting rule. The cerinthe is fine, nos uckers there, just seeds itself everywhere; the clethra (shrub) is the bastard sucker-generator, or rather one variety is. The whole confusion isn’t helped by my ******** spellchecker changing ‘clethra’ to plethora every time I try and type it…. Plethora is all too apt. Where’s that coffee?

        2. Cathy says:

          The plot thickens – so there IS such a thing as a clethra?! I’m going for a glass of wine – perhaps it will clear my head 🙂

        3. kate says:

          Oh yes, unfortunately there is. AKA the sweet pepper bush. It’s an acid lover, so if you can grow heathers, camellias, azaleas etc you can grow clethras. And if you pick the wrong one, you won’t have any room for heathers, camellias, azaleas etc…

  9. hillwards says:

    Ah – snap on the cerinthe seedlings! And I love those stripy crocuses. Could they be Crocus vernus ‘King of the Striped’? I’ve had my eye on those for a while – how could anyone resist such a name? 🙂

    1. kate says:

      D’you know, I think you might be right with the crocus? That name rings a bell. They’re little beauties.

      Scratch that. They were little beauties. It’s raining AGAIN.

      1. hillwards says:

        Boo for the rain. I meant to find some of those crocuses for this year, will have to make underlined notes to myself for next year. On my forehead perhaps. 🙂

        1. kate says:

          And I think I probably need more. Maybe I can try keeping them in a little shelter. Or perhaps my whole garden should go under one gigantic polytunnel.

  10. Love the crocuses. I can’t find any of mine out there. I was away last week with family in Devon and I wonder if they came up and went over to slime between Monday and Friday? I concur with the suggestion of King of the Striped. I almost bought some last year and am now wishing I had done.

    1. kate says:

      I’ve just found two more clumps, so go investigating – they’ll be there somewhere. I’m almost 100% certain about King of the Striped – I remember being intrigued by the name…

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