It doesn’t have to be Boxing Day (a day I tend to spend lying around the place groaning and/or putting some ancient movie on when the broadcast TV turns out to be shite). Sometimes it can be New Year. Sometimes it’s any day in between… but generally, at about this time of year, I get out into the garden with a notepad and pencil and see what’s in flower. I knew there’d be camellias, as the big white double is covered:
This year I really should have used a waterproof diver’s notebook as it was a bit on the sleety side, but there was
sweet FA not that much in flower anyway, apart from the camellia (I managed the count but not the blog post due to the need to lie around groaning).
I had the other Usual Suspects: verbena bonarensis, my yellow jasmine hedge, a daphne, the Christmas-flowering cherry. There was also a single daisy in the lawn and some geraniums – pelargoniums – in the greenhouse. And a mad penstemon – here’s the rather poorly photographed (low light levels, honest) proof:
Looking back over my records I can see that some of the things I think of as oddities appear year after year. There’s generally, for instance, at least one insane osteospermum and a couple of agyranthemum flowers. I’ve had hellebores (not this time) and leucojums (almost), and one year I had a knautia – but flowering in midwinter seemed to knacker the knautia and it disappeared, never to be seen again. This may well happen to the penstemon; I do hope not.
The notes are also useful for weather jottings. In 2005, for instance, we had snow on Christmas Day, so I did the count on 2 January. The next year there was much more flowering – a skimmia, rosemaries, a Geranium macrorrhizum, an anthemis and a heuchera – but my notes say ‘no significant frost as yet’. And despite recording ‘a huge quantity of rain’ in 2007, there were still crocuses; in fact there have been every year – until now. Oh, and probably one other year: there’s no count at all from 2010, when the garden looked like this:
My notes say ‘IMPOSSIBLE – garden under 5in snow minimum, fell a week ago [BTW – we were later than the rest of the UK and began to feel we were missing out], temps so low that it didn’t go away. Some snow on tops since mid Nov, Beddgelert got to -15, Dolwyddelen colder’.
Now, a few days after New Year, we are under a lovely heavy frost. I’m calling it ‘lovely’ because we didn’t have a single decent frost last year, and I need a few more to kill off the bugs. Of course it’s also killing off the plethora of seedlings that have sprung up everywhere, and may be affecting the geraniums in the greenhouse, but it’s a proper frost. Phew. And some of the sunsets have been fab:
Not quite the last sunset of 2015, but nearly.
All the best to everyone, and to their gardens, for 2015. And may your penstemons always get their flowering seasons right.