Cold damp weather is deterring all but the most enthusiastic of gardeners but there are bright spots. My winter aconites, Eranthis hyemalis, are appearing. They just about hang on in my heavy clay. The dainty yellow buttercup-like flowers are surround by an Elizabethan ruff of green. I must plant more where the soil is to their taste (light humus in dappled shade).
Plenty of snowdrops have opened including John Gray, Diggory, Atkinsii, Hippolyta, Lady Beatrice Stanley and Ophelia. Best of all, the clump of Trumps, with striking green markings on the petals, has increased. The strulch (or frost) seems to have done the trick, so most snowdrops are intact this year.
Iris reticulata are beginning to appear and I am particularly please that it looks as if I am going to have great display in my fire pit. Iris unguicularis (Iris stylosa) has 3 flowers (but lots of untidy leaves). Mahonia × media ‘Lionel Fortescue’ and wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) are also providing both winter colour and scent.
Now is the time to take stock, plan and, best of all, order new plants. I want to redo a small bed that used to be home to a large Daphne pontica which turned up its toes last year. I filled the gap with a couple of salvias but they do not look right so I am going to move them to the drive bed. The hardy fuschia ‘Mrs Popple’ will go with them. According to that informative small book ‘Who does your garden grow?’ by Alex Pankhurst, Mrs Popple lived in Stevenage. An astute nurseryman (Clarence Elliot) noticed a particularly vigorous and free-flowering fuschia in her garden. When he asked her about it, he found to his surprise that it survived outside in the winter. He took cuttings and in 1934 Fuschia ‘Mrs Popple’ was exhibited at an RHS show where it won an Award of Merit. She has been a firm favourite with gardeners ever since. I wonder if Popple descendants still grow her?