Christmas Colour and Snowdrops


It is a good year for the snowdrops- the hot summer must have suited them. Galanthus elwesii ‘Peter Gatehouse’ , one of the earliest proper winter snowdrops, has been out for some weeks but the now flowers are looking tired. I plan to divide the clump while “in the green” as the bulbs are in a rather solid clay bank and the numbers have not increased as much as I had hoped. Some of my precious leaf mold around their roots should do the trick. The large flowers of the very worthy Reverend Hailstone- a relative newcomer in this garden- are making a good show. I know that two snowdrop flowers are not a lot to shout about, but it is early days for this particular bulb and there are more to come. A good effort in the first or is it the second year?

The clump of Galanthus elwesiiMrs McNamara‘, another early variety, continues to spread  and the flowers are lighting up the bed beneath my Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula). Galanthus plicatus ‘Warham’ is close on its heels and has spread extensively. Both enjoy the shade in this north bed. I walked around the garden this morning and saw snowdrops nosing their way above the earth in  many places. I was particularly pleased (and relieved) to see the tip of Galanthus ‘South Hayes’. Last year I invested in one of these striking snowdrops and I am looking forward to admiring the bold green outer markings on petals that flare outwards in a pagoda shape. Perhaps this year I will have doubled my investment. How many bulbs does one need before one can say “I have a clump”?!

Heavy Wet Clay

The weather is mild but it is pretty damp and not really conducive to gardening. My heavy clay does not appreciate being trodden on when it is sodden and nor does the soggy grass appreciate the wheelbarrow. The grass never got a final cut despite my efforts to encourage Mr B into action, so it is really too long and of course continuing to grow, albeit slowly. The grass cutting question is an all-year debate.

Winter flowers, seed-heads and leaves

Judicious pruning has resulted in a superb show from both Jasminum nudiflorum, now studded with yellow flowers, and the Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’. The branches of this viburnum are covered in pink blossom including the lower ones. As the shrub grew, the sweetly scented blossom had become increasingly limited to higher branches, both less visible and out of reach of our noses, but the right pruning has cracked the problem.

Clematis are always good value. Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica– the fern-leaved clematis- is clothed in hanging white bells, the interior of which are dotted with maroon freckles. The finely cut, dark green leaves are supposedly evergreen, but I find that the  leaves turn brown in the summer and most are shed only to emerge again in time for the winter season. The decorative silky seed heads of Clematis orientalis ‘Bill Mackenzie’  have persisted despite the rain and wind, and are covering the old greengage tree.

The flowers of Cyclamen hederifolium have vanished to be replaced by attractive mottled ivy-shaped leaves. The flowers of Cyclamen coum will not appear until January or February but I can enjoy the small rounded silvery leaves now. The fat flower buds of Helleborus orientalis (the Christmas or Lenten rose) are just appearing. I have cut off the leaves so that the large clusters of saucer-shaped elegant flowers in shades of dusky purple, cream and yellow will be  easier to see but also to prevent spread of disease.  So much to enjoy despite the wet!

Cyclamen Coum ‘Maurice Dryden’