Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day January 2013

After a two month hiatus from blogging I thought it was about time I shrugged off winter torpor and got my nose back to the grindstone.  And what better way to restart than with another entry in the Garden Blogger's Bloom Day series.

It's bleak midwinter here in Plymouth.  Which means cool and wet, the occasional mild frost - though that may change over the next week - and even the odd sunny period.  Like this morning.  Although the cloud is coming in and there was snow on the top of Dartmoor when I took the dogs out this morning.  So don't expect too many flowers.  It's not the season for them.

Having said that there are a select few to brighten the darker days.

Two well scented blooms always flower at this time of year.  Mahonia japonica has given rise to a good many hybrids such as 'Charity', 'Buckland' and 'Winter Sun' but the plain species is just as effective, with spiky, holly like leaflets in whorls around upright stems.  The flowers are small and yellow but carried in good numbers on terminal sprays that, with me, open from December through to February.  On warmer days the scent is quite heady.

Mahonia japonica
Mahonia japonica

Sarcococca humilis, the Christmas box, is a small shrub with whispy little white flowers that never flower for Christmas but are in full swing now.  The scent is fantastic, making the approach to my front door a perfumed experience on still, cool days like today.  Black berries are still on the plant from last years flowering - the birds can't be hungry yet.

Sarcococca humilis

The first of my hellebores in flower is always the Corsican species, Helleborus argutifolius.  Almost shrub like, with upright stems of bright green, serrated leaves, it regularly starts just after Christmas and continues till late March.  I remove the old stems at the end of autumn to make way for the new, a policy that works well for all hellebores. I've had this one in place for about twelve years now and it is extremely reliable in its production of winter flowers.

Helleborus argutifolius
Iris unguicularis is more sporadic.  I can get flowers from my small clump anytime between December and March but the actual dates are entirely dependent on the amount of sun.  I had a small flush earlier in the month after a couple of days of brighter weather.  They're nearly finished but I feel justified in illustrating them - albeit with a photo I took last year.

Iris unguicularis
In the rear garden Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles' carries quite a good crop of blooms at the moment.  OK, it does flower virtually all year round unless halted by frost, but it's at its peak at the moment, clothing the shed wall with green foliage and drooping bells, white outside and red spotted within.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'
Underneath it is Fuchsia 'Karl Hartweg', a tender fuchsia that usually gets cut to the ground each winter, but springs back to flower in Autumn and as late in the winter as frost will allow.  It's doing well at the moment, with lots more of the tubular flowers to come.  In the wild they'd be pollinated by humming birds but we don't get those on this side of the Atlantic so the odd fruit is likely to have been set by the more prosaic activities of bees.

Fuchsia 'Karl Hartweg'
I've the odd new flower on Hydrangea 'Mme Emile Mouilere', a perpetual bloomer if frost allows, and on my two Abutilons, 'Patrick Synge' and 'Waltz' but most of the rest of the garden is now in winter hibernation.  With one other exception.  Camellia 'Cornish Snow' has been producing scattered flowers for a good three weeks now, the herald of the new camellia season.  Next month 'Inspiration', 'Donation' and 'St Ewe' should be starting their season.  Their buds are fat enough!

Camellia 'Cornish Snow'

As always, my thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.  Head over there to see what's flowering in many more gardens round the world.