Friday, 1 March 2013

Spot the difference!

Today is the 1st day of spring according to the meteorological calendar, and normally that fits very well with when spring arrives here in London. The daffodils are usually in full bloom, so are the crocuses and the snowdrops are usually finished flowering. My gorgeous camellia has usually started flowering weeks ago. Usually, usually – but not this year.

On a distance my garden doesn’t look much different than it did 2 weeks ago when I wrote my Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post for February. It has been very cold for a long time, actually since middle of January, with the exception of a few days here and there. Cold weather in London is very cold, bitterly cold, the kind of cold that goes straight through you and feels like you are never going to get warm again. I think it is partly because we are so close to the River Thames, the moisture in the air makes 2-3 degrees Celsius with added wind feel soooo cold. I am out in my garden most days when it’s not raining, with lots of layers and scarf and gloves, just for a little while, just so I don’t get too bad gardening withdrawal symptoms!

This is my gorgeous camellia, on the 1st March 2012, the first flower opened 19th of February last year and it flowered right through to end of May.


This is the camellia yesterday, spot the difference! It has hundreds and hundreds of fat buds, but without a dramatic change in the weather it will be several more weeks before the first flower opens.


This was my woodland corner 1st March last year, the white crocuses opens first, then the blue and then the anemones, which were just about to open in this photo.


The same woodland corner yesterday, a few white crocuses have just emerged, but not opened, no sign of the lovely blue crocuses – and the anemones are still firmly underground.


A close-up of the white crocuses, just in case you missed them in the previous photo, they are still tiny!


The ballerinas in my garden have just started to emerge though, my Trillium cuneatums. The clump is getting larger every year and all of them are not yet out of the ground. I can’t believe how many I got from that one tiny plant I got back in 2004. Just wait till they open so you can see them properly, they look spectacular. And if you look really closely you can see some anemones that have self seeded from last year and strayed off into this clump of trilliums, they are the only ones out of the ground, although not flowering yet. I think I might have to do some careful lift and move of these little beauties so they can get a better place to grow.

One of my hellebores is in full flower, these were tight buds two weeks ago.


But something strange is happening with my hellebores this year, I have five Helleborus hybridus and two Helleborus niger in total. Only one Helleborus hybridus is in flower, one has one tiny bud, the three other looks like this, just tiny emerging spikes that doesn’t seem to do anything – they have looked like this for ages. This is what my hellebores usually looks like in January. One of my Helleborus niger produced one single flower, the other one there is no sign of – no flowers and no leaves. Not a great year for hellebores in my garden, although the one in the previous photo has produced hundreds of hellebore babies, so in 4-5 years time I should have a much bigger collection, fingers crossed!

This will probably be the first daffodil to flower, not long to go now!


And my hyacinths are not far from flowering either, not long to go!


Here is part of my nursery area, the young plants were basking in the crisp sunshine yesterday, but don’t get fooled into thinking it was warm – it was bitterly cold! With temperatures hovering around 3-4 degrees Celsius and a cold arctic wind for weeks on end I have been dressing up warm and making my trips out in the garden rather short, just to check on things, feeding the birds and do a bit of pottering about. I do need a short trip out in the garden when possible, to keep at bay those gardening withdrawal symptoms that tend to creep up when I haven’t been in the garden for a few days. We are promised slightly warmer weather towards the end of next week, but that’s a long way ahead, much can happen till then. Until next time, take care.

28 comments:

  1. I love this post Helene, it is like GBBD. Blogging makes me be very informed of the flowers after winter and i almost memorize all of them from snowdrops, etc,etc. I love them, i guess you just lack witch hazel to be like the rest of the temperate country gardens i've read.

    I love also your margins, are they wood? And I also feel cold when you say its about 3-4C there, how lovely if we can barter for some temperatures, we will all be happy in moderation!

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    1. Thank you, yes the border around my beds is made of wood, pressure treated wood. I painted it the same colour as my fences before putting it in the ground, it makes it last longer and looks better I think, blends in better.
      I would love to have a witch hazel, but in my small garden I got nowhere to put it. Please send som warm weather my way, it will be well received :-)

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  2. It is interesting to see the comparison photos of this year and last year - photographing the garden regularly is a good way of keeping a record. There is no sign of any flowerheads on my bulbs so I am even further behind than you are.

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    1. And last year wasn't even an early year, it was pretty normal in my garden. Let's hope we soon get some amazingly warm weather, like what we had in middle of March last year, that would get the bulbs going!

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  3. Helene, nice to see your blooming crocus, daffodils and hyacinths in buds.Soon your garden will be in many colors. Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, I am more than ready for spring now. Have a nice week-end you too!

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  4. One of the best things about blogging is having a record of the garden from year to year. This year might be a little disappointing but, as you said, you know it won't be long.

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    1. Hopefully it won't be long...never know with the British weather!

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  5. Last year we had a very mild winter. Everything was weeks ahead of schedule. This year our winter weather is much more normal and I think we are in for a much later spring. I guess these sorts of variations are to be expected.
    What a nice array of spring bulbs you have! Your camellia is gorgeous and well worth the wait. In the meantime, it is nicely evergreen. I look forward to seeing the Trillium cuneatums.

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    1. Thank you, my trilliums will be thoroughly photographed and written about at a later stage, and hopefully I will also be able to show some Trillium luteums, they come a bit later.

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  6. Proof that the plants don't care about the dates. They only know how warm it is. Interesting, though, how different one year to the next can be. The differences are quite striking! I would have thought that at least the hellebores would have been up! I hope you warm up soon. We have been a bit cooler here than the last two years, too. It's great to have records from year to year to be able to compare.

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    1. I'm not sure what has happened to my hellebores this year, but I don't think it can be low temperatures only, as one of them is flowering beautifully. Hopefully the other will catch up. We are promised warmer weather towards middle of next week, not exactly summer weather but just a few degrees will help!

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  7. I look forward to seeing those camelia blooms...they are gorgeous. We have had a cold winter as well, but I am glad it has been more normal than our very warm winter last year. The daffodils have only just begun to open. I have more buds than actual blooms. I love your bright header...gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, my header was in for a renewal after 2 years! I am still waiting for the first daffodil to open, that's late, having to wait to March to see daffodils, they are often almost finished flowering by this time!

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  8. It seems like a late spring is an unusual these days when spring more often comes earlier and earlier. Your 2012 photos are gorgeous! I look forward to seeing your blooms for 2013.

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    1. Thank you, here in London it varies from year to year, but it is a long time since we have been this late.

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  9. I have just seen your video 'garden over the years' and the seasons. I do like your small garden and how it evolves every year. Although it was already charming before, it was a good idea to move your central flowerbed to the left side with a curved pathway inviting to a walk and making the spot look more spacious. I have been taking care myself of a small garden for two years in the north of France and yours is a good and inspiring example for me. I will come back with pleasure to your videos and blog regularly. We had a snowy and pretty cold weather this winter, and like all of you, I look forward to Spring and new plantings and bloomings in my and your garden.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Martine

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    1. Hello Martine and welcome to my blog. Great to hear you got inspired by my video showing how my garden has evolved, it has been an 11 year long project and I am still planning new things for my garden!

      You didn't leave a link to a blog, do you have your own blog? If so it would be great if you can leave a link so I can follow you too. Take care, Helene.

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    2. Hello Helene,
      Thanks for your quick reply and welcome word.
      I don't have my own blog yet, maybe later. I am a beginning gardener (2 years experience) but have a big passion now since I have been in charge with my parents'garden - small,90 square meters where every inch counts,but with high potential - . I am simply continueing what they started 20 years ago with good taste (existing trees, sturdy bushes, very green place all along the year giving refreshing and pleasant views from inside the house. Gardening teaches patience and humility and led me to be interested in any garden and flower in my region or preferably in similar climates to try them in my place. It could be that between our respective climates, there is some similarity. Although big gardens and parks are very attractive, I simply try to do the best from the small space we have. Reason why I like to look at your photographs,to follow your own experiences with gardening, as well as the other members'reactions and feelings. So, thanks to you and to them.
      Martine

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    3. Hi again, my experience has been to start small and add to it. My garden is even smaller than yours, only 60 m2 including the passage from the back door where I have my nursery area. Even so, if you count all the plants I have in my garden, from the biggest tree, to every lily, every rose, every single daffodil and every single crocus and tulip - then I have over 1.000 plants in my garden. They are not in flower all at the same time, they are not even visible all at the same time, some are dormant in summer, some are dormant in winter, but I have planned the garden so there are always lots of plants in flower. Things like that takes time, and is so fun! Enjoy your little (bigger than mine) garden, and good luck!

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  10. http://www.songsparrow.com/2013/plantlist.cfm?type=WOODY,&startrow=1&subtype=all

    Helene... take a look at this link for Song Sparrow Nursery... type in Magnolia in the search box. Many of these plants are hybrids from my friend Dennis Ledvina and are being developed as upright for the small space. The question is, can you locate them. Dennis recently did an article for the British Horticultural Journal and I know his plants are starting to be found in Europe. You would be very far ahead to use a plant that is hybridized to be narrow... The little girls series really are at heart... shrubs. I have my list down to 14 choices from this list in the catalog... I may go for them all... they are the future!! Larry

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    1. I have had a look - all afternoon - sigh...if I could only afford to buy directly from him, but the cost of import would kill me. I have sent off a few emails to some of the biggest nurseries here in UK, told them what I hope for and asked if they can recommend anything from their stock. Hopefully at least one of them will come back with something useful. If I spend £300 I can get what I want tomorrow, unfortunately I haven't got £300 to spend on a magnolia, gorgeous or not!

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  11. What a comparison, it's no wonder it's getting you down! As you've already commented on my my blog that it's warmer up here (makes a change..lol!)
    Your blooms don't look too far away - my daffs are no where near budding up yet and the camellia buds are still small. More than likely the lack of sunshine last year is the cause of the delay this year.
    I've seen a trillium I really fancy but it's expensive (£13) for one plant - I haven't taken the plunge YET!!
    I'll be looking forward to seeing your blooms on GBBD.
    Meant to ask - how's the bird feeding going?

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    1. I had to check on the daffodil today too, still not open but more yellow than in the photo - a few more days perhaps!
      I have seen a trillium I could kill for; Trillium grandiflorum Snowbunting at £22 each, Google it if you haven't seen it before, I wish they weren't so expensive, but having in mind I started with only one cuneatum I might just get one!

      The bird feeding...hmm...I am feeding the resident wood pigeons, that's all. Wasn't really planning to do that! I will make a post about this soon, have seen some sparrows, and the squirrels are more and more daring, today I sat less than 3 feet away while one was eating seeds on the ground. Typically my camera was just out of reach....
      GBBD is almost 2 weeks till, hopefully wonders will have happened till then in our gardens!!

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  12. Hi Helene, I actually find your comparison photos encouraging in making me realise it is not just me staring out of the window and wondering why it doesn't look very good. A couple of narcissi look like they are about to open all of a sudden but most bulbs look like they have a long way to go.

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    1. Hi Claire, I found a few more crocuses in flower today, none of them are fully open yet but at least it is possible to see which colour they are! And my mouse plants are sticking out of the ground too, things are happening, just not as quickly as we are used to.
      I am ordering summer bedding plants tonight for the window boxes in the front garden, being very optimistic and hoping that by beginning of May we have weather for it...

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  13. What a difference a year makes! It's fascinating to see your 2012/2013 comparison! The same sort of thing is happening here, except that my garden is still covered with several inches of snow. I agree: Cold, rainy weather goes right to your bones. Brrrr.... Hang in there!

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    1. I am! I have been out in the garden most days, when it hasn't been raining - which it hasn't for a while now, but despite lots of clothes I can only manage a short while. Thank goodness for my electric throw so I can get warm again when I get inside :-)

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