There is a price to pay for too much of anything good. I think we can all agree that too much nice food ends up on your hips. Too much of this nice weather has resulted in record breaking rainfall with flooding many places here in Britain, and tomorrow we are facing storm number 5 in just 6 weeks. Here in the more protected and quiet corner of South East storm Eve will probably be just windy weather and a lot of rain though. Not that we need any more rain, whenever I walk around in the flower beds here in my new garden, my wellies make a ‘squish – squelch – splosh’ sound for every step I take, and the clay soil that was hard as concrete and I had such a struggle getting a spade through in the summer is now absolutely perfect - for pottery.
Anyone hoping for a white Christmas in London can just forget about that, here is the forecast for the next 2 weeks and the mild weather is set to continue. We had colder days in August! A white Christmas is actually incredibly rare for London, although it does happen in other parts of Britain from time to time. It is more likely to see snow in February than in December here in London, if at all.
Last night, as I was about to go to bed, I noticed a lovely moon right over the roof of the community centre behind my garden. I just had to go out and take some photos. I remember last time I stood out here taking photos of the moon at 5 am, that was when we had the ‘Super Moon’ – I could swear the moon was exactly the same size last night though.
It was 14 degrees C at 5 am, the birds had started to twitter and they kept flying around my bird feeder while I was sitting on my stool taking photos – in my nighty and dressing gown. Well, I had already got changed when I discovered the moon but I couldn’t pass an opportunity like this. The things we do for photos for our blogs, eh?
Eight hours sleep and a breakfast later - and this is how my garden looked, a nice, quiet day squeezed in between a couple of horrible rainy days earlier in the week and more horrible weather to come.
I have been trying to plant some lilies in the corner along the wall, but the clay soil is so heavy I can’t manage it right now. Every time I stick a spade in the ground it comes out with 5 pounds of clay clinging on to it. Hard work!
The mild weather is making plants flower all around me, here are Helleborus hybridus ‘Picotee’.
And this is Schizostylis coccinea 'Pink Princess', a newcomer to my garden, but I love it already.
I inherited a Syringa vulgaris, a purple lilac with the house, it was tall and leggy so I chopped off half of it in August, fully expecting to miss a year of flowers, but it is full of buds and some of them are just about to pop open. Anyone heard of flowering lilacs in December before??
I have been planning to present my houseplants in this last post before Christmas, and although I have posted about my orchids before, I have never showed all of them. I don’t have as many houseplants as I used to have when I lived in Norway, simply because when I lived in East Ham I had a rather dark, Victorian house and very few windows where I could have plants – most of the windows had big radiators right beneath. Here in my new house the radiators are placed elsewhere, but there were no windowsills so I had to come up with a solution. I bought some cheap TV-benches in Ikea for £9 each and they are excellent for plants, just the right height and dept.
This is the window in my bedroom and without heating on in this room it is excellent for getting my orchids to start to produce new flower spikes. When they have got well on their way I move them into the living room where it is warmer and swap with some of the other orchids.
Right now I have NO orchids in flower, which is rather unusual, but perhaps it was because I had so many of them in flower in late summer. There are however 3 orchids with flower spikes on their way, so it won’t be too long before I have some flowers again.
Here is my Dendrobium kingianum in flower from March this year, I hope to see it flower again next spring.
The miniature roses I have here are not very happy, despite being in a somewhat colder environment than my living room, I am going to put them outside as soon as Christmas is over and they will both be much happier there.
The Schlumbergera is 2 years old and just a baby, these plants can be well over 100 years old so this tiny tot has a lot of growing up to do.
Most of my orchids are Phalaenopsis, and with none of them in flower right now I just have to show you some I took in my previous house. They will flower again, soon :-)
The tall, spiky plant at the back here is also an orchid, an Oncidium and it is now gracing me with THREE new leaf spikes, hopefully they will all bear flower spikes too.
Last time it flowered was in the summer, and I have to tell you the scent is pretty unusual. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or not – imagine walking into a garage or car mechanic on a hot summer’s day and smell the smell of warm, used gear oil just come out of a car. Never smelled it? Well, that’s how this orchid smells like when the sun is shining on the flowers! It actually took a while before I realised what the smell was when I moved in here because where I lived before this orchid never had direct sun from any window. Here in my new house the sun was streaming in every day when this one was in flower and the scent was extraordinary. Definitely not my favourite scent but it si interesting enough so it gets to stay :-)
The bedroom window is towards the front of the house and I have a view out of the window to my front garden and the car park beyond. In my window I have decorated with a Christmas star.
The living room is towards the back of the house and with a view out onto the garden. I have used the same TV benches here for plants, and one for my TV too. Here I have a mix of more orchids, a huge Spathiphyllum (peace lily), a smaller Spathiphyllum and a few other smaller plants. Just behind the TV is one of the oldest plants I have, it is normally standing on the floor to the right, but because I have a Christmas tree right now I have had to tuck the plant behind the TV.
It is a Dracaena marginata, a dragon tree and it is 14 years old. Whenever it has grown too big and up to the ceiling I just cut it down and it will grow up again. I cut it down in August and you can see it is already shooting again.
I have actually one orchid in flower right now, not a Phalaenopsis, but a Dendrobium nobile, it is lovely and keeps its flowers for many months.
Here is a Phalaenopsis not far from flowering.
Next to my Christmas tree is another 14 year old houseplant, a Ficus robusta. In my old house it grew so big it filled a whole wall in my guest bedroom. It had 3 main branches and some smaller ones and under that very tall ceiling I had there it actually reached all the way up and had one ‘arm’ in each direction reaching the corners of a 3.5m long wall. I had to prop it up with thick bamboo and also support the branches and I could not move it so I never got to vacuum behind the pot! I finally decided some years ago to cut down the whole thing and start again to make it more manageable. The plant did NOTHING for 6 months after having been cut down, then produced quite a lot of very small leaves the next 2 years, but look at it now – it is growing at the speed of light and will soon have to go on the floor as there is no room on the bench for it, the leaves are squashed up against the window. This Ficus robusta has never had any fertiliser and has only had a new pot and compost once in its life. All it gets is water and light.
At this time of year I like to surround myself with light, it gets dark so early and Christmas is a lovely excuse for filling the house with all sorts of lights.
I found these great tea candles online, they are actually battery lamps but look so real so when they are hanging in the window you can’t tell the difference. Much better with battery tea candles though, both safer and no heat.
I have added more light outside too, I have showed you my solar blossom tree before, but this is my plumtree, decorated with 200 fairy lights run on batteries.
Once the lights are switched on they will stay on for 6 hours, than go off for 18 hours and then turn on again for 6 hours and so on. Smart!
I love how the lights add another dimension to my garden.
One more photo, almost completely dark. I chose the plumtree so I could see these lights from where I sit on my sofa in the living room.
Once inside again and with the lights turned down - you can better see the Christmas tree inside, the lights in the window and the plumtree with fairy lights outside. This is the view from the corner of my sofa where I usually sit.
We have already passed the darkest day of the year. Yay! Every day from now on will be a bit longer and I know that once we have passed end of January it will feel like the daylight lasts a lot longer than now. My garden is already in spring modus though so I hope this weather can just continue – it would be a shame if we got a long spell of cold weather and some of this got ruined. The price to pay for continued weather like this is more rain though, possibly a lot more. We are fortunate in London and have no flooding issue, not at my end of London at least.
I better round up this post by wishing you all the best for the Festive Season, whichever way you are celebrating - and I aim to post a new garden movie on the last day of the month as usual so I hope to see you then. Until next time, take care.