Sunday 16 January 2011

16.01. Early arrivals

I have been outside in my garden today too; it’s been a mix of all sorts of weather – even a bit of sunshine, but the rain kept away...only just, I did have a light drizzle a few times. I had a good look around today, to see what’s emerging, and I think most things are fairly early this year, despite the cold period we have had. That’s not necessarily an advantage, as we might very well have another cold spell or two, and small shoots or early flowers might get ruined by the frost. But they do look lovely when they emerge, these early arrivals often bear flowers before the leaves emerge, so the plant can concentrate on only one thing at the time. It is stressful for them doing this at this time of the year you know! Both plants I found in flower today are like that, flowers before leaves, here is the first one, a lovely scented Viburnum
named ‘farreri’.

I can never remember that name, I remember the Viburnum bit; I have several Viburnums in my garden, but for some reason I always remember it as the Ferrari, although I do know that’s not the correct name...but it is a magnificent bush with amazing flowers, just wait until they have come out completely, so to me they could just as well be the Ferrari of the garden :-) Just a shame you can’t smell them here, the scent is absolutely divine, as they often are with winter flowering plants, the reason for that is that there are so few flying insects around to do the pollination at this time of year that the plants really have to work hard to attract them. A strong, sweet scent is the best way to make sure the few insects in the neighbourhood stop by and do their deed.

Here is the other bush in flower, a Chaenomeles. The full name is Chaenomeles x superba 'Crimson and Gold', but you might know this plant as flowering quince. This particular one has bright red flowers followed by small, scented quince-like fruits. I think this plant would have benefitted from a better place in my garden, with more sun, but the competition for getting the sunniest area is fierce and since it also need a place up against a fence I don’t think it will get a better position than this. The Chaenomeles has already been moved once, from a way too dark position in the end bed, where it certainly didn’t thrive, at least here, on the sunny side, it’s got a chance to prosper. But it would probably have grown faster and been much bigger by now if it had been placed up against a south facing wall. Tough, I haven’t got any south facing wall :-)

Here is my garden today, as you can see, the left side of the garden is all cleared of debris and all the plants are pruned. Most of the end bed is cleared too, what’s left is evergreen or cyclamens in flower. But there are lots left; on the right side are many plants to prune and much debris to clear, plus I haven’t even started on the centre bed and all the pots. One job I don’t look forward to is the yearly pruning of the Dregea sinensis, the two plants that cover the arch in the centre of the garden. It grows so profusely that it has to be cut back really hard every winter, and the only time to do it is when the white, sticky sap is fairly down in the roots. I say fairly; it seems that these two plants are never completely dormant, however cold it might be, and the result is that I get covered in that sticky sap on my face, my hair and my clothes. It itches when it hits your skin, so I need to have a wet flannel ready to wash it off there and then. Needless to say, this is a full gloves job, but as I am standing under the arch most of the time whilst pruning, I am right in the firing line for all the bits that are dripping sap after having been cut. Not a nice job! I usually do this over two days, it’s just too much to do in one go, but when it’s finished it really looks neat and tidy and if I didn’t do the pruning, the arch would probably break from the weight after a couple of years. The Dregea has lovely scented flowers from May to October, so it’s well worth the effort, I’ll post a picture of it later this year, when the flowers are emerging.

I better round up this post now, it’s Sunday evening and my son is coming for dinner soon so I need to get started in the kitchen. It seems like the warm weather is going to hold for one more day, so I might get another day in the garden before the rain and the cold sets in again. Till next time, take care.

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