That's enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
3rd December 2023
For weeks now autumn has been dawdling in the garden. Everything the season needed to do has been done, goodbye's have been said but it still hadn't left,
reluctant to let go while there was still a leaf on a tree or some grass stems to rattle.
The final, final curtain call came with the flowering of Hedychium forrestii. I nearly passed by as I walked around with a camera on Thursday.
The Hedychium border has almost finished flowering. The sheaves of astonishing foliage remain. Some cultivars have not yet flowered and they are unlikely to make it.
The stems are still pushing upwards but it's a futile pose, the forecasters have warned that the cold is coming. Some cultivars have flowered but the old stems hang on.
In a warm year they will last right through until June before they fall. The forecast is for a cold night so that seems unlikely this time.
This is the real H. forrestii rather than the hybrid H. 'Helen Dillon' which circulated under the name for many years. I have never flowered it before
so the arrival of blooms moments before an anticipated frost is both timely and poignant.
3rd December 2023
Another first for the year came in the shape of Dahlia purpusii. In this case I was given it in the spring and had a problem working out where it could be planted.
It spent most of the summer growing vigorously in a pot until September when I planted it in front of the house. I think this is the Crug Farm introduction from Colombia
and it is uncertain how hardy it will be.
Autumn ended suddenly on Thursday night with a significant fall of snow. It didn't make a deep, thick carpet with me, although I understand it did in the high ground behind me.
I didn't go up there. A quick trip around the garden was enough to convince me that I didn't need to go out any further.
The Dahlia was bowed but not broken. The flowers had always faced downwards, now the whole plant was doing the same. Although snow fell, I don't think the temperature fell below zero.
The leaves of the Dahlia remained green and the flowers were undamaged. For a brief moment I thought that we might have had a meteorological blip, a tiny speck of grit in the seasonal smoothness.
The self-delusion didn't last long. On Friday night we had a radiation frost that hit hard. The dahlias are black, the Hedychium are black and the bananas are black.
There is no doubt, autumn has left the garden.
3rd December 2023
Temperatures will continue to fall for a while yet. The snow hung around all day on Thursday, but by Friday there were
just some tiny pockets clinging to the shadows. Throughout the garden there are camellias in flower. I don't remember a year when there have been so many
in December. Perhaps I am the cause, I do plant a lot of autumn camellias and they are slowly reaching maturity. However there are a few that seem to be unusually early.
Camellia 'Show Girl' is in flower. For three weeks now I have had one or two flowers dangling foolishly in the sunshine. I have been putting it down to
a puff of reckless enthusiasm. I don't expect to see 'Show Girl' until the solstice at the earliest. One of the joys of the New Year is hunting out the flowers
as they start to open. The first flowers were a month early, and there are a dozen now. This isn't a whim of reckless enthusiasm, this is a piece of gritty determination.
Camellia transnokoensis has joined the parade. The red tipped buds have been a delight for a month, but I don't expect open flowers until the end of January.
I have waited for what feels like an eternity in previous years, watching the plump buds stay closed for weeks through the dark days. This year they have simply opened,
bursting in time to be snowed on.
3rd December 2023
Narcissus 'Rijnvelds Early Sensation'
There was a period, the dull end of autumn, when the garden felt empty and drab. Things were happening, there were details of colour and delight,
but the rain and the leaves were falling. The garden felt stodgy. Autumn has passed and I suppose winter has arrived but that isn't how it feels.
Bulbs have started to push through the ground. I thought that I might mow the meadow for one last time in the week, but when I looked at it carefully, the first
flower bud of Narcissus 'Rijnvelds Early Sensation' is sticking up through the grass. It will open before long. It isn't a daffodil yet but it is the promise of daffodils.
After the greyness of autumn the trees have shaken off their leaves and let the light in. The most striking thing in the garden is the brightness, sparkling in unexpected ways
on tree trunks. This small patch of grass was the most delightful thing in the garden as I walked around. It isn't full of daffodils yet, but it is full of the expectation of daffodils
which is somehow more potent.
Autumn has departed and left the garden glistening in the intangible idea of spring.
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