It rained steadily all day Thursday, turning to snow in late afternoon. Any salt applied to the roads had been washed away so the snow settled and as the temperature dropped, froze, along with the slushy stuff underneath. Result, an inch or less of snow and impassable roads. I was very glad I didn’t have to go anywhere.
For a few days we’ve been between -2°C and 5°C. Between America and its polar vortex and Australia with its tumbling temperature records it’s hard to know whether we’re cold or hot. Yet such is the obsession of the British with the weather that it is of course headline news everywhere you look.
I tucked up my camellias again, as I had a month ago, and was relieved to find unfrozen pots this morning. Still another couple of months before I can let my guard down.
I don’t like snow though I will grudgingly concede that it can be very beautiful. In the garden it seems most striking, or incongruous, on the exotic looking plants. Chamaerops and Yucca look like they evolved for a hot climate and it seems odd, and slightly concerning, to see them carrying snow.
Talking of Camellias; this, not for the first time, is C. ‘Koto-no-kaori’. It is blooming quite freely and the frost we’ve had will have been enough to largely destroy the flowers. Last weekend we had a couple of days of cold but not freezing northerlies and that was enough to destroy most camellia blooms exposed to it. This plant was well sheltered from it. For several years I kept this plant in a pot and overwintered it in my polytunnel. Given just a little protection it starts into growth too early for this country, in January or February. It looks like it might be better behaved outdoors. The mature top growth is hardy but the new growth is quite vulnerable. Now that it is in the ground I have no fear that its roots will freeze, which would be a death sentence.
The buds just at the point of opening may well be damaged as much as the open blooms but there are lots less well developed so flowering will resume after a short intermission.
Fuchsia perscandens likes to flower midwinter too and like the camellias, can survive only a very light frost. This flower was on a young pot grown plant tucked in beside the greenhouse wall. It’s another of the New Zealand species with blue pollen.
Another thing that seems to getting well ahead of itself is clematis. This is one of the late flowering viticellas, ‘Etoile Violette’ maybe, that has shoots more than six inches long already. I need to get it pruned, down to a foot or two from the ground.
It’s also nearly time to cut down all my Haknonechloas. A week ago I was poised to do a blog about the Hak macs, heaping praise on the ones that were still looking good this deep into the winter. Last weekends gales put paid to that, flattening my best clump. Still, late January is not at all bad. The views are of it yesterday and a week ago, with the close-up taken yesterday. It looks better when the leaves are wet; they are brighter and not folded in on themselves. ‘Mediovariegata’, ‘Albostriata’ and ‘Samurai’ are the best varieties for colour and longevity in winter.
Ron Scamp gave a talk at my garden club in the autumn, bringing with him various bulbs to part us from our cash. This is ‘Avalanche’, a tazetta which I potted so we could enjoy the scent in the conservatory. Even this single small bloom is powerfully pungent and I’m not expecting approval from Sue.
I was hoping the snow would have thawed by this morning but we’ve had a dusting more. Nice and sunny though, which lifts the spirits if not the temperature. The SoS posts without snow will be the stand-outs this week. You’ll find the links here.