Six on Saturday – 2/2/2019


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.


37 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 2/2/2019

  1. I’m rather worried about my front garden clematis. I did detect some buds a couple of weeks ago but I can’t see them now. Anyway, we enjoyed Cornwall this week – with or without the rain!


    1. Did you visit any gardens in Cornwall? I’ve just chopped back that clematis. Prune before growth starts in early spring said the book. I had 8 inch growths and early spring is not what I think of at the beginning of Feb.


      1. No, I went to The Eden Project last June and enjoyed wandering around with my daughter-in-law but I wouldn’t go back. We were only there for three nights last week and didn’t expect to do any “sightseeing”. We hope to go again in June so I will probably investigate where to visit then.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a gorgeous Fuchsia! This one with this blue pollen is amazing …
    My clematis are not so advanced and the cold snap we have has slowed their growth. Definitely, Cornwall is one step ahead of here.


    1. The palm will be fine, indeed the snow is gone and the palm is perky. The thing about the British obsession with the weather is that they have much less to obsessed about than most of the rest of the world, other than that we rarely get two days the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the new shoots on the clematis look delicate but shrug off the cold. I have a tree peony with several inches of new growth that does the same. Presumably there would come a point where they did get damaged but it never seems to happen here.

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  3. That fuchsia is very unusual looking. I like the look of the aptly named Avalanche. Looks like you it had much worse down there in Cornwall than we did in this part of Somerset.


    1. The three or four New Zealand fuchsia species are a fairly odd bunch, part of why I like them. We only had about an inch of snow but a few miles away on the moors there was much more, the rain turned to snow quicker on higher ground.


  4. Although that particular yucca is from southeastern North America, many are from interior deserts and very cold climates. Yucca glauca is endemic as far north as Alberta. Yet, people who are not familiar with them are surprised to see pictures of them in snow. There happens to be a variety of dwarf palmetto that is endemic to the very southeastern corner of Oklahoma, and does just as well with the snow as the Mediterranean fan palm. Because California and Hawaii have only one native palm each, Oklahoma has as many native palms as California and Hawaii do.


    1. We were surprised to see cacti growing way up into the Sierra Nevada when we went to visit the redwoods. Presumably they spend the winter under snow higher up. The deserts would be dry and cold though? Or do they get cold nights and comparatively warm days? When you don’t have much experience of succulents and palms in the wild you tend to assume they’re from hot and dry climates, often wrongly.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The weather of the high deserts fluctuates wildly. It can get severely cold at night in winter, and then pleasantly warm during the day. In the summer, it can be dangerously hot during the day, but pleasant at night. Of course, it is not always like that. Hot weather really can last all day and all night for many MANY days. The point is arid air loses heat energy much faster than humid air. There is not much atmospheric insulation. Most of the desert, although cold in winter, does not get much snow. Cacti that live in the desert are remarkably tough to tolerate it.
        However, after all that, I should mention that not all cacti are from desert climates. Many are from chaparral, and some are even tropical. The popular Christmas cactus is an epiphytic cactus that lives in tropical rain forests.
        The desert fan palm, which is the only palm that is native to California, prefers warm and dry weather in summer, with rain in winter only. It used to be more popular in the San Jose region before modern overly irrigated landscaping become the norm. With too much water out of season, they really look sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your Fuchsia perscandens is gorgeous! So exotic looking. I suppose I should cut back my clematis now as they are putting on growth, the thing is I did this last year and didn’t get a single flower on one of them despite lots of growth in the summer.


  6. We’re all obsessed with the weather, Jim. It isn’t just a British thing. Like almost everyone else, I’m admiring the NZ fuchsia, but also the view of your garden from upstairs… very pretty with or without snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I should prune my clems as well. A job for next weekend perhaps. I like getting close to them, see what’s what. I am expecting bigger and better things from them this year. They are in “3rd year, leap” territory.


  8. I am envious that you met Ron Scamp, I spoke to him once on the phone and he seems a great character. The fuchsia looks very similar to F. excorticata, is it? I’m not a fan of snow either, luckily it has missed us (so far), the wicked winds however didn’t!


    1. Ron is a lovely man, deeply knowledgeable but very sensitive to his audience so they never feel overwhelmed or talked down to. The fuchsia is close to excorticata in flower but not in habit, with F. colensoi being the hybrid between the two. We’ve got a plant that is supposed to be excorticata but I think is colensoi, untidy shrub not small tree and too small a leaf. Tricksy little group.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The Fuchsia perscandens do look rather stunning.

    Us Brits are always discussing the weather and it is a constant source of entertainment even here. Although we’ve not had snow we still shiver with you when we turn on the TV and watch… THe Weather!

    I recently discovered a brilliant weather website with satellite and even webcams… sad… I found myself checking it several times a day.

    Liked by 1 person

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