Rays of hope in the winter garden

Through the gloom of the miserly 6 hours of gardening daylight (not to mention the never ending rain) there shines hope!  Just enough, I think, to propel me damply into February.  first snowdropFor the first snowdrop is here, spotted on the 6th January – a full month ahead of last year.

This is always a major moment in my gardening year – like the first Swift returning.  It signals to me that whatever the extent of my incompetence or neglect, or however much it feels the elements have all unfairly conspired against me, it is going to be OK.  Things are still growing.  My mistakes are of minuscule significance on the scale of things. And, heck, it takes more than a few feet of rain to deter these tough little Galanthus guys.  The flowers aren’t open yet, most are still just pushing their way through – but who cares?  It means life goes on!

There are actually abundant signs of life all over the garden, so it is probably silly to burden the little snowdrop with so much sentimental symbolism.  cyclamenThe cyclamen hederifolium, for example, has been glowing in its slowly expanding clump for many weeks.  As hardy as anything, I would have more by now, had I not managed to plant all my expensive new coums upside down a few years back.  Fortunately, this particular specimen was bought already in flower, so it was somewhat easier to figure out which way was up!

I’ve been far too ashamed to buy any more coums since my debacle. Happily plenty of the seed I have collected over the last few years has germinated, so there are lots of baby cyclamen bulking up in pots.  But I’ll only plant them out once they look big enough to stand up to the thuggish blackbirds and vine weevil they will have to contend with.

Another plant putting on a heroic show is the Christmas box, Sarcococca Confusa. Sarcococca ConfusaI have propagated loads of little plants from this parent shrub and it just takes it all in its stride, smelling heavenly and glowing away.  It is perhaps a little too glowing (a touch of yellow compared to previous years?), which makes me think it will need a good feed come Spring.  I may even plant it into the garden (it lives in a pot at present) and create a little area of shady hedging.

So with spirits soaring after a relatively not-that-wet-or-cold-compared-to-usual Sunday in the garden, I felt justified, nay, compelled to drink wine and order seeds.  Unfortunately in that order.  I now have a LOT of seeds en route to Inverness – but that is another post entirely!


17 thoughts on “Rays of hope in the winter garden

  1. Fortunately, the corms of my cyclamen simply sit on the surface of the soil so I am not which-way-up challenged . . . though I did have that problem when I re-potted a Bleeding Hearts Plant in the autumn and, although there are shoots showing, I have yet to discover how well it has survived my randomness.

    • Plants that can forgive the randomness of being planted upside down should certainly be given extra garden-worthiness credit. I hope the bleeding hearts come up – I think they’re pretty forgiving! I have one or two, I always forget about them as they disappear completely, then they look like these amazing pink triffids as their fronds break the surface.

    • It has been really really wet and windy, but virtually no frost or snow when compared with the last few years. The wind and rain has been damaging to the buildings and roads, but much less so to the garden. I still have a few sad looking Pelargoniums and Fuchias hanging onto life in a couple of sheltered spots! Yet two years ago the garden was frozen and mostly under snow from mid December to mid April, and last year the snow came in November and the temperatures were extremely low, but it was all over by January.

      So, that’s a long winded way of saying yes – it has been mild, but in an apocalyptic kind of way 😉

  2. Don’t mind at all – I have been making a shopping list ready for when you guys open again (February I think?). I have some interesting new shady corners you guys will definitely be able to help me with 😉

    • Many thanks and I love the photos on your blog! As long as the frost does its thing sooner, rather than later, then the check will probably do most of my plants good. It’s a different matter once they start blossoming, of course!

  3. There’s too many good nurseries and plants peoplein the Inverness area – they could do serious damage to your bank account, without meaning too…

    As the snowdrops and hellebores all seem to be eraly this year is there going to be a gap in the planting next month?

    Stunning header btw.

    • My bank account is already seriously damaged and that is just from the seed order. You’re right, there are some terrific nurseries around Inverness, many of whom also visit the farmer’s markets too. I’ve always been seriously impressed at the quality of plants you can pick up at the monthly market in Inverness and Dingwall, for example.

      Agree that both Hellebores and Snowdrops are ahead – I suspect my gap will come later, if all the daffodils and tulips are over too soon. It seems to be ages before the next wave of colour is ready in full.

      Maybe I need to buy more plants… 😉

    • I think it could handle Russia, as long as it is left undisturbed and doesn’t get too hot and dry in summer. I find a shady spot at the bottom of a tree works well. It seems to like moist but not boggy and it has coped with minus 18 and prolonged dense snow cover just fine.

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