Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Winter flowers in my garden

Still quite a show from the gipsy's asters
This winter has been notable for being wet and windy. The jetstream is lower than usual this year and has created some extreme weather.
For north America it has pulled down Arctic air and caused severe snowstorms and temperatures as low as minus 35 deg C when wind chill is taken into account. For the UK, it has pulled a number of Atlantic storms (which would normally have passed to the north of the British Isles) into Britain and Ireland.
Over Christmas and into January, there have been five major storms, with strong winds, heavy rain and (this week) huge waves battering the west coast. There’s a round-up of the story here. Sea arches, stacks and cliffs have been washed away and the Victorian promenade at Aberystwyth in Wales has been severely damaged. There’s lots of flooding across southern and western England – the usual suspects such as the Somerset Levels and around Tewkesbury, but also large areas in Kent and Surrey, and the Thames is now starting to flood in its upper reaches.
In the east, we have been lucky. The storms are generating strong westerly or south-westerly winds which have not been strong enough to cause damage in our part of the world, although they have resulted in unseasonal wet and warm weather. Much of the rain has arrived during the night, so we’ve tended not to feel that it’s been raining excessively, but when you walk out into the fields or on the garden, it definitely shows. The lawn is like a sponge and squelches when you walk on it.
We have had a few frosts, but nothing like the really cold weather of the past two years. This is evident by the range and types of plant that’s currently flowering in my garden on 8 January.
You’d expect the snowdrops to be out (no surprise there then) and they are just coming into flower with clear white buds; also the hellebores (Lentern rose) is out under the trees at the bottom. Wallflowers that I planted from pot-grown in early November are now starting to come into flower and I also have primulas and little blue flowers on the vinca.
What I hadn’t expected was that the aster that Margaret bought from the gipsy in the summer is still a mass of flowers, even saying it’s in a sunny spot at the front of the house, I’m surprised it has done so well. Even more surprising is that several lobelia plants have survived the frosts and are actually flowering. Not many flowers, but there are five plants with blue and white flowers on. I haven’t the heart to pull them up.
Brachysome, a plant with feathery green leaves and blue, daisy-like flowers, has survived in planters and still has a few flowers hanging on.
Finally, I have night-scented stock which self-seeded during the summer, germinated in early autumn and are flowering. I haven’t detected any scent, they’re probably too busy shivering to bother about how they smell.

I’ve also had nasturtiums self-seeding and germinating in sheltered spots and some cornflowers have also formed a large clump of self-seeded plants. If they survive the cold still to come (which they could) they’ll be a really early spring show.