‘The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sear.’
William Cullen Bryant.
I have had a blogging break recently, I have not been away or ill, but I dislike this time of the year in the garden, where all is soggy and dark and dank. We have had frost to blacken the dahlias, endless rain and three storms, Abigail, Barney and Clodagh. We now give them names as they do in the States. This makes them sound rather cosy, as if they were lovable, but naughty children throwing tantrums. In fact they howl round the house, whistling constantly down the chimney and wreaking havoc with the fencing and the climbing roses. Not much keeps me in the house, but constant wind and days that don’t get properly light do. On a recent post, Flighty told us that this November has been the dullest for 60 years.
Friends of wildlife leave seedheads for the birds and small creatures to enjoy in winter. We all hope that these seedheads will be transformed into things of beauty when they are rimed with hoar-frost. This actually happens here, about once every three years, for one day. Meanwhile they look dismal and neglected.
But yesterday was sunny and I decided to look for things to be cheerful about. Inside, I always have loads of Phalaeonopsis orchids in bloom, (seven at the moment and four in bud.) They are cheap as chips, they bloom for weeks and after a short rest, off they go again. They last for years. But more exciting, is the fat bud on my slipper orchid, Paphiopedelum.
Talking about buds, they are swelling, plump and pink, on the lovely Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill,’ on Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis rosea’ and the peerless Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori.’
We have some jolly, cheerful seasonal berries on the holly and also the Cotoneaster horizontalis and the Skimmia.
I don’t like looking at the ‘withered moths’ (as Farrer called them) of last summer’ s flowers. But hydrangeas take on lovely antique shades as they mature.
And it is difficult to remain gloomy when this cheery Welsh Poppy, Meconopsis cambrica looks so fresh and sunny.
The Abutilon megapotamicum growing against the wall is still blooming away, despite the weather, with her yellow petticoats showing flirtatiously from under her red skirts.
By the kitchen door, the hardy Cineraria Pericallis senetti ,which I bought three years ago, is blooming yet again in its pot, and has been doing so for weeks. I never expected it to be frost hardy, last so long and give so much pleasure.
Spring flowers are showing everywhere; the early flowering hellebore I showed a while ago is now taking on pinkish shades as it matures.
In the winter garden, slugs have nibbled Helleborus niger and they are not looking as pristine as they should. Still I am glad to see them.
Those lovely little harbingers of spring; primroses are out.
I showed you my autumn- flowering snowdrop Galanthus ‘Barnes’ last month. It is still going strong. Every year somebody writes to the newspapers , very excitedly to say that they have seen snowdrops in bloom in November or December. Last week there was another of these letters in The Guardian marvelling about the topsy-turvy seasons. Some snowdrops bloom in November and ‘Barnes’ is one of them. I suppose the staff and readers of a metrocentric newpaper like The Guardian, can’t be expected to know this. Anyway, here it is still looking gorgeous.
If you want a snowdrop in bloom for Christmas Day, the aptly named ‘Three Ships’ is the one to go for. In fact it is already flowering. The first flower got attacked by slugs and so it is looking a bit tattered.
I have saved my most exciting flower until the last. Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ is usually in bloom for Christmas. This year the first flowers of this diminutive treasure have opened early. If that’s not a sight to rejoice a gardener’s heart, I don’t know what is.
Recently, Allison at Frogend Dweller Blog did a beautiful post about silhouettes. She is right, of course, admiring the silhouettes of the naked branches and buds is one of the joys of winter.
Even on a dismal, foggy day there are beauties to be seen in the garden such as this spider’s web wrapped round the Cryptomeria japonica like a filigree shawl.
When we actually do get a sunny day at this time of the year, the sunsets are stunning. This was the view from my window yesterday afternoon.
So there we are, this is not a Bloom Day post, it is a ‘Reasons to be Cheerful when the Weather is Awful and the Garden is a Soggy Mess’ post.
I would add hot water, sanitation and lavatory paper, but Cicero couldn’t be expected to know about such modern day necessities. Apart from that he is quite right. And I am very lucky, I do have a large garden and a large library. I have everything I need.
So now I’ m going to see what you have all been writing about whilst I have been feeling fed up, because it is so dismal and I haven’ t finished planting my tulips or done things like tidying up the garden and aerating the lawn. You’ d think the lawn had had enough air; after all it lives outside and it has been very windy.