Celebrating the Vernal Equinox with ‘Christmas Cheer’

So it’s official, it’s the first day of spring.  Winter is off with his tail between his legs, ‘the lark’s on his wing, the snail’s on the thorn’ and according to Shakespeare, birds are singing: ‘Hey ring a ding, ding’. The little lambs are frolicking in the field and gardeners are frolicking in their gardens and if you listen carefully they are probably singing ‘Hey ring a ding, ding’ too. This wonderful time of the year is a joyful time for everyone, but specially gardeners. The garden feels like a huge, green jewel box spilling out ever more sparkling gems.

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I am celebrating the first day of spring rather inappropriately with some ‘Christmas Cheer’.

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’

This lovely rhododendron is peculiarly named as it usually blooms in March. It is the earliest blooming one I have but I don’t have very many. My soil isn’t acid enough, (i.e. below PH7) so all my rhododendrons have to live in pots in ericaceous compost. This one is particularly suited to a pot as it is quite compact and has a nice dome shape. It is slow growing and doesn’t get more than 4ft. I often wondered why it is called ‘Christmas Cheer’ when it blooms in spring. Apparently for the rich with heated glass houses it used to be forced for Christmas flower arrangements. The buds are perfectly frost hardy but once the flowers open they have to be protected, but then magnolia flowers have the same problem. This year they have been spared so far. I love its pink frothiness. The flowers are frilly and get whiter with age but at this stage they look as if they have raspberry juice swirled into them. When I was six I longed for a party dress in this colour. These days I have no desire to wear pink frills but I still enjoy them in in my spring flowers.

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’

I hope you enjoy every minute of the new season in your lovely gardens.

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40 Responses to Celebrating the Vernal Equinox with ‘Christmas Cheer’

  1. bcparkison says:

    Mentone Alabama USA has a Rhododendron Festival every Spring. They are beautiful all over the mountain. Your garden is so lovely

  2. That is a great rhododendron and growing in a pot. You have a good description of Spring and I can’t stop looking out of my windows and walking my yard.

  3. susurrus says:

    I wonder if it flowers around Christmas in another part of the world? Happy Spring equinox!

  4. hb says:

    That is a gorgeous Rhody. Thank you for sharing it as a symbol of the new season.

    • Chloris says:

      It just caught my eye when I went into the garden on the first day of spring and it struck me as odd to be enjoying something called ‘Christmas Cheer’ now that spring has finally arrived.

  5. Tina says:

    Happy Vernal Equinox! Thank you for sharing your gorgeous Rhododendrons! The ‘Christmas Cheer’ is a stunner.

  6. Heyjude says:

    Yay! Spring has sprung! A quiet day here, if somewhat cloudy, but mild. And NO wind. Every day there is something new to see in the garden isn’t there? A bud here, a flower there, the blackthorn flowering in the Cornish walls. Your rhodie does look pretty, but I’m afraid that is one plant I don’t particularly care for. Azaleas, yes, but I find rhodies a bit gloomy. Must be the dark leaves.
    Anyway Happy Vernal Equinox! Let the party begin 🎈🎂🎉🍸

    • Chloris says:

      I know what you mean about rhoddies but this one is so smothered in bloom you can’t see the gloomy leaves. And if I lived in Cornwall I should certainly want to grow one of the more tender scented ones. Have you sniffed ‘Lady Alice Fitzwilliam’? It smells divine.
      Yes, let’s party, happy spring Jude.😁

      • Heyjude says:

        Looked her up and she does look very pretty. I recall a white one at Glendurgan which was highly scented too. My garden is too small for them and I always kill azaleas!

  7. Christina says:

    It’s not very spring like here. Still a biting cold wind. I’m hoping it will warm up soon.

  8. Kris P says:

    I DO love Rhododendrons, another on the long list of plants I’m unable to grow in my climate, although I did ignore local guidance and try once anyway. It’s safe to say that spring is well underway here, although we have another slim chance of rain today. Rain = winter in our standard playbook.

    • Chloris says:

      I always believe in trying plants I am not supposed to grow and killing them two or three times until I am convinced. I can’t grow rhodendrons in my soil and yet having said that, somebody close by has planted some in her garden and to my astonishment so far they are flourishing. They are not supposed to do that. I am waiting with bated breath for the leaves to turn yellow and for them to die. But so far they ignore all my warnings.

  9. Yes, interesting name for that Rhododendron, but it sure is a pretty one! Happy spring!

  10. Eliza Waters says:

    Your garden looks so wonderful! I’m still waiting for mine to emerge from the snow.

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    A very uplifting, full of the joys, spring like post.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Brian, spring certainly rasises the spirits. We gardeners know that we have months of pleasure and delights to look forward to. I feel sorry for people who don’t have this interest.

  12. That’s beautiful. You have reminded me to visit Scotney Castle, which has a wonderful selection of rhodos and azaleas. I don’t grow any at home so it is lovely to appreciate them elsewhere.

    • Chloris says:

      Scotney Castle is dreamy, how wonderful to live so close to so many amazing gardens. I just have a few rhoddies in pots. I would love to be able to grow some of the fragrant ones.

  13. Oh I didn’t realise that you had such a fabulous wall in your garden! Thank you for the celebratory slideshow and seasonal musings. Happy spring Chloris 😃

    • Chloris says:

      I have a bit of an old wall, I always longed for a walled garden but I only have this bit and it looked as if it might fall down so it has brick buttresses the other side. Still I am grateful for it and it is a great place to show off my spider web gate. Happy spring Anna x

  14. Island Time says:

    Lovely post to celebrate the end of winter and the first day of spring. Nice slide show! And lovely bit of Christmas Cheer! Thank you!

  15. Not sure about all the frolics Chloris but it is wonderful to hear officially that Spring has sprung. I love the planting around your wall. very atmospheric.

  16. tonytomeo says:

    Hey, we used to grow ‘Christmas Cheer’! We sort of wondered about the name too, and sort of figured that it bloomed at Christmas time in some other region. This was not a good cultivar for our region, and figured that like so many, it was better suited to the Pacific Northwest or New England, rather than the Central Coast of California.

  17. Cathy says:

    I was ‘surprised’ to see the wall too as I didn’t think I had noticed one – your garden didn’t feel as if it had any boundaries at all! A walled garden would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? Of course I could build one… Lovely to see your pretty Christmas Cheer, whenever it flowers – i have Cheers which people have suggested is the same thing and mine flowers any time from November to late spring. No buds this year though, probaby from being too dry last summer

    • Chloris says:

      It’s difficult to take in a garden with one viewing. The part of the wall with the Crown Imperials has the greenhouse the other side. My DiL has promised to paint a garden plan for me and I am loking forward to this. I love garden plans.

      • Cathy says:

        As I wrote the comment, I was visualising it there so clearly had noticed it without it registering. Intriguingly, after I wrote the comment the Golfer noticed 3 or 4 buds bursting on Cheers, so it is going to flower after all, albeit minimaly

  18. bittster says:

    Ugh. I see all those blooms yet here we have another dusting of snow and most of the daffodils haven’t even begun to poke out of the soil.
    The sun is stronger though, and I’m sure we’ll join you soon.
    Your garden looks expansive in this post, and filled with wonderful things as usual. I hope your diL gets that plan drawn, I’d be interested to see how it matches up with my own impression!

  19. snowbird says:

    I am frolicking around my garden too and just loving seeing it burst into life, spring has certainly come early around here. That is a stunning rhoddo. I loved your slide show too, so many jewels!xxx

  20. That’s a gorgeous rhododendron. But the snails on its thorn? That sounds uncomfortable. Haven’t done much garden frolicking as yet – but soon.

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