Snowdrop fever

As Anna writes in the latest Newsletter, January and February are the months for snowdrops.

Galanthus nivalis - common snowdrop
Galanthus nivalis – common snowdrop

Joe Sharman, the owner of Monksilver Nursery and who has come to be known as ‘Mr. Snowdrop’ has produced a variety called ‘Golden Tears’, described as ‘A narrow-flowered yellow pterugiform with a very large mark and bright yellow ovary. Very beautiful and distinct.’ The bulb apparently sold for £1,850.

A few years ago, I visited the Snowdrop Sensation weekend at Great Comp where a number of specialist snowdrop growers had stands. Some very beautiful varieties were selling for £100/£100 a bulb. I thought this a bit of a stretch and compromised, buying one for £10.00. I have watched this like a hawk each year, willing it to grow. There would be a great many tears and gnashing of teeth if I bought a more expensive bulb and lost it. I cannot imagine what one would do with a bulb worth £1,850.

Vija

OPG diary – January 2021

4 January
While taking down the Christmas wreaths, we spotted all these in flower in the garden. The Sarcoccca (sweet box, bottom left corner) smells wonderful.

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19 January
Doing a weekly check in, here is the most beautiful Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis, in the Sensory Garden. Not a rose at all, it is a member of the buttercup family.

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26 January
Another check in visit, snow still lying on the ground today, there are surprising frost pockets in this garden, although it is all clear by the walls.

Snow in the Old Pond Garden, Charlton House, January 2021
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Foxy footprints giving away the culprit! Our teasels have all been teased to bits, we wish Mr Fox would just go back to chewing the plant labels..

New Year’s Resolutions

I hadn’t really thought about a New Year’s resolution for 2021, apart from the one that most of us have in the forefront of our minds at the moment: test negative, stay positive. (Sent to me in a Christmas card by a friend). But as we get closer to the end of January, to move forward into the year without one seems a bit neglectful.

I was therefore interested to read about the drive to encourage people to save seed and to encourage seed saving communities to develop. One of the few upsides of the lockdowns over the past year has been a huge boost in demand for seed. The argument is that this “grow your own” revolution re-diversifies seed crops and provides more security for not only our seed supplies, but food in general.

Josie Cowgill, one of the women who works with the Stroud Community Seed Bank in Gloucestershire sums up the impact of seed-saving in the context of 2020: “It’s difficult times we are living in. We have got a pandemic, we’ve got climate change, we’ve got biodiversity loss, habitat loss and economic collapse as well. It might feel quite small, just saving beans and growing your own food, but actually I think it is really fundamental. By doing something infinitesimally small like this tiny little gesture in a tiny little group, in a tiny little country somewhere, you are working towards something that makes you feel more hopeful. It’s a positive step. I’m not saying this is a magic wand or a cure-all, but it’s a positive step.”

Former ‘Bake Off’ winner Nancy Birtwhistle claims we have been ‘brainwashed’ into believing we need harsh chemicals to clean our homes. In an interview with her, what caught my attention was the amount of plant-based materials she used. It sounds miraculous, but she swears by ivy as a laundry detergent (about 60g, cut up and put in a muslin bag, then put in the drum). “It excites me so much; my husband thinks I’m crackers. I knew in the depths of my memory something about ivy and saponin [a natural foaming detergent], so I Googled it. Conkers have it as well.” (Although we should remember that ivy can be a skin irritant for some people.) In the autumn, she collects conkers and boils them up to create a creamy laundry liquid. (Nancy Birtwhistle’s book Clean & Green is published on 21 January by Pan Macmillan £12.99).I’m prepared to give this one a try, but have visions of a ‘green’ wash in a way I did not intend.

Food for thought.

Vija

Members’ gardens, January 2021

Winter aconites and snowdrops looking happy in Vija’s garden. (For once, an example of some flowers that are blooming at the right time of year!)

Something to look forward to: Jillian has lots of babies off her Billbergia nutans, which she has potted up for sale to members, for when we can finally meet again. It’s common name is Queen’s Tears or Friendship Plant. She thinks the small plants should be big enough to flower this year. This isn’t a picture of her own plant, but something to aspire to! A challenge..

Some unusual flowers out in Angela’s garden – here is a Penstemon thinking it’s still summer, and the Anisodontea, African Mallow, has ignored the recent frosts and carried on.

Maggie has been out and about on her daily walks, and says that the daffodils down near the O2 are all coming out. A lovely sign of Spring, and a good walk along the Thames side.

The photo below might remind us all to ensure there are gaps under the fences in our gardens. There is a trend to use concrete gravel boards at the base of new fences, and while they are wonderfully sturdy and long-lasting, spare a thought for the wildlife! Frogs and toads need to travel between gardens and water sources. It’s really easy to push a trowel under the gravel board and make a little underpass for them, it makes all the difference.

Happy Dahlias, in bed for the winter, covered with a lovely blanket of Christmas tree branches!

What’s in flower in YOUR garden? All these in Kathy’s garden on January 3rd 2021, they don’t seem to know it’s winter. Although it’s a bit tatty, there is even a blue Lobelia flower, what’s that about? If you have more, send them in to feature here.

Clockwise from top left: Hellebore, Mexican fleabane, Cobea Cup & Saucer, Clematis Wisley Cream, Bergenia, Geranium “Pino”, Rose Bonica, Fuchsia Hawshead, Geranium Regal
Salvias: Neon, Black & Blue, Tangerine, Hotlips, Pineapple and Amistad
Teucrium, Wallflower, Parahebe, Lobelia and Primrose

What’s in flower in your garden? January 2017

Well we had an amazing response to this, so many people brought in a flowering sprig that we almost ran out of space on the piano! What you can’t tell from the picture below is the SCENT, it was lovely. I rather think we have better flowers than the Chelsea Physic Garden :-).

january flowers 1