It has been unusual weather in the northern hemisphere for the last month, whilst parts of America is experiencing very cold temperatures, here in Britain we have had one winter storm after the other with relentless rain, wind and subsequent flooding. Info from the MetOffice shows that it was the windiest December on records since 1969, the warmest December since 1988 and the south and south-east, and also the far north were much wetter than average with over twice the average rainfall in some places. 8 people have died so far as a result of flooding and the bad weather. Whilst rain, wind and flooding have made havoc and disaster for many people up and down the country, my garden has survived well and not experienced any major damage so far.
My garden has a lot of evergreen plants and there are still plants in flower here and there. The mild weather has meant that there has not yet been any overnight frost and many spring plants have decided to get started early. We have another 3 months to go before we are completely free from risk of frost, but for every week that goes without frost the spring bulbs peek a little bit further out of ground looking for some bleak winter sunshine.
My patio area has a mix of pots and containers, this is the sunniest area so I try to stack as much as possible here at the moment. Many of these pots will end up in the flower beds later on in the summer, when the spring bulbs have gone and left an empty gap.
My nursery shelf is bursting, all the plants are doing well so far and nothing have died yet. This is my 15th winter here in London and many of them have been frost-free, I would not mind this one being yet another!
The tender trailing fuchsias I bought last spring are still very much alive, thanks to the mild weather – and still producing new flowers.
I also bought 10 tender geraniums last spring and expected them to die down last autumn. They haven’t died, in fact they are very much alive and are now producing new shoots. Will I be able to keep them through the winter outside?
My biggest purchase last year was the Magnolia soulangeana 'Heaven Scent', and when the leaves dropped about a month ago it revealed around 30 flower buds. Can’t wait to see the magnolia in flower for the first time – in about 3 or 4 months.
Last autumn I bought my first Daphne, this is Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' and I have wanted one for ages! They are quite expensive but I got this one for half price. It is evergreen, but has dropped almost all the leaves. Not sure why, but there are signs of new leaves developing so I hope it will recover again. I can’t wait for the flowers to open up, the scent is supposed to be intoxicating.
The daffodils are on their way, this is Narcissus 'Hawera'.
In December 2012 I bought a Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom', an evergreen clematis that flowers in February/March. This is a photo from May 2013 and it grew at an astonishing rate.
Just look at it now, one year later! Where should I let it grow now, if it will continue to grow that much each year?! This clematis was supposed to grow up a west or south facing wall, which I don’t have so I put it the only place I had available – a north facing wall, and hoped for the best.
It seems it is doing OK here, it is covered in buds and I can’t wait to see and smell the flowers in a month or two!
My giant teacups with Iris reticulata 'Harmony' and 'Pixie' are still doing well, the spikes of green are bringing hope of flowers in a month or so if this weather continues.
There are more Iris reticulata down on the ground in pots and they are also on their way up. The long ‘grass’ hanging over the pots is Iris hollandica, they started coming out of the ground in November but won’t flower until April or so.
Iris reticulate close-up.
And there are even a few Anemone Blanda out of the ground.
The first alliums are out of the ground.
And the hyacinths are on their way too.
More daffodils, this is a later variety, Narcissus 'Golden Ducat'.
And this is Narcissus Jonquilla.
There are crocuses peeping out of the ground everywhere, not long before these are in flower!
And even the tulips are on their way, Tulipa 'Albert Heijn'.
Most of the roses blew away over Christmas in the strong winds, but new buds are forming. This is 'Freedom'.
I normally cut my clematises down in February, but this year I have had to do it a month early as they are already forming new leaves. This is ‘Niobe’.
And my camellia is bursting with buds, mine is a late flowering and usually doesn’t flower until March or even later.
I bought Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' in February 2012, it came with a few buds and most of them fell off so all I got was one flower. Last year it didn’t flower at all it just grew and grew and by now it has tripled in size.
I am so pleased to see it covered in buds and it seems to be ready to flower in matter of weeks.
And finally, some snowdrops. They are spread in groups all over my garden but I have only had them for a couple of years so they still need time to multiply.
Soon they will all be in flower, can’t wait!
How has the winter weather affected your garden? Do you have spring like weather or arctic temperatures? It was 12 degrees C (53F) in my garden today and a brief let-up in the rain, but as I am sitting here tonight writing this, the rain is bucketing down again. Next week we are promised dryer weather, as in ‘not rain every day’ at least. Let’s hope so, I am fed up of watching my garden from my kitchen window while it rains, I just want to get out there. Until next time, take care.