Welcome to 2021. A better year.

I have already posted one photograph from our granddaughter, Daisy. ‘My Galanthus Garden’ is a gardening blog but given an absence of colour in the garden and a little time before I can post anything worthwhile from our little plot I hope this offering is of interest. Daisy is 12 and seemingly always experimenting in her art. I thought this particularly nice. She has her own Instagram account and her range, development and talent is clear.

Daisy’s Instagram

Hellebore niger ‘Verboom Beauty’ for Christmas

 The weather was perishing cold today yet I can take any low temperature provided the sun is out which it was as we set off for a walk in nearby Nostell Priory. Arriving there and drinking my usual caffe latte outside we had dark clouds and rain. The intended long walk was shorter than intended. Driving back the sun came out. Hellebore niger ‘Verboom Beauty’ graces our porch. It was bred specifically to flower at Christmas and indoors. The cool porch is perfect. So is a plant one may enjoy whatever the weather.

Dodecatheon Meadia

 ‘Shooting Star’ or plain ‘American cowslip’, Dodecatheon Meadia is a captivating plant in our May border. Scale on photographs like this are deceptive, the plant being tiny. It looks like a cyclamen and is a member of the primula family. I have grown some from seed for next year and am looking for some variety in colour. I also have an even smaller alba form, photographed in early April, that appeared by osmosis in the front garden. Delightful plants.

Viburnum x juddii in close-up

 We have two of the sweetest smelling shrubs. The daphne will be in flower next month and as I mark time until the new plants come on stream for more current posts here’s a reminder of March when our viburnum x juddii was streaming scent.

Omphalodes Cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’

 A lovely plant for a shady position today. Omphalodes Cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ was purchased from a plant stall at a local fair and it may not be the named variety. However it flowers in the most shady part of the garden and whereas it perhaps does not have the density of flower it might attain in a more favoured position it does lighten up our side gate area beside a dark purple hellebore and holly bush. Photographed on 3rd April.

Ipheion ‘Jessie’ – March Starflowers

 I can’t claim great success with ipheions in pots. They have grown lush in leaf and flowered erratically. This year I’ve divided them, hardening my heart and discarding the surplus,  and this morning gave the various pots a dose of slow release fertiliser. My favourite is ‘Jessie’ for its deep neo-blue. I don’t like the garlic smell of the leaves though that  is a non-issue for all practical purposes. I’ve laughed at some of the descriptions of the starflowers from sellers; I’ve not noticed any honey fragrance, for instance. However in the depths  of winter the plants throw out the odd flower and can seem truly exotic in that context. When the sun shines and massed blooms appear they are pretty things indeed. Three in close-up: ‘Rolf Fiedler’, ‘Charlotte Bishop’ & ‘Jessie’. Plus ‘Wisley Blue’ in the garden. 

Rosa ‘Birthday Girl’ – Top Performer

 Redesigning the garden has meant sacrificing some roses. However ‘Birthday Girl’ is not one. It has been a magnificent rose, repeat flowering in profusion, fresh and bright. I have read that it makes a good hedging plant: true enough I’m sure but for me it is a feature not a boundary. Standing at a modest 3ft it needs no support and seems disease free. It was bred by that prolific French nursery Meilland and released in 1992. A good, commercial name too for that garden centre birthday gift. I photographed it on 20th May when it first bloomed and it continued to autumn. Meilland has been around since 1850 and bred some mammoth successes – ‘Peace’ (‘Madame A Meilland’), ‘Papa Meilland’. 

Gloriosa ‘Tomas De Bruyne’

Gloriosa ‘Tomas De Bruyne’ has a great name for a plant. Flemish, or northern France. A touch of class. And judging by the image taken on the 26th August it looks sensational. Of course it was an impulse buy, an addition to a more considered order. And I gave it the prime spot in a huge terracotta pot on a south facing wall. When it arrived it was an untidy cigar shape and size, wrapped up in tasteful brown paper. But this, dear reader, was the solitary bloom. I’d been fascinated by the thin leaf that eventually developed a wire-like tentacle to grasp the trellis. And, by gosh, it gets the full treatment in the publicity campaign. It was named after an international floral designer by its Dutch breeder, Van Ruiten. Gloriosa is a form of Colchicaceae, a tender South African lily and I think that’s the problem with my cultivation. Its natural home is a frost free greenhouse and, despite the warmest outdoor position I can offer, it seems not to have been hot enough. And it arrived a little late to get started properly. It has been stored and insulated for the winter and in the new year I’ll get it started early because that first and only bloom was truly breathtaking. A challenge.

Nemesia from self-sown seed

 I bought four nemesia plants four years ago and have been treated to literally hundreds of new plants since then and, strangely enough, there’s been a decent variety of colours, most with that delicious vanilla fragrance that carries in the air. They seed in plant pots and in the cracks between the patio flags. The seedlings are easy to distinguish  from weeds – something I’ve apparently not done with one or two valuable perennials lately. And I like the soft colours. They look great in hanging baskets. The little detail was photographed on the 23rd March. The whole plant had over-wintered. Hardy gems. One of my favourite plants.

Harlow Carr’s Rudbeckia Trial

 My wife’s favourite flower is the Rudbeckia. Well, certainly for autumn though I’ll punt for the dahlia. It cannot be denied that the burst of beaming yellow dominates  the border in September and October. They look sensational. The photographs were taken on 31st August at RHS Harlow Carr from their trial of varieties grown from seed. They intend to leave them to see how many of the annuals survive the winter. Sadly I note that Thompson and Morgan have sold out of their mixed seed. Chiltern Seeds have their own mix however.