New Years Day saw me emerging from a week of isolation to prevent the family from getting Covid. We succeeded in that mission, and on venturing outside, I was thrilled to find the one and only flower of my pot of Dietes grandiflora hanging on in the cold. Maybe it mistook the Northern Hemisphere for the Southern, but whatever, I was really glad to see it. I saw many different varieties of Dietes in Australia in 2019, and wanted to try them for hardiness in a pot permanently outside. The leaves do a good job on their own, strong, slim and spikey, I like them in a pot. So, maybe next year, the plants will have sorted themselves out to flower earlier than December- but they have been absolutely fine outside, although we have had only small frosts, if at all, so far this winter.
I grew this ‘Salvia spathacea’ from seed several years ago. It is a Californian native from dry woodlands , and, whilst handling full sun pretty well, I can say that semi-shade is what it really likes, and it has romped rhizomatously in the Barn Garden since planting it out last Spring. Already, it’s heading skywards so I hope it makes it, as the tiered flower spikes are spectacular when they happen. Cold doesn’t appear to bother it especially if it can get a little protection from shrub canopy or taller plants.
A slightly odd angle to this photo, but I liked the stray bit of mistletoe that popped into the picture. Mahonia eurybractea ‘Sweet Winter’ is one of the two main, non-prickly, dwarf mahonias available. The other is ‘Soft Caress’ if you are interested. These are great shrubs, fanned, cut leaves make for a dramatic, tropical look, and they don’t get much bigger than Im all round, so can easily slot into any planting to give a jungly green look all year round. The winter flowers are bright yellow and softly scented, not as perfumed as the bigger Mahonias. I have grown to love these shrubs, especially as they took a lot of punishment in our old garden in bakingly dry shade. They like the Barn Garden better and have fattened out a bit, so looking much happier here. A new semi-dwarf variety, blooming from late summer, has appeared this year called ‘Volcano’ with spectacular orange hands of flowersprays, which I am seriously coveting, but isn’t yet widely available in France…..
Mahonia ‘Volcano’…..oh yes. Photo credit http://www.crocus.co.uk
I bought this Hamamelis ‘Orange Beauty’ especially for the Barn Garden last year as a a small plant, and it has not grown much this year, but is flowering well for a small one, and so it is an investment for the future. There’s a lot to be said for growing babies on in my view- you really get to know them well, which I love. It really does look like someone has artfully draped orange peel on bare sticks, such a good colour in the winter.
Another plant with weird timing… this rose, ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’ was covered in 6-8 blooms, a bit washed out with the rain, so I thought the seedhead looked the more interesting of the two. A very happy looking bush I thought, thinking to the future….And just before Covid struck, I madly bought a bare root rose I didn’t know on the strength of an Isabel Bannerman photograph in Gardens Illustrated. ‘La Belle Sultane’ is a beauty and I couldn’t resist, she also survived 2 weeks in the post for various reasons, but is sprouting away in a large pot and seems fine.
Happy New Year to everyone, gardeners and gardens!