Click to enlarge image if needed. Clockwise from top left: Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles', Pulmonaria, Primrose 'Cottage Cream', Galanthus nivalis
It was touch and go whether Blooms Day would be held here at VP Gardens this month owing to the week upon week of frosts with a little snow and the many freezing cold days we've had since the beginning of December. It's officially the coldest start to winter for 30 years, but of course we still have a while to see whether that title will be upheld.
As a consequence all the plants in bud last month have stayed steadfastly so, except for Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'. However, my winter honeysuckle's flowers are so small, they confused my camera and stayed resolutely unfocused in the viewfinder. The same happened with my rosemary (another new bloom this month) and my Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' (in bloom for a whole 8 months so far!). The winter jasmine has retreated to the back fence in a huff and a spiky Berberis (due for removal, so feeling particularly spiteful) stopped me from having a closer look. Another consequence is a number of last month's blooms have shut up shop for the winter. However, I was cheered to see the Cyclamen are putting out new buds after only a couple of days of mild weather.
Not really enough flowers for a slideshow this time, so November/December will continue winking away in my sidebar until I get bored and put something else on there. I've made a collage for you instead this month. You'll see the primroses survived the big freeze - they've been blooming since July now, which is just plain crazy. The Pulmonaria is new this month and serves as a reminder that I must replace it with its blue flowered, spotted leaved cousin as the large plain leaves of my pink one are soooooo boring. Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles' is still cheerfully adorning next door's garage wall. But my favourite prize of all are the first snowdrops - I first spotted a clump of them in bud on Christmas Eve, the earliest I've ever seen them. Now 3 clumps - 2 of single and one of double, are just peeping bravely above the ground and can be judged as being in flower. These and the first daffodil spikes (about 3 weeks later than usual) give real hope that winter is being conquered and dear Spring is finally on its way.
Tuesday saw my first casualty of the big freeze. As the ice melted it revealed the birdbath has sprung a leak. At least I have the opportunity to give it a really good clean before getting out the grout to repair it. A bumblebee flew past just as I was making my inspection of the damage - a cheering bit of compensation and at least I had some suitable blooms to offer it sustenance. It must have been a cleaning day at its hive after weeks of being kept indoors.