It’s All Going Swimmingly – A Look Back at the Week in the Garden.

Waterford, south-east Ireland, 19th December 2020

There are times of the year when the gardener has to search for the beauty in the garden. As it says in the song:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

I associate it with Bing Crosby though he wasn’t the first to record the song, written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and nominated for the “Academy Award for Best Original Song” in 1945 as it was used in the film Here Come the Waves. (These snippets gleaned from Wikipedia and no credit to my memory!)

It was challenging to accentuate the positive this past week as any outing to the garden meant sploshing about in water and leaving muddy footprints on the grass. My only active gardening was lifting some leeks to make a pot of Leek and Potato Soup – and it was delicious, served with home-made bread rolls. An outing in midweek, to take some photographs, had me donning full raingear, yellow oilskin jacket, wellington boots and pull-up waterproof trousers. It was all to catch the snowdrops which had opened on the one mild day of the week and it was worth it!

So, let’s start with this week’s photographic review of the garden. This first group is what I call “Things I didn’t expect to see at this time of the year”, little odds and ends performing a little out of season, not at the best time of the year for them but good to see, for anything that brings even an occasional bright spot to the garden is most welcome. As might be expected, there is a not-unexpected sprinkle of primulas but, along with a few others, it is surprising to find a Brugmansia sanguinea still producing flowers outdoors in December and a kniphofia flower in good condition – though I have another kniphofia, a green-flowered cultivar, which flowers at Christmas each year and has about twenty flowers coming along nicely at the moment.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

We are fortunate here that frosts are generally uncommon and mild with us but some plants do require winter protection, among them Mary’s succulents. I must admit that I do little with these during the year except give Mary some help with lifting the heavier pots into the glasshouse for the winter and out again when weather permits. The glasshouse are unheated and we throw some horticultural material, Mypex, over the plants if a cold night is forecast. We have paraffin heaters but rarely use them – not at all last winter – being happy to simply keep the plants frost free.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

When plant and colour interest in the garden is scarce we notice things which might not catch our eye at busier times of the year. I’m not sufficiently well-informed to identify the various growths we find on our garden trees but I do find the both interesting and beautiful. Here is a selection of mosses and lichens.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

Obviously, pots are used to hold plants but they have value in their own right also, purely as garden ornaments, points of interest and focal points. I am more inclined to choose plants which continue to give some interest or structure all year round while Mary is more attuned to ringing in the changes of the seasons and it is she who plans and plants up the pots of spring bulbs and the likes – my contribution being to help with moving them about.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

The first of the witch-hazels has come into flower. They are always a very welcome sight here, as any shrub which flowers in mid-winter would be. We bought this as Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’, a shrub with very pale yellow flowers, but this is not ‘Pallida’ and more likely simply, Hamamelis x intermedia. Nonetheless, it is an attractive shrub and has flowered faithfully for over 25 years so it would be churlish to complain too much; better to enjoy what we have.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

Finally, the snowdrops! A mild day during the week allowed the flowers to open and show themselves off well. We’ve had lots and lots of rain and some milder days and these conditions have brought more and more snowdrops into growth. Most are only snouts peeping above the ground at the moment but they promise a good display in due course. In the meantime, here are some of the earlier forms in the open garden – a big gallery of images as these are a favourite plant of mine:

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow and view the photographs in a larger format:

I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator” on his blog site. To read more contributions to the Six on Saturday theme go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!

This is the last of the Six-on Saturday posts before Christmas so I’ll take the opportunity to wish all contributors and readers a Very Happy Christmas. I hope you all keep well and remain safe and healthy. Best wishes, Paddy

38 thoughts on “It’s All Going Swimmingly – A Look Back at the Week in the Garden.

  1. Garden is looking well even in D ecember. We have a pink Viburnum out at the moment as well as Primroses. Jeffrey moves all my pots around for me. I notice Snowdrops and small daffodils coming up despite the garden be I g like a swamp. I have large order of tulips arriving next week. A special offer of 150which I couldn’t resist. Don’t know when they will get planted. Also we think we have two squirrels in the roof space at present. Jeffrey saw them club.bing the wall at the side of the house and disappearing through a hole in the barge board which starlings had excavated when nesting. Great fun.I hope you all have a good Christmas and stay well and safe. Hilary and Jeffrey.

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    1. It’s a great soup as it requires no odd or unusual ingredients. We grow our own leeks but not winter potatoes, these we buy in the shop. How long? 40 years or so!

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  2. You’re right about noticing the little things in winter. Last year I posted every day from November to end of February on the #shortdayschallenge. Remarkably, there is still lots happening.
    Your selection and placing of pots is go h-álainn ar fad.

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  3. This is a Christmas stocking full of treats Paddy. I’m particularly keen on the snowdrops of course but also love Mary’s succulent collection and those lovely lichens. Happy Christmas to you and Mary.

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  4. Well it was worth getting out the waterproofs to photograph all those. I enjoyed seeing the snowdrops as I don’t have the fancier varieties myself, and I do like to see the witch hazel, which is another plant I don’t seem to have!

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    1. I don’t have many of the fancier snowdrop varieties either, preferring the old reliable ones. The price of the latest-named snowdrops is really prohibitive, beyond any sense of their value, and I restrict my acquisitions to those I receive in exchange with other enthusiasts.

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  5. Fantastic photos – great collection of witch hazels. It seems there are a lot of things still in flower/ coming into flower that you wouldn’t expect at this time of year. I walked past a neighbour’s garden with Cerinthe in flower today – surely too early/ late. Now tell me, how do you ensure your snowdrop collection remains separate so they don’t cross pollinate? Are they all well spaced out and labelled?

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    1. Labelling is very important for me – because I have a dreadful memory and with so many different snowdrop varieties I’d be sure to mix them up or forget about them. I also keep a note in a notebook or on the laptop. Generally, I remove the seedpods when they have formed to prevent seedlings appearing. Some will always escape and there will be seedlings which I rogue out when spotted. Sometimes I grow from seed, from ones I particularly like, and hope for something interesting. I also propagate by chipping bulbs – those which I wish to increase a little quicker.

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  6. Thank for donning what sounds more like fishing gear to capture your delightful garden. Those snowdrops are fabulous. A friend gave me a few bulbs a couple of years ago, and I am eager to see what comes up. I think amongst them was Mrs McNamara. You two make a good team, Happy Christmas to both of you.

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  7. So many beautiful photos. I’m particularly taken with the lichens which are like a small foresty world of their own. I didn’t realise snowdrops would come out as early as this. You have an extensive collection of them.

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    1. The lichen are very interesting and attractive but I’m not intrigued to the extent that I want to study and identify the various species, being happy simply to admire them. Yes, snowdrops are coming along well at the present with many more to come.

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  8. So much to see in your lovely garden, even in the rain. I always think dark nights are for putting posts like this together so thank you and a very Happy Christmas to you too.

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  9. Thanks Paddy, how exciting to see your garden alive with flowers even after all the rain and damp. And snowdrops… I always enjoy following your garden as it goes through the galanthus season, your drops are all so nicely clumped up and I far prefer this look to the collections of singletons.
    I can’t imagine a kniphofia for Christmas, and our witch hazels are still fast asleep but our time will come in turn. Have a Merry Christmas!

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    1. Many thanks and all the best to you too. As I write, noon on Christmas Eve, we have a beautifully sunny though very cold morning, the first dry day in ages so I have been out without the waterproofs to take a few photographs. Brrrrrr!

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