Thursday, 31 December 2015

Stormy Weather

Storm Frank came roaring in during the night, putting my chances of a much-needed walk on the back-burner. As I start this blog, despite high winds the temperatures are still holding up; precocious flowers should be safe but shallowly-rooted trees may be in danger. The morning has been dry but I expect a bit of a deluge later.

Stinking Hellebore in Daventry town centre.
30 December, 2015

Despite Pelargoniums flowering here and there the plants in my garden are finally bereft of blooms. On the bright side Iris reticulata and some crocuses are pushing through and we may be treated to flowers before long. Elsewhere Stinking Hellebore, Helleborus foetidus, is beginning to bloom and,  
unspectacular though the green, maroon-edged flowers are, they'll be welcome. 

Stinking Hellebore flower in close-up.

As I've mentioned before, this is a plant whose flowers deserve to be examined in close-up. Like the similarly early (but unrelated) Spurge Laurel, the flowers are designed to be insect pollinated. In this weather? Not a chance. At least the Spurge Laurel adds fragrance to its enticements.

It is in these dark days of the year that I very much regret not having a Witch Hazel. My garden is small but could accommodate one without difficulty. These shrubs, species of Hamamelis, have neat foliage which, despite the name, reminds me of alder leaves. Our friend Lynda has just sent us a picture of a lovely specimen currently flowering in her garden.

There are four species of Hamamelis and as native plants they are restricted to Eastern Asia and North America, a distribution suggesting that ice sheets during recent glacial episodes have separated these two areas botanically. The work of plant breeders has brought these genera together to produce some fine hybrids, but I am yet to be convinced that they are more attractive than the species. The odd, spicily scented flowers are available in shades of yellow and rust, with the yellow ones very good with drifts of daffodils. One to purchase in the near future methinks.

As I have completed this blog the storm, with heavy rain, has passed through, leaving everywhere thoroughly soaked. Am I grumbling? When I am tempted to do so I think of the flood-ravaged north of England am silenced.

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