Tuesday, 17 December 2013


What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours!

Suddenly the vegetation is cast against a blue background and all is well with the world, the sun is out, has not got his hat on, or has? I can never quite work out that song.

Architectural plants like these heads of cardoons, not cut down because of being dead, come into their own. A little hoar frost would improve them even more.

The garden has grasses to wave in the winter wind - so at this time of year when all might seem dead, it is not. The winter flowering honeysuckle - Lonicera x purpusii, skimmias, sarcococcas and daphne flower and give off scent despite the season. The viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn" can be covered in pink scented blossom.

And other trees and shrubs can light up the garden - white birch and eucalyptus, hollies, cornus and coloured willow stems. I have noticed the first signs of ash blossom (they do flower and how) - still tight but there.

Another statuesque dead plant is the teasel, this one growing up through a cherry to reach eight feet in height.

I have not mentioned heathers because we do not have any - not that we could not grow them but I do not like them much, nor does R.

These leaves are on the Magnolia grandiflora, (the Bull Bay). The undersides are golden brown and are splendid against a blue sky.
No flowers yet though - we may have to wait many years. I keep talking to it and asking it nicely, "What about this year, then?"
So far no sign of a response.

Just opposite the magnolia stands a tall eucryphia, a straight up and down tree. Some of its leaves have turned, some not. It did flower well one year but then not done much the last two summers. Must go and talk to that one too.

Mmm! Now there is a name for a girl, I think, Eucryphia - Teasel would not be too terrible though Cardoon is a non starter.
So many names are from plants, or plant names from us?
Mind you there are some one would avoid - mugwort, bladderwort,   creeping jenny (well, not the creeping bit), stinking cranesbill and so on - plenty to chose from.

Birdsfoot Trefoil (no you could not call her that) is also known as Old Woman's Toe-nails in Devon - can you imagine - "Will you, Old Woman's Toe-nails take him, Old Man's Glass Eye (another name for the scarlet pimpernel in Somerset) to be etc etc.

Ah! the joy of names - Baalam's smite, bladders of lard, bouncing Bess and these are just from the letter B in the index.
Buy a copy - it will need to be second hand but I can recommend The Englishman's Flora by Geoffrey Grigson to you. My copy was published in 1975 - ISBN 0 246 108209 7 - by Hart-Davis MacGibbon Ltd though it first came out in 1958.
You can get a second hand paperback version from Amazon for a penny plus postage.

1 comment:

  1. Never heard "Old Woman's Toenails" for birdsfoot trefoil, which is a weed here.
    I like your cardoon; have left mine standing tall, as well.