Barlow Nurseries

Growers of trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennial garden plants near Newport, Shropshire

Winter, January 2009

You can’t keep a good plant down…

There’s not much going on in the garden at this time of year, and this year even more commentators and journalists seem to have fallen back on the seasonal page filler of “things that were flowering on Christmas day”. Although sometimes entertaining, the lists are not often very useful because they tend to consist of horticultural freaks and aberrations – plants that shouldn’t be flowering, but have for some reason missed the usual seasonal signals to stop, and have just kept going, and going, and going…

Hamamelis Jelena

Hamamelis Jelena

We’d never fall back on such formulaic nonsense of course – and so our list is very short (one!) and is a plant which you can rely on to bring a bit of colour to your winter garden every year, because that’s when it’s supposed to flower.

Our picture was taken in the first week of January, when even we were surprised to look out onto a winter wonderland scene (not quite snow, a very heavy hoar frost) and saw this Hamamelis in full flower. Its flowered for weeks, seems immune to even the minus 10 we’d had the previous night, and is guaranteed to brighten the depths of winter! Sadly, its rather unremarkable for much of the rest of the year, and so tends to get overlooked on the nursery benches during the usual planting seasons, but it’s a cracker right now isn’t it?

In the absence of gardening weather, we’ve been busying ourselves with indoor activities, and have been studying government regulations concerning composting (strange but true – tucked away in the deeper recesses of Brussels and Whitehall there are people making laws about compost). Unfortunately, we didn’t get more than a few sentences into the page before we came across:

(2) An operation does not fall within sub-paragraph (1) if it falls within paragraph (a) of Part B of Section 6.8 of Part 2 of Schedule 1.

At which point we decided to have a cup of coffee, and renew our allegiance to the plain english campaign. And we’ll get back to the regulations another day. Maybe.

We were very saddened to hear of the death of Peter Thompson late last year. Peter’s book Creative Propagation has been a source of reference for us for many years, and his passing is a great loss to gardening and horticulture. Not many of us will be able to make much claim to having left the world a better place than we found it, but the thousands, maybe millions of plants that are now beautifying the planet, and which will have been brought into existence as a result of Peter’s work, are a legacy of which he would surely be very proud.

And finally, a seasonal reminder – other than the lists of plants that didn’t ought to be flowering right now, the gardening media is currently full of stories suggesting that 2009 is going to be the year of “Grow your own”. The triple whammy of credit crunch, an increasing desire to know the provenance of our food, and the need to minimise our food miles is allegedly going to have anyone with a patch of ground raising their own produce this year. So get your seed orders in – there could be shortages! And if you’ve been bitten by the bug and are thinking of including a fruit tree or two, do it NOW! The bare root tree season finishes around the end of March.

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