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Jo's News and Views No1 January 2024

Hello Everyone 


Well, I am sure we have all been talking about the weather this month and including the names of the storms into our conversations is becoming second nature. My theory is that they name the storms so we don't find them so frightening or annoying. After all who can be cross for long with Henk, Isha and Jocelyn? They are just naughty children behaving badly, albeit very badly! Luckily, yet again, our south east corner of the country has escaped quite lightly, with trees and fences being the main casualties. 


However, I am pleased to say the garden is flourishing and looking beautiful. On the last Saturday in January I arrived early to help with the Snowdrop Sale so I had time for a walk around the garden. The frost had not had time to melt so the Front Lawn was still white, photo 1. In the border at the back are some lovely Camellias which all flower at different times so there is a succession of colour. At the moment Camellia 'J C Williams' is in bloom, photo 2, and the flowers are a very pretty pink, photo 3. Behind them again under the giant Redwood tree is a smaller shrub called Melicytus crassifolius, sometimes called thick leaved porcupine plant, because the leaves are sometimes spiny and prickly, photo 4. It looks inconspicuous until you are quite close to it and then you can see the hundreds of berries covering the branches, photo 5. 


Leaving the Front Lawn and making my way along the path I realised the spell of milder weather had allowed the snowdrops to shoot up everywhere around the garden. The area under the Parrotia persica will be a sea of white in a few weeks time, photo 6. In the Rock Garden the snowdrops are appearing everywhere, photo 7. Also here was this Petasites fragrans, a Winter heliotrope, photo 8 and there were Hellebores here too, photo 9. In fact everywhere you looked there were snowdrops appearing, photo 10. It seems a very good year for them. 


In between the Front lawn and Bowling Green lawn was this splendid clump of grasses, photo 11. I think they are Miscanthus sinensis but not sure which variety. In the Asylum the Corylus avellana 'Contorta' or Corkscrew Hazel caught my eye, photo 12. Without leaves you can see every twist and turn of the branches, photo 13. Crazy in many ways so no wonder it was assigned to the Asylum!


In the Glasshouses there was much to admire. This Tradescantia zebrina 'Purpusii was catching the sunlight through the window, photo 14. This little Begonia sizemoreae almost defies description. The surface of the deeply crinkled leaves are covered with long scattered white hairs and it has tiny flowers in two shades of pink, photo 15. Quite extraordinary for a plant so small. I am sure the Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus is very familiar to us all, photo 16. Then finally I noticed that the Aristolochia grandiflora, the Dutchman's pipe vine had been pruned, photo 17. Do not worry, I know that it will bounce back and cover the glass roof completely by summer. 


Walking around the pond I stopped to enjoy the Chimonanthus praecox or Wintersweet, photo 18. You could be forgiven for overlooking this shrub but it is well worth stopping to admire it as the flowers are exquisite and very fragrant, photo 19. Then the Pond itself. The light was perfect and the colours around the pond showed up really well and I never tire of seeing the reflection of the house in the water, photo 20. 


So now I have a small selection of fauna for you. First of all a pair of Mallards by the pond, photo 21. Then on the front of the house a Robin was busy looking for insects, photo 22. I am happy to say it found one but moved just as I pressed the button on the camera, photo 23! Finally in the yard at the back of the house I noticed a small bird at the bottom of the hedge, photo 24. It was a Dunnock scuffing up the debris to find something to eat, photo 25. This little bird may seem drab in comparison to Blue Tits and Goldfinches but as you can see in the photos it may have a dull grey head but it's chestnut feathers are beautiful. 


I hope you have enjoyed this wander around the garden with me. 


Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2024 



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