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Christmas flowers in London

Over the Christmas holiday we’re staying with my daughter Lizzie in Kingston-upon-Thames, on the southern edge of London not far from Henry the Eighth’s Hampton Court Palace. It’s the place where the Saxon kings of England were crowned, we just walked past the stone on which they were crowned on the way back from dinner this evening. And today I took a short walk.

I walked round the block where Lizzie lives and noted everything in flower in her neighbours' front gardens. It’s an area of semi-detached, brick houses built in the 1890s (duplex town houses to American readers, I think) with tiny front gardens. The number of plants in flower was amazing. Here is the list: Aster novi-belgii cultivar, Brachyglottis (Senecio) ‘Sunshine’, Calendula cv, Campanula poscharskyana, C. portenschlagiana, Centranthus ruber, Choisya ternata, C. ternata ‘Sunrise’, Convolulus sabatius, Cornus alba ’Sibirica’, Corydalis lutea, Cyclamen persicum cv, Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, Escallonia cv, Fuchsia (various bedding types), Hebe (six different), Hypericum ‘Hidcote’, Impatiens cv, Jasminum nudiflorum, Kerria japonica ‘Flore Pleno’, Kniphofia cv, Lamium maculatum, Lobelia (trailing bedding type), Lobularia maritima (Alyssum) cv, Lonicera periclymenum, Mahonia ‘Charity’, Nicotiana alata, Pelargonium ( “geraniums” - more than a dozen different ivy-leaved and zonal types), Primula (five hybrid primroses and polyanthus), Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’, Rosa (seven garden roses of various kinds, including ‘Iceberg’ with leaves, flowers and hips), Solanum laxum (S. jasminoides ‘Album’), Viburnum x bodnantense, Vinca difformis, Viola (many different pansies).

If you count all the different cultivars, it comes to well over sixty – in just three or four hundred yards.

Many were hangovers from summer, a few were spring flowers feeling precocious. The most interesting, in many ways, was the dogwood, Cornussibirica500 Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’. Normally, it’s showing off its naked, bright red stems at this time of year. But it was more or less in full leaf, and in flower, and it also carried a couple of bunches of white berries! Its stems were less bright than usual because they were shaded by all the leaves!

Normally, only about three or four of these would be in flower at the end of December. It’s certainly been a strange season.

Comments

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Justin Evans

Up here in Lancashire I have roses still in flower, one is peace and the other is orange parfume, but in the back garden in a slightly sheltered spot i have a hanging basket with a red pelargonium and blue lobelia still both in full flower! we have not had much of a frost so far this winter but it is very wet,i am going to leave the basket out to see if the plants can make it through.

Graham Rice

It will be interesting to see if your basket makes it right through the winter. I've also recently seen Shasta daisies and Achillea 'The Pearl' in flower, and a lovely specimen of one of the pink flowered summer jasmines, Jasminum beesianum, opening its first flower or two amongst a great cloud of buds poised to follow.

William

One Camellia I have never seen flowering before at this time of the year is Camellia 'Cornish Snow' which has been in full force until a frost a few nights ago in Llanystumdwy.

Graham Rice

There are also surprises in what is not flowering. We have hangovers from the summer and autumn, and spring plants getting ahead of themselves - but no bergenias and hardly any snowdrops or hellebores.

Jane

Here in Stirlingshire there has still not been a proper frost so everything from snapdragons to penstemons are still green - no flowers though - the deer got in and had them for breakfast.
Delighted to see you blogging!
Jane

Justin Evans

I don't think the UK has had a really hard frost this winter and i have just read that we should expect this coming year to be hotter than last. Thankfully in my part of the UK water is not an issue we have a massive surplus,IT will be interesting to see how gardeners alter their gardens etc.. to adapt to a warmer climate on the surface it appears to be an exciting time because we will have the scope to grow plants that require warmer climates provided we can get day/night lenght right we could be growing a whole new range of plants My greenhouse is currently at 13 degrees celsius with out any heating at all this is unusual this time last year the heating had been on since November.

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