Last weekend we woke to our first hard frost, which seems to have stopped the unfurling cardoon bud in its tracks, although the fully opened flower soon recovered its composure.
After a cold bright weekend, for the past couple of days we have been plagued with violent torrents of hailstones and wild winds, accompanied by occasional streaks of lightning. The pellets of ice scatter across the ground after each shower, in an imitation of fallen snow; lingering in drifts and corners long after the majority have melted and restored the earth to its true colours.
Barely an hour after taking the snapshot above of a scattering of hailstones on part of the kitchen garden from the warmth of the house, I slipped into the garden in a brief sunny interlude between hail showers to take a closer look at what is still in bloom, and found a few surprises.
The snapdragons are still putting on a brave show, along with a few last stems of flowers on the Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, neither of which have stopped flowering since the summer. The late-flowering Echinacea purpurea is looking rather ragged, most of its petals torn apart by the wintry weather. I was more surprised to find that the Knautia macedonica has pushed up a new scarlet button, with two or three still forming
And one of the Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’, resolutely holding onto its last leaves, is covered in pale ivory clusters of buds unfolding at the end of its blazing red branches.
On the other side of the garden, the primroses continue to flower haltingly amid the rattle of hailstones.
Above these sway stems of the last pale pink Larkspur flowers, their petals washed out almost to translucence; nearby, Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’ is also departing quietly, its once vivid flower-heads a pale lavender fading to soft brown, although the plant is almost horizontal after the onslaught of recent winds across the open fields.
The frost has finally seen off the last nasturtium flowers, turning them into brown slime, and flowers on the strawberry plants have been similarly caught.
Along the side of the drive at the front of the house is rather an unusual pairing of blooms: the sunny yellow flowers of winter jasmine are accompanied by less seasonal creamy white clusters of flowers on the pyracantha that it grows through.
More in keeping with the season, one of two Cyclamen coum ‘Maurice Dryden’ given to us by my mum, which still sit in pots on the patio, has produced its first beautiful delicate flowers.
Winter has made a late but emphatic appearance in the past week, and while the mid-December garden still has a few odd components caught somewhere betwixt and between the seasons, it is beginning to succumb to convention at last.
Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly roundup of the garden’s blooms.