In suspense Posted on December 30, 2014

I was surprised by my own excitement in the garden this morning. I’ve discovered over the years that it isn’t only plants that notice the days being a couple of minutes longer. It stirs human blood, too. Especially on a day of brilliant blue sky.

But the excitement came from a sudden rush of memory of all the things I’ve planted in the last year and shall enjoy in the coming one. Bulbs, of course, but mostly plants that have just ticked over as they are taking root and will really make their entrance in the months to come.

The previous year’s planting (our first) was quick to make a difference. My screening trellis on the end wall is a tangle of solanum, clematis, rose, jasmine and eccremocarpus. There is a big spring job waiting for me here, mostly in taming the marvellous white solanum. I have even warned people myself that this plant is a colonizer. 18 months in the ground here, in an almost undiggable corner under the sycamore, has given it a wingspan of something like 30 feet in our garden and our neighbour’s. Just now I noticed that a stray tentacle is still flowering (it’s freezing hard) in a potted standard of another solanaceous thing, Ipomea (or Acnistus) australe. Few shrubs have the honour of a pot here, but the blue bells of Ipomea have seduced me. (There is a shrub 12 feet across in the Chelsea Physick Garden).

The plants that haven’t yet really performed are a couple of climbing roses and the viticella clematises I look to to colour our trellises late in summer. It always seems a pity to do as the books say and chop them down just as they get a good purchase among the other climbers. One of the clematis (the potentially sumptuous C alba luxurians) and two roses have everything to prove. I discovered them totally suppressed, in a sort of coma, overwhelmed with ivy and hydrangeas.

One rose, fed and watered for a year now, still hasn’t flowered (though its reddish leaves look familiar). Of course the longer it takes the keener I am to know what it is and decide which way to point my thumb. Another one only took a few months to declare itself – and Iceberg can never be unwelcome.

There is anticipation all around: small brainwaves that haven’t yet crested. I planted a Daily Telegraph collection of three pulmonarias; they should be quick to show their colours (white and blue). Last year’s discovery, Salvia vitifolia, is snug under a compost duvet (for as long as I can keep the local cats away). A fox visits our unguarded front garden. If one scrambles over the trellis into the back one I shall not be happy. Nor can I understand why we tolerate these disgusting animals in cities at all.

I hung silver balls in our big front magnolia for Christmas. I see no reason to take them down before the velvet buds open and surround them with purple petals.

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