Garden Diary - December 2015

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Solstice Flowers
Monday, 21 December 2015

It turns, the year. And this is the shortest day and thus paired with the longest night. Slowly, slowly, bit by bit it will change, but for not we are still with the dark. This year things are disheveled. It has been absurdly warm. Then a couple of normally chilly nights. After which it flip-flops back to mild. Forsythia have a few scattered flowers. Rhododendrons also. Magnolia buds look swollen. A friend who is trying to cope with forcing plants for the Philadelphia Flower Show in March is practically gnashing his teeth.

No matter. Today I will go into the garden in search of my winter blooming snowdrops. I am concerned because the entire colony of Galanthus nivalis regina-olgae has vanished. They bloomed in October 2014. No leaves appeared this past Spring. And no flowers. So I am crossing my fingers as, camera in hand, I go down slope and into the woods.

To be rewarded with snowdrops. Unlike Queen Olga who would wait until Spring to send up leaves to nourish the bulbs for another performance (what could have happened?) these produce both foliage and flower together. In December.

All appears to be well.

I continue further into the woods, intent on clearing fallen leaves off the bridges. There's something pale showing, across the intermittent drainage creek. Probably a bleached leaf, caught on a twig. But walking in the woods is always a pleasure so I'll continue brushing leaves off the big bridge and down the parallel path to see what it might be.

Joy! It is the hellebores that I bought at Shoprite supermarket, of all absurd places. Back in 2012.

Helleborus xericsmithii, flushed with pink on the petals reverse, clean pure white inside. There's the Christmas rose, H. niger, which has never flowered so timely for me. And not this year either. By xericsmithii, all the plants, each with several stems, every stem with open flower and some buds, offers sign and portent that the solstice will come, will pass, and the days will lengthen, creeping minute by minute.

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