26 Jan 2013

Brightening up a winter's day

Looks like it's all over.  Rain and warmer temperatures are forecast but, for now, sunshine ... and more promised for tomorrow midday in the South. It's still very chilly but most of the snow has thawed or been washed away by last night's rain - I'll be venturing out into the veg patch today to see how solid the ground is.

Salix alba var. vitellina
Golden Willow at Capel Manor lake yesterday.
Yesterday, up at Capel Manor, there was snow on the ground and the lake was still partly frozen - the fountain had prevented freezing at one end while there was thick ice at the other.  Although the class rushed quickly, shuddering with cold, to complete the plant ident walk, I went back with my camera in the lunch break. (Thick gloves and a down-filled coat kept me warm.) After weeks of white and grey, yesterday's plant walk was a treat, providing several moments of pure and unexpected colour.

Hamamelis Mollis
Witch Hazel and Dogwood (Hamamelis mollis and Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Beauty')
Chaenomeles x superba
Japanese quince (Chaenomeles x superba).
Colourful cornus
Colourful Dogwood stems (Cornus alba 'Sibirica' and C. sanguinea 'Midwinter Beauty' behind)
The Japanese quince (Chaenomeles) is an interesting shrub - an untidy twiggy dome, covered with beautiful red flowers in winter, but the fruit rotting on the ground underneath shows that it can be productive in the summer.  The fruit can be used to make quince jelly, but, as with the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga), it's not good eaten raw.  Useful if you want to brighten your garden in winter with a smallish edible shrub - it likes sun or part shade - but beware the spiny stems!

Helleborus x hybridus
The Lenten Rose - Hellebore x hybrida.  Here growing alongside purple heathers and snowdrops.   

23 comments:

  1. Wow! Some AMAZING colours there. Fabulous photos, Caro. Like the Witch Hazel best - very bizarre, but very attractive nonetheless.

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    1. Thanks Mark. The reality was much more intense! Somehow the photos don't quite capture the depth of colour that I thought I saw. I don't usually like witch hazel but, as a foil or backdrop for the red stems of cornus, I think it works well.

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  2. Love the golden willow shot - you have captured the cold day perfectly.

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    1. Our weeks of snow weren't nearly as bad as you had, Elaine, but it's all part of nature's bigger picture. Last night's rain washed away the last of the snow in York Rise so I'm pleased to have caught a little bit of of the winter wonderland on camera!

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  3. Lovely photos great to have some colour at this time of year.

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    1. Thanks Damo. The colour is a treat but I can't wait until the summer is here again!

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  4. I do so love willow and dogwood in the winter. I have three tiny cornus to plant up for my own mini grove as soon as the ground dries out a little and I can actually dig it. Funnily enough, I also inherited a witch hazel and willows, and have a chaenomeles also awaiting planting! Spooky... Capel Manor seems like a rather wonderful place to be spending time, with the right clothing, anyway...

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    1. It is indeed Janet! The weekly plant identification walks always reveal another hidden gem in the gardens and, of course, it changes all the time! SO interesting to see the gardens changing through the seasons. I think your plants will look fabulous in your garden and the cornus will certainly brighten up the borders in years to come!

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  5. nice to see some pictures with a good splash of colour Caro, that pond looks frozen hope the children enjoyed the day, all the best David

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    1. Thanks David! Now that I've started to look for winter colour, I see it everywhere! Makes you realise you don't have to settle for green and brown through the winter!

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  6. Such a lot of winter colour there, what a super place to study, full of inspiration.

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    1. Absolutely, Pauline! I feel it's a real privilege to study at Capel, such beautiful grounds with plenty going on all around us. My college day is one that I always look forward to.

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  7. I like the pictures. It really is surprising what delights can be found at this even at this time of year in weather like this. xx

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    1. Thank you Flighty. I've since been to the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge, specifically to look at the Winter Garden planting and realised that it's possible to have a riot of colour in the garden, right through the winter, if you plan correctly. It's all put my head in a whirl!

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  8. Hadn't realised until I saw your photos how much red and yellow there is this time of year. Lovely post

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    1. .. and that's before the daffodills are out bringing even more colour! The cornus stems are amazing for adding colour to a winter border (although they're pretty dull the rest of the year) and, of course, there's all the "smellies": Daphne, Viburnam bodnantense, etc - what a shame we can't write a blog with scratch and sniff!! Thanks Lynda for commenting - nice to hear from you!

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  9. Those are very nice hellebores. What are you studying at Capel Manor?

    I was in the garden centre today and they said that more snow is forecast soon. Not sure where they got that from. I had been deluded that spring was on the way...

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    1. Hi Claire, I'm late in replying to this so I can say that the forecasters got it right! Like you, I thought spring was on it's way and was tempted to take the protective fleece covering from my raised beds - luckily I resisted! We'll just have to see what the damage is once the winter is over - March, maybe, hopefully!

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    2. Forgot to mention that I'm studying Garden Design. Just in my first year at the mo, but enjoying it so hope to go on to do the Level 3 and after that who knows? For a garden addict, it's heaven!

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  10. The Lenten rose photo is so pretty Caro...it just goes to show that there can always be beautiful flowers in the garden all year round.

    Quick note on my experiences with Japanese Quince (aka Flowering Quince): I find that the fruit is a bit different from the Quince that most people are familiar with and more like little yellow crab apples. I've used them the same as you would for crabbies and they're just brilliant - though they're extremely tart they're packed with Pectin. It's a shame that more people don't use them but I predict you'll be back next summer to pick some :)

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    1. Thanks for the top tips, Tanya - I'll definitely want to give them a try! We've covered crab apple trees on our plant ident walks and I can tell you that the flowering quince is a lot prettier in the winter! There's also a beautiful tree called Rhus typhina, the sumach tree. All the fruit was left on the tree, going to waste - the tutors didn't realise that it's a spice that can be eaten! (I only know from reading James Wong!) xx

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  11. Superb photography Caro x

    I have left a couple of blog awards for you over at my blog. Don’t worry too much if you don’t wish to play along with the rules of these things.

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    1. Thank you Karen - high praise, coming from you and much appreciated! Thanks for the award, if I have time I'll try and post about it later this week - I'm glad your move went well!

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Caro x

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