A Cold Snap Stops Everything for a Week

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Posted by @NEILMUIR1 on
Everybody seemed happy in the sun. Instead of looking down at the ground on their way to work, people held their heads high and were stopping to look at the wonderful spring flowers. Then it became overcast and the rain started; cold days and very cold nights set in for a week. On Monday morning we all awoke to clear blue skies; the sun came out, and everything was suddenly happy once again.

Once I could get out into the sun it was like a different world compared to what we had suffered over the past week. All the people I know were out gardening, and in return for a bit of advice or a chat with a cup of tea they were most happy to have their treasured plants photographed. The magnolias suddenly came into bloom everywhere you could see. I was at a loss as to what to photograph next! I would like to show you some of the better photos and name the species I recognize, as one is very old and nobody seems to know what it is. These are all Magnolia soulangeana.

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These were quite lovely as well, so I had to get a photograph of them. The one on the right belongs to my neighbour, Old Newton, as everybody calls him. He wanted his magnolia shown here, so here it is.

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Everyone knows this as the 'School Tree' as it is old and massive and outside the local school. Some years it is stunning and others years it has nothing much on it. A very elderly lady was a bit concerned as to what I was doing near it, but I explained and when she saw my camera she told me the history!  She claims it was planted by her husband after the First World War, to symoblize the peace we had. It has survived the sticky fingers of children in the school and the effects of the Second World War. She alleges it flowers white and pink some years for peace, some years in remembrance it flowers pink and purple; in other years it flowers not at all in memory of the great losses at the battle of the Somme in 1916! I have seen it flower white and now this colour, as the lady informs me that it is the 70th anniversary of the Blitz on London. To give you some idea of the size, the second picture has a normal street tree in blossom behind it. As I took this at a low angle the tree behind it looks bigger, it is not! The Magnolia branches on both pictures are the bottom branches!

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There were so many people who wanted to show me their magnolias.  I was at a loss and could not refuse, although too many cups of tea later, I was pleased to get home!

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The Magnolia stellata had also decided to show itself all over, I love this magnolia. People with small gardens can have a Magnolia in a container that always gives great pleasure.

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There are some other wonders, however. The horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum has started, albeit late. This tree was once planted as a street tree until the Victorians realized it got to 100 feet! This one has red and white flowers but some are yellow. The panicles are emerging on top of the leaves, ready for flowering! Every schoolboy knows this tree as the 'conker tree'. Holes were made through the nut (conker), a piece of string was put through the hole and you hit each others conkers in turn till one broke. To have a conker that had won a hundred battles was a great honor at school. As with everything, Health & Safety banned it at all schools, although the children (and big children), still do it out of school as it is a British tradition! The tree on the right is an old beautiful evergreen Holm oak, Quercus ilex.

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The Victorians were obsessive about plant collecting and one plant they loved was the Chusan palm or Chinese fan, windmill palm, Trachycarpus fortunei.  Here is an old one. The plant on the right is Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus). This plant is put everywhere as it grows anywhere, and unfortunately has a horrible smell when in flower.

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The Victorians also loved hedges and they had to be straight! Instead of using yew, as it is highly toxic, they used privet, Ligustrum ovalifolium.  They did not realize that privet, if left to flower and produce berries is also toxic, and the roots poison the soil. Some people are proud of their hedges and some leave them to grow into jungles. Others who like topiary turn them into pigs and peacocks to mention but a few. The main problem is that people planted them with two colours, the normal green, and the variety 'Aureum' which is an insipid yellow. They assumed they could have differnt coloured stripes in them, how wrong they were!

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Here is a Kerria japonica with its lovely yellow fowers. On the right the Pieris formosa var. forrestii 'Wakehurst' has really shot up now, and is quite glorious in the sunlight.

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I adore the main show of tulips, the dwarf tulips are really nearly finished in some places. I think these are quite beautiful!

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Some people adore grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum, yes, they are indeed a welcome and lovely sight.  Some people like a lot of them!

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My beautiful coral bark maple, Acer Palmatum 'Senkaki', has decided to stun us all with a sudden burst of leaves, the new bark is fantastic. My own pieris, Pieris 'Forest Flame' is also really fighting for top honors in the garden.

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I had the kitchen door open as the sun was beaming through, and then this incredible scent hit me. Knowing immediately what it was I grabbed my camera, the star of the garden had come into flower, what heaven! This Clematis armadii is so wonderful, words cannot describe this evergreen, species, Clematis. It flowers now or earlier and then again in August\September depending on the weather. Having been through lots of harsh winters, it has not been touched at all by any of them. My mother describes the scent as like jasmine & gardenia, I just know it is wonderful! The amount of flowers this year is awesome. Unfortunately due to its vigour, it has taken over the washing line, plus two sides of the wall and the Japanese arbor as well. This is the Queen of the garden with no doubt at all at this time of year!

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The blossom is out, but the Japanese cherries are late due to the cold. Unfortunately the street trees were put in ad hoc, depending on the cheapest and not the best. The contractors had no idea what they were doing at all, and definetly not a clue how to plant them, so many died!

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Here are some with pink blossoms, which are nice to see.

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The picture below is the new life of a tree fern, Dicksonia antartica that got battered by the awful winter.

Finally I must thank most profusely all the wonderful people who post and put amazing pictures on our Cubits.




Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Fantastic Neil by cececoogan Apr 28, 2010 11:54 AM 13
Lovely photos and great information by lakesidecallas Apr 13, 2010 1:16 PM 6
What a lovely sight by murielw1 Apr 12, 2010 11:04 AM 2
Thank you by valleylynn Apr 12, 2010 7:34 AM 2
"Jealous" by Boopaints Apr 11, 2010 7:57 PM 4
Oh My, by Happy_1 Apr 11, 2010 4:22 PM 4

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