Christmas Cheer, Boxing Day Blooms and Golden Hares

Few words here. Just a record of this Christmas’ unseasonal flowers which seem to match the sentiments of the first verse read, snuggled up on Christmas morning, once the paperback was retrieved from the stockinged toe and fell open at page 35….

Gather ye Rose buds while ye may,

Old Time is still a flying:

And this same flower that smiles to day,

Tomorrow will be dying.

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Some hangers on, but many winter stalwarts – snowdrops, especially Galanthus ‘Mrs Macnamara’ (originating from Dylan Thomas’ mother-in-law’s garden) emerging just in time for a second blooming in the bard’s centenary year, and at least 3 weeks earlier than ever before along with the other personally monikered Hamamelis ‘Robert’ and Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’, which sometimes don’t flower until late February with us!  And Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ has indeed done just that, for the first time ever – I found an image of it in flower on my blog from March 23rd 2011.

The opening verse is from the poem by Robert Herrick (1591-1674  – “To the Virgins, To make much of Time”, from an anthology – The Nation’s Favourite Love Poems published by BBC Books in 1997).

Finally I must recommend an exhibition at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, still on until mid January for anyone who can make it, of paintings by the artist and author Jackie Morris who lives in Pembrokeshire. It includes most of the paintings from her gorgeous illustrated book ” The Song of the Golden Hare”.sdim5275-2 (2)

We were fortunate to meet Jackie, and obtain a beautifully signed copy of her book. But do read by clicking here of the amazing synchronicities surrounding its’ creation, and get a feel for the charm of Jackie’s work. I persuaded a fellow outlaw to read this web page about the genesis of the ‘Golden Hare’  in advance of Diana’s birthday supper just before Christmas. Later, with drinks, Fiona’s Shropshire based sister presented a small gift to Diana.

Unwrapped, it was revealed.

A wonderful, old gold bronze resin sculpture of a hare .SDIM9913 (2)

Happy New Year.

14 thoughts on “Christmas Cheer, Boxing Day Blooms and Golden Hares

  1. Happy New Year to you and Fiona. Wonderful photos as usual and it is truly amazing to see all the plants that are in flower now. I was just about to write up on my blog an account of our visit to the Botanic Gardens on Boxing Day and include a tribute to the amazing work of Jackie Morris- but you’ve beaten me to it! So instead I’ll write about my visit to Aberglasney today and how I missed seeing the otters and the kingfishers but I did see some beautiful plants in flower…but you’ve said that already too!! Happy Blogging 2015!

    • Hello Marianne,
      Thanks for the comment – I’d write them up anyway, since I guess we have very little overlap in readers? Anyway, prompted by your comment about Aberglasney. we were passing that way today, and decided to call in and have lunch, and in the end became members again, since we thought it’s improved a lot in both the cafe, Ninfarium and garden since we were last there, just under a year ago.
      Best wishes to you both for 2015,
      Julian

  2. Delighted that you have become members again. The Gardens are wonderful all through the year, the Ninfarium has colour and flowering plants also throughout the year and the café run by Maryellen’s is outstanding- I can vouch for all the cakes, the coffee and the lunches!! I’m usually there every Sunday so look forward to a catch up over a coffee and maybe we’ll spot those otters together! Happy New Year .

  3. Your garden is way ahead of mine; I have a rose in bud and a few daffs and snowdrops poking their heads above ground but nowhere near flowering …. and a purple thing I don’t know the name of – not much of a gardener! All the best for 2015.

    • We’ve always thought at 800 feet, that we’re a late garden, and in some senses we are, but being so close to the West coast mitigates the worst of the cold, and the very coldest air rolls into the valley bottoms – none of which we considered when we bought the property. But for the early flowering snowdrops, you have to get hooked and get an early flowering form – if I could give you one suggestion try and plant a few Galanthus ‘atkinsii’ – nearly out with us now. It’s where we started with special snowdrops years ago, and we now have hundreds of atkinsii and its one of the cheapest, easiest and tallest. And being sterile lasts for a long time.(up to 6 weeks). Like all snowdrops it will delight you every January for years to come! Happy New Year,
      Julian

      • Thank you for the suggestion. I haven’t a clue what variant of snowdrop I have but a little mouse is enjoying pushing them up!

  4. Hi Julian,
    Your comment that “the very coldest air rolls into the valley bottoms” is indeed a romantically colourful and accurate description of the creation of an inversion layer. We experience the same thing here in Surrey, where the temperature in the early mornings and late evenings is much higher on the Surrey Hills than it is down here in the valley villages. I know something about this because I was once asked in a Viva following a project on air pollution in my Chem Eng degree to define an inversion layer and was severely criticised by the head of department for giving a long, rambling and technical answer to a simple question!

    So let me try the simple answer I should have given way back then. Atmospheric temperature decreases with altitude, ultimately to very close to Absolute Zero in space. This occurs partly because atmospheric pressure is highest at ground level and decreases with altitude, and air will cool as it rises and heat up as it falls. Also, solar radiation has a major impact, because the earth itself absorbs most of the solar radiation and in turn this is conducted to the immediate atmosphere and convected upwards through meteorological processes. We would therefore expect a fairly smooth relationship between altitude and temperature.

    However, in an inversion layer, cooler air gets trapped under warmer air, and produces a stable equilibrium where convection obviously does not take place, because the cooler air will anyway tend to sink. The following is a rough sketch of what one would expect.
    https://docs.google.com/a/chomse.com/drawings/d/12gSw1xuKuVLMNdL3QfJEVtsot5oqBE98oLnmhOBHV_Y/edit?usp=sharing

    Various meteorological conditions can cause inversion layers, and some are quite complex, but at its simplest, an inversion layer can be caused when the earth cools more rapidly than the surrounding air, such as near sunset in winter in clear conditions at relatively high latitudes. The sun’s heat is rapidly radiated away from the surface, which then cools the surface air, creating a stable inversion layer. Though this may result in picturesque mists in the Welsh Valleys, it also leads to intense pollution in places like Beijing and even Cape Town, and the locals wish for strong weather systems to blow through and upset the equilibrium.

    Maybe this will create more heat than light, but for what it’s worth…..
    Regards,
    Kevin

    • Hello Kevin,
      As always a fascinating an informative insight into the effects which often transform the scene around here, and catch my camera’s eye. So much so, that I feel I have to concur with Leanne Wood’s (Plaid Cymru’s leader) contribution to the Radio 4 WATO 50 year celebration of great things about the UK, aired today, that she would select the magnificent scenery of the Welsh nation, as her contribution. However she omitted to also mention that she is hell bent on transforming the same magnificent scenery by plastering it with wind turbines, of which she is a staunch advocate. Ah well…
      Best wishes
      Julian

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