In flower this Christmas

As promised, between the champagne and the Christmas duck, I muffled-up warmly and paced about the garden looking for flowers. I have included only those I have found in my own garden; extended to include others in the village, the list might be much longer.

This fine seasonal ritual has been practiced by British gardeners for generations, with the results being posted to the Letters to the Editor section of some of the more serious papers for the education and edification of interested readers. Now that there are no serious papers to speak of, I continue this traditional pastime here, in the Gardener in France blog.

“Dear Sir,

Please find herewith my Floral contribution to the Health and Happiness of the Nation, and may God bless all who sail in her.

Starting in the back garden and moving in a clockwise gyration, we find Jasminium nudiflorum, reliably dotted with bright yellow flowers. Moving on to the side bed, there are Begonias, Petunias and Violas still in flower and extending the summer bedding display to the end of this unusual year. At the far end of the same bed, against the cabin wall, our Daphne odora Aureomarginata is covered in buds and just starting to open. Close by, I found one sky-blue flower of Salvia uliginosa amongst a big, sprawling clump.

Across to the other side of the garden where Rhododendron yak. Sneezy is looking very pretty in pink, next to an Ilex x. meserveae Blue Angel with berries and Skimmia japonica Majic Marlot, permanently in bud. Further along, at the beginning of the white border, Viburnum burkwoodii has started into bloom, with Erica Springwood White covered with blossom and a single flower on Hebe Kirkii. In the herb garden, Rosemary still carries plenty of flowers.

We have a little collection of Semperviviums in hollowed out rocks against the south wall of the house and one variety has been in flower for some time. Moving on to the central bed our two species of Phlomis, P. purpurea and fruticosa are blooming, as is our single plant of Penstemon Melting Candy. I have seen several other Penstemons in flower around the village. A Calendula looks dazzling on this grey day and other bedding in flower including Nasturtium and Dianthus. Finally, Lavandula stoechas Victory has produced buds and flowers following a haircut after its more usual flowering period.

Few of the plants in the back garden have been with us more than three years so I am rather pleased with the progress, but the front is very newly planted. On a bank by the front gate Convolvulus cneorum is in full bloom and there is just one flower on the Campanula persiciflora Coerlea and a few on Agastache Fragrant Mix, grown from seed this year. In the bed against the front wall Abelia Kaleidoscope and the Mimosa are providing the display, while against the Apartment Garden fence, a single pink Rose flower braves this winter morning.

Camellia grijsii - scented white flowers by the front door in Chabris

Pride of place has to go to Camellia grijsii, in full bloom and covered in fragrant white flowers, placed in a large blue pot next to the front door where everyone can appreciate it. On the other side of the step, also in a large blue Chinese pot, Camellia reticultata Variegata sports its last flower of the year. Helleborus nigra, in the border nearby, is quite subdued in comparison.

So there you have it, 31 plants flowering for Christmas and I still haven’t bought a Mahonia media!

I remain Sir, Yours, etcetera,

Colin G. Elliott Esq., Chabris, central France”

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