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What a surprise it is when the Japanese aralia bursts into bloom in December. Quite why anything should naturally be programmed to flower at this time of year always puzzles me, but perhaps this native of Japan and South Korea is just confused by our seasons.Any late-flying insec...
It amazes me how ladybirds survive winter outside - hibernation is an extraordinary phenomenon. To withstand winter as adults, ladybirds and other creatures must find suitable shelter, and they'll seek high and low to find it. I've tried
to provide a warm duvet to protect them from frost, but I didn't. Milder winters have been on my side, heavy penetrating frosts haven't struck, and my tubers have survived! Dahlias are so easy to raise from seed, producing plants for just a few pence instead
. Is it really worth propagating what are relatively cheap bedding plants, and keeping these protected over winter to plant up next summer? I'm always in two minds. Pelargoniums, fuchsias and a host of others really need to be propagated now, too, if cuttings
, so this year I've invested in a few dwarf cyclamen. These are really indoor pot plants, but are quite at home in a patio pot for a couple of months. Now these are not hardy outdoor varieties, so could be killed off by cold and damp winter weather
of Versailles in France include thousands of them, and they can be clipped quite harshly to keep them neat. Although various references call it frost-hardy others refer to it needing to be lifted and protected over winter. I wonder what treatment would be most
to share it, but usually I'm alone, savouring every second.But that's where my camera comes in. Now it's a moment I can share.I admire the hardiness of those garden plants that don't shut up shop for winter but still put on a show. Every garden needs them
, so I keep the agapanthus pots outside to enjoy for as long as possible before carrying to the winter shelter of my unheated greenhouse.Many of the tender bulbs I grow outside in pots form attractive seed heads, and patient gardeners may be tempted
the tubers being eaten away by vine weevil grubs. None of my begonias has survived. Next autumn I'll remember to empty out the pots, clean up the tubers, and store them in clean dry compost for winter instead.
I've just enjoyed a relaxing hour, cup of tea in one hand, binoculars in the other, gazing out of the window at my garden. Yes, some plants are showing signs of growth, there's still bloom on my winter-flowering viburnum, and the squirrels are still