Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’

The beauty of Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’ lies as much in its exquisite and piercing scent as its visual appeal, a quality that is amplified when viewed in close-up. It flowers in our garden from the beginning of January reaching its height towards the end of the month. It is our most remarked on plant.
The flowers offer a subtle appeal. At this distance the air is filled with a scent that I can only liken to that of the hyacinth, save that my shrub is about eight feet tall and each flower is as powerfully scented as that plant.

This photograph was taken at the Lakeland Horticultural Society's Holehird Gardens exactly one week ago. Their specimen is larger than mine.
But this is all mine!

To give some idea of size, Holehird's shrub is by the front gate. It scents the whole garden.

Our Daphne is approximately 10 years old, purchased as a tiny rooted cutting.

The leaves have a tendency to go very yellow in my soil, something I have rectified to an extent by digging in limestone chippings in the Spring.

Galanthus "Trump", "Mrs Thompson" & "Kite"

 Three first year snowdrops greeted us today on our return from a long weekend in Cumbria.

"Trump" is a striking plant with its strong green dabs of colour. It has also been prominent for two weeks now. Some of my new snowdrops are too new to stand out from the crowd. Not so "Trump" which has trumped the lot.
... with the possible exception of "Mrs Thompson", resplendent with its twin flowers. It is not fully out yet. This one was planted last February.  
And another showy snowdrop with two flowers is "Kite", again in its first year.

Galanthus "Mighty Atom" and another infinitely mightier atom

"Mighty Atom" has been conspicuously in bud for several weeks now without opening out. Here it is, large head on stout if short shoulders. I cannot easily discern inner green markings though my new specimen has the merest smidgen of a green flush on the tips of the outer petals.

And another mighty atom as our gorgeous granddaughter, Beatrice Kitty, weighs in at an impressive 8lb 1oz, mother and daughter absolutely fine and our week in London paying handsome dividends.

Highgate Wood and Queen's Wood cafés, North London

In an urban environment replete with people, it is startling how London still manages to retain a rural integrity. Two adjacent woodlands possess the best of both worlds in their walks and cafés.

Over the rooftops of Highgate, Alexandra Palace in the sun.

Situated in some 70 acres of woodland, Highgate Wood's Pavilion Café is a favourite haunt and served a tasty full English breakfast on a much sunnier and warm morning than the previous day. Based on photograph alone, who would have thought this place is so much in the heart of the capital city's suburbia.
Queen's Wood in Highgate has 52 acres of woodland carefully tended by volunteers from what I could see. The building above could well have been situated in any of the rural shires. A mecca for mothers and toddlers on a weekday morning, the coffer and cuisine is excellent, the building quintessentially rural.

Alexandra Palace, London

Alexandra Palace dominates the North London skyline.  "The People's Palace" or "Ally Pally" first served as a recreation centre in Victorian times, was a home for the fledgling BBC and now hosts snooker and ice skating. It has survived two major fires and controversy surrounds its every development. It is an imposing if not entirely lovely building on a gloomy January day with rain forecast if not actually materialising.
The Marconi transmission mast above the BBC wing of Alexandra Palace. The scene of the first BBC broadcasts from 1936, it is still in use today broadcasting television and DAB transmissions. 220 feet high and resting on a hill that is itself 300 ft above  sea level. 

My favourite view with the Rose Window dominating. It had to be restored after a V1 Flying Bomb blew it out. Sadly for the great organ it protected, full restoration did not take place until the 1980s.

The blue and rose coloured glass look electric on this winter's morning.

The Palm Court was staging an international snooker competition, the queue masked by the hebe in full flower.

The skyline is famous. Even on a drab day the buildings are identifiable. 

Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny, 31st July 2008

Gardens do not always live up to one's expectations. Claude Monet's did.

The Water Garden. Monet's Garden has two components.

The water for the pool is fed by a brook that is ultimately connected to the Seine. Interestingly, Monet not only created his works of art, he also created his subject. The lake was man-made, made in the image of the Japanese prints he so loved.

The pastel planting here is as near to an original Monet as I am likely to get.

I was so impressed by the mirror image.

The house is blended into the garden organically. But I have no recollection of what it was like inside.

The Clos Normand with its wonderful plantings is the second component of the garden.

White plantings are not a new concept but this was a great success.

500,000 visitors each year. And we hit on the quiet day.

"All my money goes into my garden."

Galanthus "Lapwing"

One of this year's new snowdrops in my garden, I was initially disappointed with Lapwing but actually changed my mind when it opened out in today's warm weather and suddenly the green X was revealed. It stands out against the white, arching petals of this middling sized flower. As with many snowdrops that depend on the inner mark it is best viewed from as near a horizontal position as possible. I'll place it in a tall planter when it has increased in number. I'm told it clumps up well. 

Lake District tarn in autumn, 28th October 2008

I am due to feature images of Monet's house and gardens shortly, the lake and lily pads prominent. On the same hard drive I discovered images of one of the Lake District's finest hotels, Linthwaite House. The hotel is divine, the hillside tarn sensational. So, before France, a Cumbrian spectacle you may not be familiar with.
Linthwaite House Hotel in the fells above Bowness has its own private lake or tarn. There is an easy walk around.

The colours of autumn with the fiery red of the maples adding their special glow.

The heuchera is on fire.

One of my favourite photographs. Claude Monet could well have moved house had he visited Cumbria.
Windermere is beautiful in its own right and over the years ornamental trees have added to its glory.

The hotel has a well maintained walk through the woodland to the tarn.

I think I stood on one of the benches to obtain this view of the lake.

I suspect this is a view of the dam required to capture this particular chunk of paradise.

And at the head of the tarn is a summer house that has been warm, in my recollection, even in the heart of winter. All it takes is a little bit of sun.

Two beautiful shrubs for a car park

Talk about being damned with faint praise. No self-respecting shrub would willingly embrace the term, car park shrub. It's a bit like being told that you have a good face for radio - which I do. The car park for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has an £8 fee but the most wonderful planting on a bright morning in early January.
Neither are the common hedging dogwoods my favourites except for the crucial time of winter when their stems exude fire.

The common snowberry, or Symphoricarpos Albus if you prefer, is a plant I'm not too keen on. The white berries have a slightly menacing look to my eyes, and indeed it is mildly poisonous for humans.
But amassed around a tree in the main car park it has a certain effervescence about it. I wouldn't drink the wine but my wife was impressed enough to send me on a detour after I'd paid the parking fee.

And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'