Friday 23 November 2012

Winter Jewels

For the first time, a plant we brought with us from Leeds has come into flower. Yes - in November. The original was sold to me as viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn". I suspect it may have reverted to one of its parents, probably viburnum farreri, as the flowers aren't as showy as the books indicate. It has pom-poms of tiny pale pink trumpets, which are scented faintly with vanilla. These appear, a few at a time, all through the winter. It has not yet lost all its leaves, which are dark green flushed with red and handsome in themselves through the summer, but it is when the leaves finally fall that the flowers come into their own. The stems form graceful arches and root themselves to form new plants if they touch the ground. Thence came our plant here in France.

Little pink trumpets

It is as hardy as an old boot and will grow anywhere, although the first one I planted - before we moved in - died of thirst. This one sent up two healthy shoots last year, which are now flowering. This year it's been given the vegetable washing water, as it's just a step from the kitchen door. We'll have to make sure it doesn't get as big as its parent or we won't be able to cross the bridge!

Viburnum farreri was named after its finder, Reginald Farrer, a botanist, artist, would-be novelist and poet, who traveled through the mountainous regions of East Asia in the first two decades of the 20th century. Farrer populated the gardens of Ingleborough Hall (in "Clapham, North Yorkshire" as the Leeds railway station announcement robot insisted on calling it) with exotic plants, on one occasion by firing seeds out of a shotgun. Some of his introductions, including viburnum farreri, may be seen in Clapham to this day. You can find out more about Reginald Farrer here.

Pauline [signed in as Tim on the laptop.]

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