Cold Snap

Reading time 3 minutes

Goodness it’s cold. If you’re in the UK, you won’t thank me for stating the bleeding obvious. If you are in Australia or New Zealand supping a glass of chilled chardy by the pool, spare a thought for us poor Poms freezing our extremities off this week.

So far our seaside garden has escaped frost, despite potholes in the road outside our gate being thick with ice. Zingiber zerumbet ‘Variegata’ (pinecone ginger) remains completely unscathed and we have carpets of Geranium maderense seedings appearing everywhere. Microclimates are extraordinary, inexplicable, precious things: I give regular thanks for the one that protects my precious plants.

Although I will in the garden tomorrow come hell or high water, it was too bitter to contemplate working outside today. Instead I’ve been leafing through the Broadleigh Gardens catalogue putting asterisks by a host of amarines, nerines and amaryllis I fancy for the garden next year. Amaryllis ‘Hathor’, a variety with heavenly white flowers, is top of my wish list.

Meanwhile I am contemplating the patchwork of yellow bricks that make up the facade of our new house, considering how to disguise it. I am almost settled on the idea of training a large specimen of Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ up the wall between the two ground floor windows. I have been in love with this stately American tree since I was at the University of Reading’s Wantage Hall, where two magnificent specimens flank either side of the quadrangle. I won’t be able to offer my own magnolia the same free reign, but I hope that, one day, I will marvel at its leathery leaves, plate-sized flowers and incomparable fragrance through the library windows.

Stay Warm. TFG.


Categories: Musings, Our Coastal Garden

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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34 comments On "Cold Snap"

  1. Hello from New Zealand, whilst we have the warmth sadly we have strong winds and plenty of rain for this our summer. Dahlias flowering exceptionally well.
    Regarding amaryllis Hathor, I find the white trumpet flowers do not open far enough, there are nicer white amaryllis with wider trumpet flowers, gererallly created from seedlings
    Enjoy your day. Cheers Rodja..

    1. That’s an excellent tip, thank you. Amaryllis are very borderline here in England, as you can imagine. I am hoping I can get away with them here by the coast, in a warm dry spot. I’ll be sure to let you know what varieties I choose in the end.

  2. Sounds chilly….enjoyed your post, as usual…Love to see a photo of the espaliered magnolias…sounds lovely..and being evergreen, could be enjoyed year-round…They have that great chamois-like indumentum on the leaf undersides as well. Another evergreen possibility for that spot, with great scented summer blooms, could be Tracelospermum jasminoides… Might be a bit tender for your growing zone though…

    1. Goodness no! It’s rampant in our garden ‘next door’. It has gone up a wall and is now half way across the neighbour’s garage roof. Cold has never troubled it thankfully. However, I feel we need something a bit different for the new garden that will make the most of the southwesterly aspect. It’s always exciting planning for a new space!

      1. Really…haven’t seen it take off like that here in Vancouver…Egads, can see why you’d want to avoid it there…Yes, the planning is really an enjoyable part of the process for sure…Your magnolia idea is an intriguing one..Hope you’ll post some photos of what you decide upon..

      2. I certainly will! Actually, Magnolia grandiflora is almost always grown against a wall here in the U.K. This must be a historic hangover from the days when it was considered very tender. Nowadays we don’t really get the big freezes that would have killed an exposed tree. I am trying to decide between ‘Galissoniere’ and ‘Exmouth’ – one French, one English.

      3. Ah, the benefits of global warming…btw, you don’t happen to know of a good (fairly affordable)bnb in London by any chance? Have used Airbnb, but still figuring out good places…If you don’t, of course, not a problem…

      4. Thanks Dan..I really like the area of Kensington around the V+A and Hyde Park. Probably an Airbnb is best choice for budget. Citizen M looks lovely, but don’t want to spend that much…Thanks again : )

  3. Love the idea of espaliering the magnolia Dan. It is something I had not considered before. Magnolias are very popular here in Australia, especially the ‘dwarf’ cultivars like ‘Little Gem’, ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Paris’ but I have not seen one used as an espalier.
    In my garden I have espaliered a a potted fruiting fig. Its roots are contained in a ‘self watering’ 40cm pot so they can not escape and damage the foundations. I don’t think there is much root space now left in the pot so I may have to remove it and root prune before returning it to the pot. It is not a task I relish. The plant is currently in fruit (it is 4 years old) and bears twice a year despite the harsh conditions. I believe we will see more plants trained like this as gardens where I live in Perth, Australia are getting smaller.

  4. I am so sad here in Vancouver. we had a wicked winter snowfall and we were away. our house sitters didn’t brush off the snow on our Teddybear Magnolia….aargh 4 dead huge branches! Ugh

  5. Just a wee note from Queenstown, NZ. Too cold to drink Chardonnay here this summer so we’ve reverted to Pinot Noir. Top temp today about 12, with wind chill down to about 9. Worst summer I can ever remember! Now crossing our fingers for a warm February.

    Sent from my iPad

  6. Yes was a lovely 34 degrees at home yesterday, and yes I did sit by the pool with a chardy, however was also very disciplined and pruned back the liquid amber and a few stray aggie heads at various intervals. (yes I pruned well over 300 head of the plantings around the pool this summer just as they started to bloom, otherwise the blossoms end up on the pool surface and it is a real mess.)

    You can keep that weather. Its been a weird summer here with more rain than we have had for many years so my water bill should not be too horrendous. 35 today and then low 20’s for the rest of week. C that is not F! I am sure you will use the time most wisely if stranded indoors with all those catalogues.

    1. Sounds blissful, although I still feel sad for your poor beheaded aggies! Freezing fog tonight and ice on the pond in London. I’m researching climbers to grow up the new part of the house 🙂 Have a good week x

  7. I’m in Mississippi and the first magnolias of the year are in bloom. It’s their state tree or flower – I forget which. We’ve had snow and six inch long icicles. Yesterday we escaped golf ball sized hailstorms by a few miles and my phone beeped with a tornado warning. Between the two we’ve had days where it reached 80 degrees and I have no doubt it will be back around there before long. Plants that can withstand such quick 50 degree overnight changes seem miraculous to me, so I think the magnolia is an excellent idea.

      1. You would think so, but they wisely tend not to go out in extreme weather – even the cars seek shelter from the large hail. Then within hours it might be back to the serenest of blue skies again. It was surprisingly warm during the hailstorm.

        It is an interesting place. Herbaceous plants suffer here – things we imagine are bullet proof in the UK just vanish during the summer – but many flowering shrubs, vines and trees are in their element.

  8. Yes, bloody cold here. Brrrrr. What an amazing idea to train a magnolia up a wall! We had to remove all our vines and climbers to enable the outside of our house to be repaired (usual boring stiff: repointing, plastering, painting) a couple of summers ago, and we haven’t really thought of what to replace any of it with.

    1. Absolutely bitter in London this morning. Everything crusted in white frost ❄️❄️

      Sounds like spring might be the time to replant Val. I am shortlisting clematis for our side fence and a passionflower for the garden room. It’s all about climbers for me at the moment!

      1. Clematis are lovely, we’ve always grown many varieties both here in Wales and before, in London. Ours, though, have to make do with scaling a fence at the moment! And yes, Spring is the time to planet. Brass monkeys here, hate to think what you’re experiencing there, temperature-wise.

  9. Are you set on a magnolia? I mean, if you always wanted one, then there’s no point arguing and you should go for it, of course. But personally I think they only look good on big manor-like houses where the leaves (and far too occasional flowers) don’t look out of proportion. I must also confess I don’t like them trained to a wall very much.

    Myself, I really like roses trained to walls (the old-fashioned cottagey way) but imagine with your exotic garden that wouldn’t work very well. But would you consider experimenting with some exotic climber, like Podranea – you know, global warming, microclimate and all that? Perhaps in time its “legs” would be too “naked” for the purpose, but still.
    I also rather like ornamental quince trained on a wall with the flower colour matched – or contrasting – to the latter, but assume in your case it is too boring for such a prominent spot for much of the year? Ceanothus might be better.

    1. In my head, I imagine I do have a big manor house, but I also love big leaves. I started off with the idea of training a quince, so that’s still an option I am entertaining. I’m just not sure it will be showy enough. Podranea I love from my last visit to Marrakech, but I might try that in the garden room before I risk it outside. And roses, they are bone of contention between Him Indoors and I. I would like more, but he’s not keen. We have Rosa banksiae on the other side of the house and, whilst it’s glorious in bloom, it’s quite boring (and bare) for the rest of the year.

      Decisions decisions! I’ll let you know what I decide. Thanks for your advice.

      1. Despite what I wrote above, I’m with you re the love of big leaves – the junglier the better for me. Let Trump et al have their way a few years and Monstera deliciosa might become a realistic option ;-).

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