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A North Wales Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: December 2017: Entry 67

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year in the garden

Well, another year has passed and here I am sitting at my keyboard with little need for any heating in our cold old house because it is +8C outside at 10 pm! I can't remember such a mild runin to Christmas, but at least it makes life a lot easier for those, like our kids, who are travelling here for Christmas or New year. Surprisingly, I do not have any snowdrops out yet, but in the last few days many have started to appear so we shall have plenty by New Year. All this only a fortnight after we had 2" (5.0 cm) of snow and below zero temperatures, the first time we have had this much snow for 5 years, apart from a freak late March snowstorm in 2013.  The photos show plants in the garden before the thaw set in: the first is what I had regarded as a fairly tender plant, Grevillea lanigera 'Mt Tamboritha', in full flower, covered in snow; I am pleased to be able to report that it survived unscathed and is still putting on a good show. The second shows branches of Magnolia wilsonii  looking like nothing so much as reindeer antlers in velvet. And finally a real ericaceous aristocrat, Cassiope wardii, braving the cold snap.

Grevillea lanigera 'Mt Tamboritha' covered in snow

Magnolia wilsonii branches encased in snow Cassiope wardii covered in snow

Dendrobium nobile and Ludisia discolor

How nice it is in the depths of winter to escape into the shelter and warmth of the alpine house, but even better sometimes to go one step further and enjoy the semi-tropical luxuriance of our little intermediate (min 15C) orchid house. I am gradually learning how to grow these plants better, which mainly comes down to resisting the urge to water them until they really need it, which I must say I find almost impossible!. Anyway, I'm better than I was and the orchids soon show their approval of neglect! Here are two beauties, currently in flower, a selected form from Chester Zoo (yes, they have an excellent orchid collection there too!) of Dendrobium nobile,  which I like very much, and the so-called 'Jewel Orchid', Lydisia discolor, whose netted leaves give pleasure all year long while the occasional spikes of flowers repay close inspection, as indeed do those of almost all orchids. So, about as far from alpines as one could ever stray, but I hope you enjoy these orchids anyway.

Lydisia discolor

Dendrobium nobile

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