This morning began with snow flurries. The sky then cleared and the sun peeped out, only to have the snow come back, driven by gusty winds. But as before, the snow stopped soon after and all that remains is just a dusting of white on the driveway. The sun is lighting up the birch trunks now against a striped grey and pale blue sky. I feel this is going to be one of those indeterminate weather days, but the forecast is for alternating sun and snow in the morning and continuous snowfall from the afternoon until night. It is weird but lovely to have a cloudless caerulean sky lit by the sun one minute, and a few minutes later a drab sky with threatening clouds. Never a dull moment today for sure!
Over the past days I’ve been working flat out to meet a deadline, and at the same time enjoying the company of houseguests – very good friends from way back, Hong Ching from Malaysia and Carme from Catalonia. Savouring these precious moments and delighting in the sharing of ideas and experiences, and even more, our joy at being together after so long — take priority over journalizing, any day! For these rare and pleasurable visits, I am truly thankful.
Garden update: outdoors the skimmia (Skimmia japonica) bushes are looking very handsome with their maroon buds clustered among shiny evergreen leaves. They’re fattening up and getting ready for spring when their sweet scent will carry throughout the garden. Spikey leaves of the scilla (grape hyacinth) have come up under the twisty hazel tree, and a few flowers have opened precociously on one of the forsythia bushes. It’s the one in a more sheltered spot among other shrubs. Their company keep it protected from the chilling east winds. The artichokes seem to have come through being buried by the last snowfall.
Indoors, the lemon tree continues to bloom and deliciously perfume the sitting room. It obviously loves its position by a south-facing window with lots of light and sun (on those rare sunny days we get in winter here in Bonn). The calamondin (calamansi) on the other hand keeps dropping its leaves, signalling its displeasure at its current location facing west, and although there it gets lots of light, it is certainly deprived of direct sun. I shall have to move it next to the lemon if I don’t wish it to drop all its leaves altogether. Plants requirements trump interior design, and I shall have to forego the pleasure of having the calamondin’s fruits and perfume next to an armchair.
On a brighter note, one of my pots of amaryllis has not just one, but two, buds stretching upwards exceedingly fast. I’ve only taken the bare potted bulbs out of their dark “winter quarters” (the boiler room) a week ago, and in that time one of them has managed a bud close to 30 cm (12 inches) showing a sliver of the palest red. They’re both on a window ledge that gets plenty of light but not direct sun. The other only has leaves at the moment. It was the one traumatized by a ferocious snail or slug attack on its flower bud last year, and perhaps has never quite recovered. I’m hoping it will have forgotten and perhaps put out a bud too. Normally amaryllis is in bloom around Christmas, but perhaps because these pots spend their time outdoors in a not very sunny location, they take much longer to build up their reserves of energy. The bud that had been devoured was just on the verge of emerging from the bulb last summer.
For plants that are at their best in winter when other plants are dormant, I am so grateful. The amaryllis’s buds carry a special message –- during the darkest and coldest and most dreary of times, that is precisely when this stately and elegant lily shows its mettle and blooms.