Pink Flowers in January?

Bright pink is not a colour I associate with January, or at least, not January in England. It would be perfectly reasonable to find pink flowers in more Southern climates, but here I am usually just seeing the first snowdrops, and waiting for the Winter Aconites, Crocus and Daffodils. (Of course those are all out too this year!)

Fuchsia hemsleyana

Fuchsia hemsleyana

However this year I have been struck by how many pink flowers there are in the garden. I was pruning last week, taking advantage of the waning moon and a rare sunny day, and found two different types of roses with pink flowers. They were a bit tatty from the weather, but doing their best with lots more buds to come. Nearby was a Fuchsia hemsleyana* that was giving me one of its best shows ever, absolutely covered in tiny pink flowers, and more predictably a Viburnum bodnantense Dawn. Then in the front garden, a pelargonium was just opening up a new flush of paler pink flowers. So it has made me think about colour, the time of year, and my relationship with it.

Pink is generally seen as the colour of nurturing and unconditional love, so is therefore assigned the heart chakra – more commonly seen as being green (also a colour of love). It is not a colour I tend to wear, so if the theory that we wear the colours we need in our life is true, then maybe I don’t currently have a strong unfilled need for nurturing and unconditional love. (I guess with M I’m doing the nurturing and loving!)

Looking at my current clothing though, I came to the conclusion I mostly wear the background colours I see around me – strong greens, browns, reds, black, navy blue in winter, and lighter blues, greens, turquoise, white, beige, red or occasional purples in summer. (Yes I know there are no yellows and oranges in my list, they just don’t look right on me.)

In my colour lists there is one exact repeat: red. The light version of red would be pink (they are not strictly speaking different colours, just different hues of the same colour) but I don’t currently have any. Then I realised there may be another reason for my not wearing pink – the availability of clothes in suitable shades, since I am more of a dusky or bright pink person, not baby pink which is most of what I see for sale.

So I have to ask the question – do I need the colours already around me at this time, that nature has so thoughtfully provided? And does that include pink? Because if so I shall need another visit to my favourite fabric shop!

*This is the name the plant was sold to me under, but may now be more correctly known as Fuchsia microphylla subsp. Hemsleyana.

Gardening with Roses

Rosa 'Flower Carpet White' gearing up for a late flush. Geranium Buxton Blue and Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' accompany.

Rosa ‘White Flower Carpet’ gearing up for a late flush. Geranium ‘Buxton Blue’ and Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ accompany.

Ever since I started gardening, I have had roses. As a child I grew one called ‘The Fairy’, twiggy and prickly but filled with tiny, pink, very double flowers in summer. My first rented house with a garden had two standard roses growing which I tended, and a year later starting my own garden roses were some of the first things I planted.

However now that I am redesigning the garden, I have been considering what plants I want to keep, and which ones I don’t. Roses were high on my ‘thought list’ because they are very tricky to garden around, being so prickly. Their shape with a narrow base and widening out means weeds grow readily underneath which I can’t then get to, or they get invaded by hardy geraniums and campanulas which smother new growth leaving smaller roses in particular with awkward, leggy shapes and flowers only at the ends of trailing stems. The end result hasn’t always been very satisfactory to me, let alone pleasing. So I considered removing all the roses and growing more of the other flowering shrubs that were easier to manage. Viburnums, Deutzias, Hydrangeas, Dogwoods, hardy Fuchsias etc.

Then Rosa Graham Thomas came into flower. And continued to flower steadily for the next two months. At that point I realised nothing really compares with roses. Not even peonies. I may not have the right ones in the right places for my garden, but roses just keep giving and giving all summer long. Their flowers are beautiful, the petals can be dried and eaten, Bees love them, as do many other insects, especially semi-double or single roses, and birds like the hips in autumn and winter.

So no, I’m not going to do away with roses. Instead I have placed an order for three new ones for the front garden, dowsing to help narrow my choices to those most likely to succeed. Then next year I will plan more for the back garden. I look forward to flowers all summer.