End of Month Review December 2018

I am writing this as 2018 draws to a close.  It is an understatement to say it has been a bit of a year.  December has been fairly mild and a bit rainy.  The garden has been quite soggy so it has been difficult to achieve much in the garden.  This is fine whilst the Christmas festivities are going on, but there reaches a point where I just long to be outside: weeding, pruning and just enjoying being in the garden.
In the front driveway the mahonia is slowly gearing up to flower.  The buds are looking nearly ready to burst.  I thought it might be in flower by now, but it is making me wait.
The Knot Garden is looking ok.  I would not say I am delighted with it but it is not irritating me as it was the other week.  It has had quite a weed and I have cut back some of the side shrubs.  The cypress trees have put on a lot of growth this year, I can tell that they have now really got their roots reaching out into the soil.  If these mild days continue I am going to give the box hedging a bit of a trim.  It is still growing and as long as there is not imminent frost I think I can get away with it.
These double hellebores are flowering in the front border by the house.  They are not very tall but they reliably flower early in winter every year.
The Varese planter I was given is now full of pansies and primulas.  Someone keeps digging in it:  it might be a fox-someone or a cat-someone; either is possible neither are welcome to do so.  I keep pushing the plants back in and hoping they can get enough of a foothold to withstand this.
It is the time of year when the Cardoor is starting to throw up its new foliage for next year.
I leave the seed heads on until they fall over or until the spring is here and they need moving for the new growth.  They are wonderful for insects to overwinter in and I think they give great height and shape in the garden.
In the courtyard all is growing well....... well, maybe not everything.......  you cannot quite see the Edgeworthia Red Dragon that shed all its leaves earlier this year.  I am not totally convinced it is dead and I equally not convinced it is alive.  I did that check of the stem to see if there was green underneath and there is, but there is no sign of life returning.  Time will tell.
The Rhododendron luteum has lots of buds ready for next year,
as does the Camellia Debbie.
Looking up into the backgarden the colour is mainly green and shades of brown.
The early hamamelis, which I have tried to stake better so that it becomes a bit more upright, is flowering well.  I know the stake is almost invisible, I chose a very discreet one.....
The early snowdrops are in flower.  Last year I said that these might be Mrs MacNamara, this year I am telling people they might be Robin Hood.  This is clear evidence I have no idea and should have labelled them.
The winter flowering cherry is just sparking into blossom.  I am very fond of this tree, the joy given from winter blossom just cannot be underestimated.
I always enjoy this view across the Prairie Borders.  The coppery tones of the beech pillars work well with the blonde locks of the Stipa tenuissima.
The straggly, sprawly but divinely scented winter honeysuckle spreads its perfume around the top of the garden.
and Prunus Ben-chidori is bursting at the seams to start flowering.
In the borders there are signs of the perennials starting to send out their new foliage.
and the first signs of Galanthus 'Madelaine ' can be seen.  Yes I did label this one, the labels are ugly, even pretty labels are ugly, but they serve a purpose.
This is Salix Mount Aso, I bought it last year and quite frankly it did not live up to the hype.  I had been wowed by pictures of its pink fluffy catkins; but it arrived with dirty greyish tassels that were way past their best.  So I look at these nicely forming pink buds and I hope that it redeems itself.
The vegetable borders are pretty sparse at the moment, but the broccoli is thinking about broccoling and the bed of self-sown cerinthe in the background is thriving.
The greenhouse is not very full and I have not fleeced it yet as the temperature has barely dipped below freezing with any concerted effort.
and the pond is not yet full, but is it getting more full.  It is now recognisably a pond again which is a good thing.

My thanks as ever go to Helen for hosting this meme.  I also pause to wish all my readers a happy christmas and new year.  I hope that 2019 is a better year for all of us.