I'm particularly thrilled about my gardenia bushes, which are blooming extremely well this year. Gardenias were my paternal grandmother's much-treasured flowers, due to her daughter Elaine's fondness for them (Aunty Elaine died at age 17, although she has ben an influence over several generations who never met her). I once bought my grandmother a potted gardenia for her balcony as a gift and it was an annual celebration whenever that first fragrant bud burst open. When I bought my own flat in 1984, a gardenia for the balcony was one of my first purchases.
Since moving to the house in 2000, I've made a point of picking up a new greenhouse-reared, ready-to-bloom gardenia plant each year, mainly because they have had more promise of many blooms than the ones here, which have traditionally granted only about ten blooms each per season. The last few years, despite careful spraying for pests, some little caterpillar has been tunnelling through the tiny unopened gardenia buds and this either mutates each bud as it grows to full size, or causes it to not open at all.
This year, anticipating disaster again, I bought a new, ready-to-bloom gardenia plant - which has started performing well - but all of the other plants are covered with buds and flowers, too! Mind you, there've been some black caterpillars threatening to start munching but so far so good. (I squished one in the centre of his body the other day - and his brains shot right out of his head. If that's where a caterpillar keeps his brains.)
I'm also enjoying the development of this year's agapanthus blooms (but so far no action from my two Black Panthas), the gorgeous self-seeding portulacas, and the amazingly hardy pigfaces (first time this year) in their numerous colours.
Fingers crossed for a black pantha!
Sunday's magic number: 88.6 I'm so excited! It was a difficult week, watching a friend tuck into Krispy Kreme donuts when I had a skinny milkshake, and I even refused to partake of free Christmas cake at work. Sigh... I guess it's been worth it.