Reading of predictions in the press of another hard winter forecast for 2011‐12, it made me think of last year's horticultural losses at my garden in Pwll. As well as growing plants that are bird, bee, butterfly and other insect‐friendly, I have tried some more exotic fare, all of which had seemed to be of reasonable potential to grow after the spell of many mild winters that we hitherto had experienced – something that has changed with the last two winters! Last winter, I lost my beloved red‐flowered Embothrium coccinium ('Chilean fire‐bush'), though they survived in the more sheltered Stradey Woods, whilst my large Crinodendron hookerianum ('lantern tree'), although it ultimately survived, lost most of its terminal buds including potential flowers (it has marvellous carmine waxy‐textured bells). My tree ferns, in spite of protection, lost most of their ‘crozier buds’ resulting in far less fronds this spring whereas in previous winters they had even remained green all though the winter. I also lost my Hebe x scillionensis a low, very floriferous insect‐friendly bush that I had grown from a cutting from one that grew at the main entrance at Penclacwydd Visitor Centre. Grevillea 'Canberra gem', a species from Australia, surprisingly survived unscathed, as did narrow‐leaved bottle brushes Callistemon spp. My mimosa Acacia dealbata was 'burnt' by the cold, but 'pulled through'. These losses, especially when combined with the cull suffered the previous year, which killed other species/varieties, has made me think what I should grow – perhaps I shall now stick with more hardy types!

Footnote: In late January 2012 the weather continued to be very mild with Fuschias and Pelargoniums ('Geraniums') still in flower outside, and some early spring flowers (such as lesser celandines and primroses) already flowering. This was a great contrast to the previous two winters, though hard frosts in early February affected some plants.