GARDENING IT IS now almost de rigueur in many gardens to have roses at Christmas time and beyond but the mildness, until the sprinkling of the white stuff a few days ago, had several unexpected bloomers.
At a time when my first wild primroses were showing, Ian Campbell e-mailed me with another example of the seasons being out of kilter.
"This is bordering on the bizarre," he said.
He sent me a photo of the flower of a cup and saucer plant (cobaea scandens), which he assured me he took on the morning of January 14 in his Gurnard garden.
A second image shows more flowers in formation and that the plant is actually fruiting too.
"Although cobaea scandens is a perennial in its natural habitat, it is normally grown here as an annual in temperate Europe.
"It will take temperatures down to 0C for short periods but I have never known one survive the winter months as vigorously as this one," Ian said.
Cobaea scandens is sometimes called cathedral bell — a vigorous vine, which is a native of tropical America, where it grows as a strong woody perennial.
Over here it is best grown in large pots for standing outdoors in summer, and will behave as a perennial if kept indoors in winter at about 7C (45F). It is best kept in a container.
The RHS said in a very mild winter plants may survive and remain virtually evergreen but they are usually grown as annuals on a wall, fence or pergola.
Plants have a tropical appearance, with lush foliage and 8cm (3in) flowers with prominent stamens.
Once fully open, they are sweetly fragrant.