December is a gloomy month I think, though November is still my worst with the sudden shock of early evenings. Now we enter a new year and a new month. January’s days increase little by little and as I type this at 16:30 the sky is still light. Light grey I might add as the sun seems to have done a disappearing act. But still enough light to see the sheep in the opposite field as they scramble for the food just put down for them. Anyway after almost two months of not looking at my garden I have managed to take a walk around and see if anything is stirring. It is all very soggy though.
- On the front doorsteps I have several containers including this one with a Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ which seems to grow very slowly. I repotted it in the autumn and now it has lovely panicles of red buds which will open to fragrant white flowers in early spring. This must be a male plant as I have never seen any berries on it.
- Heading into the back garden now and a glimpse along the woodland border reveals the shy flower of one of my Helleborus niger plants – this one was grown from seed so I am quite proud of it. Commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, it is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae and is poisonous. I have no idea why it is called black hellebore though as the flowers are white or possible a pale pink. I have converted this photo to black and white because to be honest it is not a very good photo. The flower isn’t open yet and the white is overexposed; the leathery leaves are very obviously nibbled, but at least you can see the lovely veining in this conversion. Like all Hellebores Helleborus niger dislikes being moved once established, so should not be divided. I now need to go and remove the older leaves from my other plants so I can see the new flowers.
- Spring Bulbs. In the autumn of 2017 I planted some dwarf daffodils and other bulbs along the woodland border. There were already some dwarf yellow Narcissus, possibly ‘Tête á Tête’, so I planted some white ones. I am still amazed that these come up each year given how much rain we get. Other bulbs have been planted in some hexagonal terracotta pots that I aim to use for herbs eventually and they too seem to be surviving the wet.
- Under the Kilmarnock Willow which is already showing signs of new growth with tiny buds forming and even some pussy willow emerging I planted some snowdrops, winter aconites and more crocuses. On my wander I noticed a couple of bulbs on the surface of the soil – possibly dug up by the neighbours cat – which I have buried. They already have shoots so maybe they will produce a flower. But the flower making its first appearance this year is a Hebe. This is a cutting from a cutting and was planted here in the autumn. Only the one flower, but very noticeable.
- Next to the Kilmarnock Willow you may remember is a Corkscrew Hazel (Contorted Hazel?) which always looks best during the winter months when its twisty stems provide architectural structure to the garden. This year it has the most and longest catkins I have seen. Maybe my last-minute pruning in the autumn has spurred it on. Never seen a hazelnut though.
- And finally Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ a Sedge grass which I bought in 2017 and planted in the new gravel garden. Being evergreen the bright green and gold variegated leaves add some colour and interest to a winter garden.
Hopefully this is the beginning of some colour in the garden. I still have some plants that have been flowering since the summer, but definitely past their prime now. And the newest addition to the garden is the header – a lovely moon-gazing lying down hare that is my Christmas present to myself.
I am quite excited to see what appears in my garden this new year and I have a couple of projects up my sleeve for the warmer months. To see what is happening in other gardens both home and away then head off to the Prop’s site where you will find lots of links in the comments.
See here for the participant’s guide.