Six on Saturday | Welcome the New Year

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Six on Saturday


  1. Dina says:

    All the spring bulbs looks very promising, Jude. Cley is grey and chilly today. Saw some cherry trees with lots of pink buds in Holt today. That shouldn’t be. We’re still hoping for a real winter with frost and some decent snow. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      There are some trees that do have blossom in winter. Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ bears flutters of white flowers throughout winter from November till Easter and Prunus subhirtella ‘Rosea’ is similar with soft pink flowers.

      1. Dina says:

        Thank you for making this clear to me, Jude. I was not aware of this. 🙂

  2. Hi – Happy New Year. Love your six, especially the black and white photo hellebore photo. Skimmia is a great container plant for the winter, mine is underplanted with dark red cyclamen. The ones I grew in pots in my last garden never had berries, but the large Skimmia bush in the front garden seemed to have white flowers and bright red berries at the same time all year round, clearly a different variety.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ooh, I like the idea of dark red cyclamen. My pot is full of weeds it seems from the photo. A trip to the garden centre is required I think.

  3. Good to see you back and the garden seems to look fine in spite of being wet and neglected! I hope it dries out soon , I dislike trudging through the mud as my wellies gather more and more clay! Those bulbs look very promising.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Aw, thank you Granny. Good to be back even though I didn’t think I’d have much to show. Fortunately I don’t have to tread on the mud as my ‘borders’ are raised and I have gravel / pebble paths. I can’t wait to see what bulbs appear first, everything is starting to poke through…

  4. I love the winter colour in your garden, especially the Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ and the corkscrew hazel. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Piglet. The hazel is certainly a feature in the winter months.

  5. It won’t be long and spring will definitely be showing herself in your garden. Even in the depths of winter it still looks beautiful.

  6. janesmudgeegarden says:

    A beautiful six, Jude. Seeing your carex reminds me that I need to do more about grasses for winter colour in my garden and your variegated one is especially attractive. Is that a tiny flower I see on your corkscrew hazel? I think so…Spring isn’t far off!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think the pink blob is possibly a leaf bud. Never get flowers on the tree unfortunately. This weather lulls us into a false security – February is well known for being our severest month.

  7. I love the hare sculpture, what a great present to give yourself. The Hebe colour is gorgeous. This week’s frosts have killed the last few flowers on my Hebe but, hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long for a new crop

    1. Heyjude says:

      At last! Someone who appreciates the hare! My neighbour has a Hebe in the courtyard (east-facing) which is covered in flowers already. I need to check on mine and see if there are any buds. This one is a very young cutting so I was surprised to see any flower this early.

  8. Just as well you’re a more meticulous writer than I am reader – I thought for one minute you’d buried the neighbour’s cat! As always I enjoy your pleasure in your garden, even in winter. A charm of goldfinches – what a lovely collective noun. And you’ve obviously built your garden to conditions so you can crunch on gravel instead of slush in mud. May warmer weather join you soon – we actually had two doonahs over us last night, and oddly parallel dreams. That was after a stinker of a day on Thursday.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I take it you are referring to my lovely hare!! And yes, the gravel does help me get around without sinking into the boggy lawn. Now planning on what to replace the rest of it with.

      1. No. Not to the hare. To this meticulously crafted and non-ambiguous -except to my lazy eye – sentence: “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”!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Haha! Oh, dear! No it is still alive. The cat. Not sure about the bulbs…

  9. cavershamjj says:

    I finally got around to getting some hellebores, been meaning to for a couple of years.white, like yours. Half price!

  10. I love your corkscrew hazel. I have grown one in a pot for several years and it has barely grown so I’ve liberated it and put it in the ground. I’m hoping it’ll romp away…

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