“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it” ~ John Burroughs
January is a month full of little changes, barely noticeable from a general glance through the window. Although the weather appeared to be in the doldrums, it is now becoming more wintry with even plummeting temperatures forecast for my part of the west country. Fleece and bubble wrap to the rescue! I do still need to weed the raised beds and clear the debris from last year’s dead irises and Japanese Anemones, but they are jobs that are going to have to wait for a dry and warmer day. I am going to rejig the raised beds anyway so will probably remove everything before new planting in the spring. Until then I shall enjoy the self-seeded Forget-me-nots and whatever else makes its presence known.
- Talking about the raised beds I have noticed that the Chives ‘Cha Cha’ are already well on their way, hope they don’t get too settled as I want to move them into the other bed. These chives have an unusual flower not unlike the wild Babington’s Leek (Allium ampeloprasum) a native perennial herb which grows up to 2 metres.
- Also in this bed is an Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’ that was quite late to put on any growth last year. One plant grew well and ‘flowered’ but this one held back and then put on a spurt in the autumn, I wasn’t expecting any colour from it, but here it is in January and still shining a silvery-blue.
- A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to one of my Helleborus niger plants commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, in bud. This week that bud has opened into a lovely saucer-sized flower and there are several more buds on this and the parent plant. I have cut away all the old blackened leathery leaves and look forward to seeing more of these lovely flowers. I checked in my garden diary as to when they previously flowered as I thought they were earlier than this, but no, in 2017 it was January and last year, February. So they are pretty much ‘on time’.
- Another plant doing well in the raised herb bed is flat-leaved parsley ‘Gigante di Napoli’ . This is one herb that I use often, although being this far away from the house makes it a hassle to cut when it is raining. Luckily I have some which self-seeded in to the Skimmia pot which is now outside the front door. This year I shall attempt to grow parsley in a pot outside the conservatory door! I also noted that it had self-seeded in the cracks of my paving near the raised beds. Be interesting if they grow into usable plants.
- Along the ‘Woodland border’ next to the barn is a winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) a fragrant winter flowering shrub with creamy-white flowers which appear on almost leafless branches. It is a difficult plant to photograph! In the summer months it is a boring shrub and this one is quite old and unruly. I do keep cutting out branches to try to get it into some sort of respectable shape, but by doing this I probably remove the flowering branches. It flowers on wood grown the previous summer so shouldn’t be pruned after May really and ideally at the end of March or early April. And I think it might prefer a sunnier wall to get the best out of it. I don’t notice any discerning perfume unless I sniff quite close to the flowers. I’m still debating whether to try to remove it and grow something that is much prettier there, but I have a feeling the roots will be a devil to remove.
- The last one this week is my little red patio rose which grows in a pot. I repotted it last summer as it had been in the same pot for several years and wasn’t doing very well. Since then it has flowered its little heart out and is still showing new buds. I doubt these will open as the weather is due to get colder next week, but I can’t not admire her fortitude. (And yes I do realise that is a double negative, the second in this post – we could have a competition to see who can find the other one – no prizes though!!)
Under the Kilmarnock Willow where I planted some snowdrops, winter aconites and more crocuses I have at last noticed some leaves appearing. The greyish ones I think belong to some snowdrops and the fresh green ones to crocuses. I have forgotten which ones I planted here as I wrote several down that I liked the look of. I know there are purple ones as they have popped up each year, but the others will be a nice surprise. And Ranunculus ficaria, the lesser celandine, which has tiny kidney-shaped leaves beneath its golden flowers has come to the surface again. Monty Don classes it as a weed in the border (along with bluebells) and it has the odd habit of its leaves dying back after flowering, deceiving the gardener into believing it has gone away while it is merely coiled for further invasion in late winter. It seems to stay put under my tree so I let it be as I quite like the bright yellow star-shaped flowers which will shortly appear, but if you have some and want to be rid of apparently wood ash works. I shall introduce you properly when she flowers.
Signs of life in the garden, but winter is not yet over. 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.
The header this week is the neighbour’s cat – or a witch’s familiar – she loves to use my flower beds as her toilet so I am not a fan.
See here for the participant’s guide.