Six on Saturday | Mid January Edition

“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.

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

Six on Saturday


  1. bushboy says:

    Your garden is doing well Jude. Thanks for doing the hard work for us so we can enjoy your garden 😀

    1. Heyjude says:

      Haven’t done anything this last couple of months Brian and I really do need to get out and clear the dead iris leaves away.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What a lovely photo of the hellebore! Flat leafed ( we call it Italian here) self seeds all over my garden and is sometimes a nuisance, but at least I have a constant supply.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It seems to self-seed everywhere here too, but I don’t mind at all 🙂

  3. Even in the bleakest winter weather there are still some pretty plants and lovely colours to share with us. You’ve reminded me that I want to seek out some Japanese anemones. I must get on to that this week.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Winter finally hit here covering everything with first snow and now ice. At least we have an abundance of seed catalogs to keep us inspired.

    1. Heyjude says:

      At least the snow helps to get rid of pests! And browsing seed catalogues is such fun. I want far too many plants that I see!

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I am a sucker for the color photos in some catalogs.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Yes, they can be very tempting!

  5. Chloris says:

    The flat leaved parsley looks good. That’s interesting about wood ash getting rid of celandines, I never heard of that, I’ll give it a try. It’s turned really cold here too, I hate it.

    1. Heyjude says:

      You have the lesser celandines too? I think they are rather pretty, unlike the creeping buttercup which spreads everywhere.

  6. Tina Schell says:

    Ah Jude, how fun it must be to watch the fruits of your labor flourishing! I only wish I Lived near enough to see it in person (I do think the cat is very regal looking!)

    1. Heyjude says:

      The cat stares at me most disconcertingly. And now the bulbs are poking above ground I am getting excited to see the new flowers. Goodness knows how they grow considering all the rain we have had this winter so far!

  7. cavershamjj says:

    Lots going on in your garden Jude. I am a recent convert to hellebore. I’m trying to grow eryngium from seed, have failed for years. I persist…

    1. Heyjude says:

      Mmm… maybe I should give that a go, they are lovely plants and take up little room.

  8. Lucid Gypsy says:

    The other double is a bit more subtle!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I was going to ask “double what” when I realised you mean the double negative. Yes that one is easy to miss 🙂 Well done you!

  9. I’m amazed at all the work you put into your garden Jude – it must look lovely even in the depths of January. We used to have a lovely old black cat who lived to be nearly 19 so I’m cat fan but not when they make a nuisance of themselves in your garden. They also kill off native birds and fauna. Our current white and grey one is a indoor cat only (much kinder in the harsh summer heat) – fortunately the dog quite likes her!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I used to have cats myself and they lived to a good age too, but I wouldn’t get one at the moment as I like to attract the birds into the garden in the winter time. I just have to put up with the neighbour’s cat – and shoo her off my beds!

      1. Yes we certainly noticed the bird life coming back to our garden after our old cat passed away. By the end though she was so old they used to come and sit near her – she used to rest under an old lemon tree where we have a little memorial to her now. Our garden is now a haven for local birds and our current cat is kept indoors!

  10. n20gardener says:

    It was good to read to your comment on Mr P’s site re Hellebores. I might give it a go but I’m not sure I will have the patience! I tidied up my irises recently as they were beginning to put on new growth. It all happens so suddenly! Now we have snow.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I just planted some seeds in an old plant tray in ordinary compost and left outside tucked behind some pots. Pretty much every seed germinated.

      1. n20gardener says:

        I’ll be keeping watch for the seeds and will give it a go.

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