January Review

It has been a very quiet January in our garden.The back garden, end of JanuaryAs the month draws to a close, the temperatures hover just above freezing. A day of falling snow yesterday has left no trace upon the ground, although ice has formed a crust on top of containers that hold rainwater, including the wheelbarrow that we use to transfer firewood between stores.

Frozen rainwater in bottom of wheelbarrowAny changes have been gentle ones: spears of green appearing around the edges of the new borders, where I planted masses of bulbs in the autumn; the first dozen snowdrop flowers hanging from the tips of some of these; pink and blue flowers appearing on pulmonarias. In the first few days, we did a little work tidying the patio, and sowing a few early seeds; during the month the autumn raspberry canes have been cut down and there have been a few unseasonal sessions of weeding.

In the new sparse borders in the front garden, the wallflowers are lush and green, thin threads of crocus leaves and the stockier shoots of narcissi have begun to push upwards and form gentle buds already, and despite the recent plummet in temperatures, a bud on one of the old roses that we potted and transplanted here from the original garden continues to shyly open.

Rose bud unfurling end of JanuaryBesides a few bouts of weeding, the majority of the borders have changed little this month. I have cut down some of the perennial grasses and lightly mulched their crowns to protect them, but have left gaura, penstemon, hydrangeas and sedum standing untouched by secateurs until the winter is well and truly over. Who knows what the next month or two will bring? The scent of snow is still strong upon the wind.

field border at end of JanuaryThe garden has been truly stripped back to bare bones this winter: in the years to come the young Hamemelis ‘Diane’, Sarcococca hookeriana plants and winter honeysuckle should add more structure, colour and scent to our winter garden, as the dogwoods grow bigger and more vivid and we add more shrubs and evergreens.

End of January border, stepping stones through grass

Up by the greenhouse, sheltered pots shield the tiny dark seedlings of Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing and vivid green shoots of Allium christophii, both sown last summer and left to the elements, where the fluctuating temperatures have broken their dormancy. I love these symbols of hope for the year to come.

Allium christophii seedlings

The two larger beds in the kitchen garden are scarcely populated: a few chard plants have stood through the winter so far and we continue to crop the inner leaves, while the outer ones are splashed with mud, and have been pulled towards the ground by the tentative clutches of our few frosts. Rows of autumn-sown garlic and broad beans stand solemnly at the top. The other bed, out of shot, still has leeks, cabbage and kale standing.

Kitchen garden, end of January This has not been a month for dramatic changes, but slowly, gently, the first signs of spring have been unfurling, and the weeks to come should begin to accelerate now towards the growing season waiting ahead.

Thanks to the patient gardener for hosting this monthly review of the garden.

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11 thoughts on “January Review

  1. Well done for posting, Sara. Your place looks as cold as mine! I’m really struggling to find things to write about at the moment. I’m hoping against hope that the snow will stay away as I’m going walking in Yorkshire soon. Eeek. For 10 days. Eeek.

    • Very cold here indeed. Brrrr. Harder to find posts at this time of year when everything is so slow – mind you, I have several in mind, and no time to write them!
      Heh. I hope you’re not camping – in the snow!

  2. We had wet snow yesterday, the first snow of the winter and it s bitterly cold today. I put on several layers and had a wander up to the plot and tried to imagine it in a few months time. I find my patience tested at this time of year, wanting to get on and do things but held back by the weather. Like you I love seeing those first seedlings pushing through.

    • Here too, wet snow fell all day yesterday. Several inches settled a few miles from us, but here it vanished without trace. It is bitterly cold though, my feet are particularly chilly! I don’t like the permanent wet at this time of year, that makes it hard to get out in the garden without doing damage, especially with our clay soil. Roll on spring!

  3. Your words ” The scent of snow is still strong upon the wind” made me smile Sara. I bumped into a friend today and we both commented that we could smell snow in the air but its sniffability does not seem to be universal. As it turned out we had a few almost but no quite flakes. It’s heartwarming to see new growth but I think we have a fair bit of wintery weather to come. I closed my cold frame earlier for the first time this winter. I knew that there was something that I had forgotten and you have reminded me – prune the autumn raspberry canes. Thanks for such a timely reminder.

    • I agree that we are likely to experience more wintry weather ahead, it is very early still and until recently it has been so very mild. The thought prevents me from cutting back the last standing perennials and shrubs too early.
      Glad that I reminded you of something useful! 🙂

  4. That’s great that you’ve been successful with Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing. It was an outstanding plant in our garden last year. I’m hoping that it will have self seeded. I have already cut back the Gaura. I was in a tidy up mode and didn’t realise until I had cut it. One of our penstemons has had a lot of wind damage so the secateurs came out.

    • I sowed the Anthriscus seed mid-summer (a little late, really) and then my impatience got the better of me at the Crocus open day, and I bought one too (foliage only) which is planted in the garden. The dark leaved seedlings then appeared towards the end of last year in the tray which I stood beside the greenhouse. So this year we should have several! Lovely plants though, they really grabbed my attention at the Malvern show last spring. I hope that yours self-seeds; they’re supposed to be pretty free-seeding in their shortish lives.

  5. I have gotten that whiff of snow upon the wind, but it turned out to be only a dusting or nothing at all. I do wish we would get at least one blast of snow before winter is over. With this warmer weather, I am not sure that will happen. Like you, my kale and chard are still doing very well…been picking it here and there for soups and salads.

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