It has been a very quiet January in our garden.As 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.
Any 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.
Besides 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.