January Gold

After a dull and wet start to the weekend, Sunday dawned crisp and sunny.

Verbascum leaf backlit by January sunshine

The sunlight threw the garden’s structures into relief, great and small, from tree branches to the veins on illuminated leaves.

Despite a hectic schedule, I managed to slip into the garden for a few hours, to weed beneath our young beech hedge across the front garden. As I dug out clumps of coarse grass, small nettles and spurges that crept around the feet of the beechlings, I was careful to work around the clusters of green points piercing the ground where the snowdrops were pushing up their noses.

Backlit leaves of Dierama in January

As I worked my way across the hedge, along whose length I planted out small clumps of snowdrops last year, these clusters of gentle green promise petered out until I reached the far side. I pondered whether they were still working their way to the surface, a few millimetres behind their neighbours, or lost to the ground. Time will tell.

Narcissus Rijnveld's Early Sensation mid-January

Rijnveld's Early Sensation daffodils in bloom, January

The early daffodils along the narrow front borders continue to captivate with their golden glory, while around them the tips of later varieties of narcissus and other bulbs are still hardly breaking the surface. With the sleeping hedge tidied up once more, I gave a cursory tidy-up to these borders too, before turning my attentions to the back garden once more.

Daffodil Rijnveld's Early Sensation

I carefully threaded through the borders with my trowel and bucket, digging out some of the weeds that have continued to flourish in the milder weather. The fat buds on the hybrid hellebores are still full of promise, while the subtle pale green flowers of Helleborus argutifolius continue to dance above its serrated leaves.

Hellebore bud

As I bent to investigate the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, I found another fat bud that had been part-eaten to reveal the tender white petals folded within. Time to find some slug defences perhaps, if I wish to enjoy these flowers; one of the trickier hellebores to establish in the garden, it seems to have settled in pleasingly well, besides this predation.

Pulmonaria flower, pink

Nearby, the primroses are still speckled with gentle yellow flowers, and a smattering of blooms on the pulmonarias range from pinks (as pictured) to blues. These are mostly unnamed plants, that have already dotted their way around the border in just one or two winters since I planted seedlings from my Mum’s garden out. On the patio, a more recent gift of P. ‘Blue Ensign’ showed a trio of lovely violet-blue flowers, and I shook it from its pot and found it a space in the border where I hope it will establish and spread like its bi-coloured siblings.

Faith sleeping before the fire

The light was beginning to ebb from the sky by the time I had planted this out, and I gathered up my tools and returned to the warmth of the fire indoors, accompanied by the cats that had been racing around me as I worked all afternoon.

I treasure these snatched opportunities to reacquaint myself with the garden each weekend, to observe as life returns to the soil, before another week where the garden is glimpsed by the light of the moon and the stars at either end of the working day. Already I look forward to seeing what changes next weekend may reveal.

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21 thoughts on “January Gold

  1. Sara, I always enjoy the way you describe things. Your writing style really is very fine. You can make a fairly ordinary task sound like a magical occasion! Not that your early daffodils are ordinary, of course…

  2. Snatched moments in the garden on a warm winter’s day are a pleasure beyond price. thanks for sharing yours with such a vivid description. Christina

  3. Although I am fortunate these days (and it’s rare that a day goes by without me expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of retirement) not to be restricted to weekends for enjoying the garden, I still have to remember to grab windows of opportunity like last Sunday and even the odd hour in the last few days to catch up on those outstanding little jobs outside, as well as studying progress and making plans. I can just about manage an hour on these recent bitter days before my fingers and toes start complaining – but I am so glad to have taken part in that rearranging of bones. Good luck with your Blue Ensign – I love the combination of its blueness and greenness!

    • Oops the picture was just of one of the species pulmonarias, not Blue Ensign. I’m still to capture a picture of that one – much bluer than these. It makes a lovely contrast though, you’re right.
      It is satisfying to get outside at the minute, especially when it’s chilly.

      • Yes, I assumed that, as I think ‘Blue Ensign’ is devoid of spots, is it not? I moved mine in as part of the scheme of things last year and am hoping it picks up again soon – can’t remember seeing much of it last year. I have a feeling is spreads sideways rather than self seeding, but I may be wrong.

        • Yes – spotless indeed. I just suddenly thought my post may have been ambiguous, if you weren’t familiar with Blue Ensign! Mine is a small plant – and I think you’re right, that it it won’t spread by seed like its cousins. I’ll have to get busy dividing it if it settles in a few years, to propagate it about the garden myself.

  4. It was far too damp and cold for me this weekend to garden and the coming weekend looks like it will be snowy, will have to dig out the gardening books to get a fix

  5. Yours is the first garden I have seen daffodils in – they really are early aren’t they – mine are only just showing through the soil.

  6. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a few hours of precious weekend sun. I hope you find that the far end snowdrops are just teasing you, and will show up and join the party in due course.

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