I imagine I am not alone in finding January the least appealing month of the year. Although this year it has been mild by comparison to some, the short days and cool weather make it all feel like a bit of a struggle. Like many keen gardeners, and especially those with an allotment, there is also the massive impatience of wanting to get on and sow some seeds for the forthcoming season. Frustrating though it is, I know from experience there is little to be gained from giving in to that impatience. Instead, this time of year is all about planning and preparation.
Although January is a pretty quiet month in the garden, there can still be features to enjoy. This blog includes twenty images from our own tiny garden capturing a few of the details that have caught my eye in January 2020.
Our Tiny Garden
The garden as a whole looks a little sparse, but I am please with a few of the plants I have added in recent years to add some structure and interest at this time of year.
An aspect of Winter that is a particular joy is the amazing colours at sunrise and sunset, which of course we are all the more able to experience because of the shorter days. The silhouettes of deciduous trees shorn of their leaves really sets off a dramatic sky, and we are fortunate to have many beyond the border of our garden.
In the Winter when flowers are scarce, the leaves of plants can really become the focus of attention. I have been pleased with the effect created by repeat plantings of Carex ‘Ice Dance’ through our two borders, particularly given they were originally a single plant split six ways. Bargain!
Other evergreen plants have also provided interest with their foliage, like the dinner plate sized leaves of Fatsia japonica and the dark rosette of Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae.
Variegated leaves such as the long straps of Carex ‘Ice Dance’ and dense thicket of Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’ also provide an attractive feature.
Many plants take on extra character with a dusting of frost on a cold morning such as the crinkly leaves of Scabiosa incisa ‘Kudo’ and the narrow spikes of Verbena bonariensis.
There is little I enjoy more than watching wild birds visiting our tiny city garden. We provide food for birds all year round, but it is in Winter that they really come to rely on this and so it can be a great time to spend a few minutes gazing out of the window. We get House Sparrows, Robins, and various types of Tit visiting every day, but at different times I’ve also seen a Dunnock, a Wren, even Bullfinches on the odd occasion.
Flowers: Past, Present and Future
The seed heads of last summer’s plants can provide quite an attractive feature during the Winter so it pays not to be too trigger happy with the secateurs in the Autumn.
Top: Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Autumn Bliss’; Bottom: Some sort of Sedge!
Early in the year flowers are pretty scarce which makes the arrival of the Hellebores later on in January all the more welcome.
The promise of flowers yet to come is also delivered tantalisingly by the deep red buds of Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’.
Finally, in January, particularly the milder versions we are experiencing increasingly often, there’s the joy of new shoots to provide that little frisson of optimism to keep us all going.
You can see what came next in February 2020 here.
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