What a real mixed bag it has been weather wise this January. The relentless rains continued past New Year with a few sunnier days in between, a light dusting of snow and plummeting temperatures down to minus 5°C last weekend and as we approach the end of the month we are experiencing, what for Scotland, can only be described as a heatwave for this time of the year. Help ma boab! A high of 14°C this weekend.
The bird feeder I got from my nieces and nephew at Christmas holds a massive 5kg of seed. Much to the delight of the goldfinches. The only place strong enough to support it's weight is the archway. However, it does make manouvering around the garden a bit awkward. If I've walloped my head on it once, I've walloped it a hundred times! You never know it just might knock some sense into to me!
I have been able to get outdoors and do a bit here and there. Firstly there was the tidying up of the Hellebores. All bar 4 of my many hellebores are oriental hybrids (Helleborus x hybridus). Some named varieties and others not. All are treated the same here in my garden. Old, often tatty looking, foliage is removed at ground level to expose the new blooms for not only my enjoyment but to help any pollinator that just might be passing. Care needs to be taken not to damage emerging new growth. I would not normally consider doing this job until well into February or even March if it is particularly cold but not this year. Removing the old foliage is also a good way to help prevent hellebore leaf spot. I probably should have mulched at this time too but as I had used up all the mulch in autumn I had none to hand. A job for another day in the coming weeks. Some hellebores are left alone at this time of the year. The leathery foliage of the H. x ericsmithii are worth growing for their interesting foliage too. Granted they do look better when not dirty and rain splashed! You can see in this shot just how sodden the ground was at the beginning of the month. I have 3 different varieties - this one, H. x ericsmithii Pirouette is the first to flower this year. I used some old planks to manoeurvre through the borders. Trying my best not to compact the soil or damage emerging bulbs and plants.
|Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette|
|Foliage - Galanthus reginae olgae|
I am attempting to make my own leaf mould this year. I usually send them off the the council tip. A large bag was collected in autumn but there was still plenty of leaf litter around the garden. I raked up what I could and filled yet another bag. They will be stored round the back of the shed until they can be used. The RHS recommends storing them for up to 2 years. Some leaves make better leaf mould than other but since mine's is a mixture of many different species I have no idea how it will work out. The leaves were dampened down, not that they needed much dampening and holes punctured in the base of the bag with the garden fork.
In the cold frame the Euphorbia cuttings sent down to me from Frances @ Island Threads are doing well. My own attempts at taking Euphorbia cuttings have always resulted in failure. I thought Frances would like to see how well they are doing in my care. Thank you Frances.
|Euphorbia cuttings January 2016|
The witchhazel, Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena shimmers in the sun. It started blooming back in November and I worried that it may have peaked too soon. Apparently not! It continues to show of in the winter garden.
In the sunny front garden, Iris reticulata Pauline are blooming nice and early this year. They showed no signs of slowing up when the weather turned cold. It seems there was no holding Pauline back.
By no means perfect but a lovely little glimpse of summer in wintertime. The climbing Wedgewood Rose on the trellis.
With it's glossy evergreen leaves, shiny black berries and blooms just about to open Sarcacocca confusa ticks all the boxes when it comes to winter interest.
Another evergreen, the tight buds on this dwarf Skimmia are just as pretty as the open flowers I think. Full to bursting with springtime promise.
Galanthus elwesii Mrs MacNamara fully opened her buds in the warmth this weekend.
Galanthus Galatea is clumping up nicely here in my garden. A single bulb planted back in 2012 has produced quite a few off spring. Another few warm days should see these buds open.
In the front garden a few blooms remain on the winter flowering Jasmine growing against the fence. I think that by the end of this year it will be tall enough to tie into the trellis that tops the fence. It's such a pity to have so many blooms and yet no pollinators to enjoy them. Maybe they are about somewhere and I've just not seen them.
Emerging beneath one of the roses, I misidentified this plant in my previous post. I thought it was Corydalis solida Beth Evans but now I can see the colour of the blooms and on checking my records it is C. solida Purple Bird. A nice wee surprise this early in the year.
The Liriope in the front garden was halted by an early frost back in October. Whilst the blooms failed to open fully, they have remained on the plant to give the appearance that it is blooming.
This coming weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch I will free up an hour on either of the days to take part. Have you register yet?
One must not and should not forget that it is still very early in the year. The warmer temperatures could very easily fool us into thinking it is far later in the year than it actually is. The weather could and will more than likely take a turn for the worse at some point. Although I pay some attention to the forecasts I do tend to think that they can, at times, over exaggerate. How many times since the bad winters of 2009/10 have they predicted the worse winter ever!? I do though tend to err on the side of caution and try not to get too carried away. There are still some jobs I can be getting on with in February. I will at some point in February be on top of mulching the Hellebores and Snowdrops. I have a couple of bags of ericaceous compost so I can get on with mulching the acid loving shrubs. The climbing Leucothoe, although smothered with flower buds, is looking slightly chloritic. It is usually healthy enough without my interference. I wonder if that is a side effect of the terribly wet weather. I will pamper it a bit this year I think. The group 2 and 3 Clematis will be pruned too. Untangling all that dead growth is one of those jobs I don't particularly like but it needs to get done. Before things get going proper I need to get in early with the supports for the Peonies, Aconitums and the oriental Poppies. Lastly, tidying up the remainder of the perennials weather permitting, that is.
How are things in your garden this January? Are you ahead of the game? Perhaps things are ticking along just nicely. I wonder if other UK gardeners finding their gardens are leaps and bounds ahead of previous years. Have you much planned gardening wise in the coming few weeks? If you are getting outdoors this week do enjoy it and make the most of it.