A new month and a new year for my garden journal, and the cold wet and windy weather continues as before.
Muscari were the stars of the first page of this month, one of my favourite early bulbs. Over the last few years we have managed to find a few more unusual ones.
I began the year by writing, “January 2023, a new month and a new year in our Avocet garden. With our climate changing as it is, it is difficult to guess what this year will bring. the weather presented to us last year made gardening more difficult than ever before. The heavy rain and strong winds carried over from December into the first day of the new year. On the second we awoke to a bright dry day, the first for some time.
I took advantage of the break in the weather to plant the last spring bulbs, which is weeks late. We had several packs of muscari to plant, one of my favourite flowering bulbs. I started with a mixed pack called ‘Blueberries and Cream’ all 50 of them. Then I planted a white called ‘White Magic’, 30 pale-flowered ‘Valerie Finnis’ and finally35 bicoloured M. ‘latifolium’.”
Wildlife featured on the opposite page where I wrote, “Wildlife enlightens our patch at this time of the year, driven in by the weather and drawn in by the plants provided for it. Wildlife lifts the gloomiest of days through colour, movement and song. Blackbirds and their cousins the thrushes busily strip colourful berries from the trees and shrubs we grow especially for them. We regularly check stored apples and some are always damaged or show signs of rot. These are thrown onto lawns and borders. These birds soon finish them off with a little help from wood mice, voles and shrews.
The hedgehog feeding stations are visited very infrequently at this time of year. In milder periods they will go wandering to visit and enjoy the water and dry food we supply for them.
When working in the garden we come across worms near the surface , and also discover frogs of all ages and sizes on the move. Soon we should have spawn in some of the ponds.
Bird sounds change now, their calls becoming songs which are far more cheerful and uplifting. Also some birds begin to explore nestboxes and natural nest sites to ensure they get the best. Bluetits and robins have already taken possession of boxes.
When gardening we often find ourselves among flocks of birds, usually titmice and finches. I love being in the garden when a flock of long tailed tits arrive, surrounding me with gentle calls and beautiful colours. A group of these ‘lollipop birds’ is called a ‘Zephyr’, which means a soft gentle breeze – so apt!”
Over the page I feature catkins and on the opposite page I take a look at garden jobs we were involved in.
I noted,“January is the month when catkins appear on our betula and salix, birches and willows. In the countryside all around us hazels are dripping with their chartreuse coloured catkins.”
I then shared ten photos of some of our catkins. The top row shows Salix gracilistylus ‘Mount Aso’.
Next I shared two photos of a close relative of ‘Mount Aso’ called ‘Salix gracilistyla melanostachys’.
Then two photos of Betula albosinensis ‘Chinese Ruby’.
I will finish looking at catkins with three photos of another Betula, B. ‘Hergest’.
On the opposite page to these catkins was a page about working in the garden. I noted that, “Although January doesn’t often present us with decent gardening weather, we still wrap up warm and enjoy time outside! It is so good for us physically and mentally.”
We also cut down our old Prunus autumnalis which had died in the summer. We had our daughter Jo and her partner Ed to do the heavy work.
We can now turn over to two pages featuring trees with peeling bark, the first page being all betulas. I noted that, “Some of the ornamental trees we grow in our garden were chosen for their interesting bark, colour and texture. Betulas do this for us more than any other. But they also have another aspect of beauty for us to enjoy, peeling bark.”
Below; Betula albosinensis ‘Kanzu’.
Below; Betula albosinensis ‘China Ruby’
And below; Betula albosinensis septentrionalis
On the opposite page, the penultimate page for this month, I look at another two betulas with peeling bark plus a prunus that does the same.
Below; Betula ‘Hergest’
Below; Betula utilis jacquemontii ‘Snow Queen’
Below; The odd one out – Prunus serrula
So now we reach the final page for January which features more garden tasks. I noted that, “Whenever the weather allowed, which was very infrequent, we dressed up against cold and wet and spent time in the garden. We never knew what the weather would throw at us – rain, sleet, hail, snow, howling winds. Sometimes several of these would arrive on the same day.
We top dressed trees with shredded autumn leaves and finished off the board between the bark path and the gravel of the new eating area.
Jude planted some beautiful cyclamen given to us by gardening friends who came for lunch.
Ian cut down perennials in the Chicken Garden and we checked all tree stakes and ties.
All too soon January came to an end but hopefully it has taken the rotten weather with it.