colours garden design garden photography gardening grasses hardy perennials ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography shrubs Winter Gardening winter gardens

A January Bouquet


Think of January in the garden. Could you put together a bouquet? This is my new monthly garden blogging challenge, and starting in January most certainly throws me in at the deep end. But here goes…………………

Here are the first couple of pages of my sketch pad for the new year.

sketchpad 1

DSC_0001 sketchpad 2

In this cold month colourful flowers can be used to create a bouquet, but you can also experience and enjoy a bouquet of scents.

So firstly what is delighting us with colour?

The rather inappropriately named Prunus x subhirtella autumnalis, with blossom of the palest pink, stunning against a pure blue sky.


The perennial wallflower, Erysium Bowles Mauve flowers in almost every month of the year, but is very special in January.

DSC_0017bg DSC_0016

The first flowering bulb of the year is the Winter Aconite, Hyemalis, with its buttercup flowers close to the ground. The Flowering Quince, Chaenomales greets visitors to “Avocet” with its bright sun-set red flowers giving a warm welcome alongside the gate post at the bottom of the drive. The Cornelian Cherry, properly called Cornus mas dominates the “Freda Border” at the top of the drive. It is covered from head to toe with bunches of acid yellow umbels. They are little nuggets of gold.

DSC_0024bgt DSC_0029de DSC_0001bh

White is appreciated more in the dark days of winter. The pussy willow’s furry white blooms huddle along the black stems of our Violet Willow by the wildlife pond. As grasses reach their end, prior to me pruning them back to the ground, their flower heads are white and silver.

DSC_0031ds DSC_0022

And who keeps us warm with their scent in the cold? Sarcoccoca, Witch Hazels, Viburnum and the first Daphne of the year Daphne bhuloa “Jacqueline Postil”. She glows pink, a unique pink with hints of blue and violet. Her scent is mesmerizing.

DSC_0011bg DSC_0013bgDSC_0014bg DSC_0030

Jaqueline Postil – what a beauty and what expensive perfume she wears.



DSC_0007 DSC_0010  nhy

But think of January blooms and we must not forget the first Hellebores.

DSC_0006 DSC_0008

birds garden wildlife gardening hardy perennials trees wildlife

Agapanthus – a plant for winter?

On my early morning wander down to feed the chucks today I was accompanied by the usual Robin who followed me, flying from post to post down the fence line stopping off to treat me to a burst of his gentle transparent winter song. He does this every day except when the rain is torrential when he never shows. If I take the grass path past the slate bed, the Secret Garden and the Chicken bed he takes the fence route, but if I take the concrete central path he flies along the cordon pears and plums stopping to sing on each tree. Today was different for I had the added benefit of the first song this winter from the Song Thrush. The first signs of true territorial song mapping out his patch and letting others know. Sadly recently he just sings for us for there seem few rival males to want his territory. Here in Plealey we seem to have far more Mistle Thrushes than Song Thrushes.

As usual I wandered around the garden to see what was happening and today felt warmer so a slow aimless wander was on the cards. I was impressed by the Prunus subhirtella autumnalis, the centre piece of our little Japanese Garden, which is littered with its delicate white blooms. And at last new spears of bulb leaves have made their way to the surface to show us their intent. But a plant that struck me as an unusual “winter interest” plant was the Agapanthus.

Agapanthus, a striking summer flowering plant, is growing in our “Chatto Garden”, a gravel bed we made after visiting Beth Chatto’s wonderful garden and being struck by her gravel garden created on her old car park. When there we bought a few agapanthus and on our gravel bed we grew a deep dark blue flowering variety. I wrote two earlier blogs about the amazing buds and how they open. ( see “Bud Burst” published in July 2011 and “Bud Burst Part 2” published in August 2011.)

Now in December it is still giving interest on our “Chatto Garden”, but not blue this time but the absolute opposite – a rich yellow. The foliage and stems are yellow and the seed heads are like delicate sculptures.

Until now I had not considered the Agapanthus to be a plant for winter interest. They always say that a good gardener is one who never stops learning!