Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Close Look at the January Garden

I was really rather amazed to discover that there is quite a lot of life and beauty out there in the garden this month. You just have to look closely and ignore the dead stuff.

Three Sarcococca in the back garden are starting to size up and smell delicious!

If you grow it, you know, but if you don't, I wish I could send you some of this lovely scent

They're covered in new flowers and last year's berries, both at the same time.

My 'Jelena' witch hazel is also covered in blooms

They remind me of spiders

Honeysuckle is already starting to leaf out

Flowers on my 'Red Majestic' Corylus

The wild filbert to which it is related has similar flowers

Cyclamen coum has started flowering

Not everything is brown and dead, this little corner is still green, although soon I am going to have to cut back the Hellebore and Epimedium foliage

Spiny Epimedium and maidenhair fern make great companions

Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Edible rhubarb is popping up

One somewhat chewed Hellebore, past its prime

Looks like I'll have plenty of garlic to cook with next year

Old Monarda seedheads are starting to fall apart -- or maybe have been torn apart by birds

A funky fungus popped up in this bed in the fall and is starting to look a bit like petrified wood

The neighbor's demented cat Lucy has found a warm spot beside the greenhouse in the brief afternoon sun

She looks like such a sweetie, doesn't she?

Don't you believe that "I'm adorable" act for a second -- Lucy is short for Lucifer

She'll let you pat her for a bit, but when she's had enough, she'll turn on you in a nanosecond and try to rip your hand off. In fact, the whole time I was taking her picture, she was growling like a stray who thinks you're going to steal her food. She's probably also left me a few stinky treasures buried in the soil somewhere. You may have noticed the bamboo skewers mixed with the garlic in the photo above, that's to deter the neighborhood cats.

We've been getting just a touch of frost the last few nights, as the temp goes down to just freezing, 32 degrees F., and then barely reaching into the high 40s by mid afternoon, which is just a little too cold for me to be out there working for long. I'm making slow progress cutting back the dead,  brown foliage and seedheads, but then, some of them -- like the Monarda above -- are actually rather pretty.

Are you getting out in your garden?


  1. I was going to ask you about the bamboo skewers!
    Some real delights there Alison. Sarcococca is just starting to open properly here and releasing its scent. It's cold too. I really should get out there, if only to chop the hellebore leaves back.

  2. With all those new growth and lush greenery it looks so springlike in your garden already Alison! Getting out a bit during the weekend but not so much during weekdays as it's still dark.

  3. Sarcococca has such a great fragrance! You've got a lot going on outside and your garden looks great! Your story about Lucy is funny. I've met cats like that before. Haven't been out working in my garden yet but it definitely needs some attention!

  4. Your garden looks so green and already shows signs of spring, I love it. I planted 3 Sarcococcas in the garden last year, but helas no flowers yet.

  5. Every day there's a new little indication of spring coming.

    It's bad enough to deal with one's own pets without the neighbors' gang hanging around.

  6. Looking good, Alison! I guess winter is the time for close ups of our plants, which is fitting…a little more introspective. Beautiful….!

  7. Bamboo skewers in the seedling beds. What a great idea.

  8. Every year when I see your 'Jelena' I vow to add one...maybe this time.

  9. My neighbor asked me what in the world smelled so good. What he smelled was my Sarcococca. Every garden should have at least one, IMO. Jelena is gorgeous, and you have so many other lovelies too. I love the photos of the Monarda seed heads - beautiful!

  10. This is my garden hiatus time. Tom has been out pruning, keeping the yard waste bins full. This week I've been working on cleaning all my kitchen cupboards. I'd rather be gardening, I think.

  11. Your garden looks as though it's anxious for the arrival of spring, Alison, as I'm sure you are. I do NEED to get some Sarcococca - I think it would be great in my new shade area but I rarely see it in the local nurseries. I've been hard at work in my garden but then we're in the middle of yet another warm spell.

  12. You have lots of lovely flowers, your witch hazel is stunning and yes, the perfume from sarcococca is to die for!
    We have managed to get into the garden on the few days when it hasn't been raining. We have made a start cutting back all the brown dead bits and it all looks so much better already.

  13. My sister has a Satan cat, too.
    I haven't even been out to check my sweet box. I usually bring a branch or two in, but the smell will just about knock ya over.
    Perfected camera angles or not, your yard looks way more cleaned up than mine!

  14. Some parts of my garden are dotted with bamboo canes for the exact same reasons Alison.
    Wish I could smell your Sarcococca, I can't smell mine! I can't get a scent from it at all.
    Your January garden is looking great Alison, a credit to all your effort.
    I used to have a rather angry cat like Lucy, so know exactly where you are coming from.

  15. I love Sarcococca! It's good to see signs of spring somewhere. I have a couple more months of winter at the least, unless I manage to relocate to a warmer climate.

  16. Sarcococca is wonderful, isn' t it? Have you tried sowing the black seeds?
    And Jelena is such a gorgeous colour. You like the same winter plants as I do. It' s such an exciting time in the garden.

  17. Your sweetbox looks so pristine. Jelena looks fantastic. I have a seedling of Jelena; it has yellow flowers and is very fragrant.

  18. Look at your garden blooming Alison. I love to see so much blooming and green as opposed to my white garden. Although I know my garlic is growing under the snow.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.