It’s mid-January, the Christmas decoration is back in its boxes, the crocuses and snowdrops are flowering and it is 6 weeks and 3 days till we officially have spring here in London. Yay! As usual, in my garden we start a bit earlier with things, the first hellebores and snowdrops have been flowering since before Christmas and the first crocus started flowering last week. I have daffodils in bud and Iris reticularis well above ground. And my two camellias are continuing to give me the occasional flower. Yes, everything is normal in my January garden. The temperature has been more ‘normal’ so far this winter compared to last year, but last winter was unusually mild. Despite that, so far I have only had two nights just about below freezing and this week’s ‘very cold’ weather here in UK is probably not going to bring my garden below freezing – although it will be close.
Let me start in the front garden today, the plants in the boxes are plumping up and starting to flower. I bought all these plants as plugs to save a bit of money so some are still going to need a bit time to look great.
I just love these Primula vulgaris rosebuds, such a sight on a bleak January day!
I bought them as a mix of colour so I am not sure yet what I will end up with.
I also have a mix of Bellis perennis 'Belle' which now are starting to flower.
The Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' growing in the container has unusually many catkins this winter, perhaps because we had such a good summer last year.
They are not flowering properly yet but it’s not long till these tassels will look like chain of pearls.
My back garden looks green, but with many opens spaces. It looks so much bigger than in the summer and autumn! The ‘empty’ spaces are not exactly empty, there are spring bulbs and herbaceous plants on their way up every available little space, and soon you won’t be able to see the bark mulch at all.
My nursery shelves are bursting, and I haven’t even sown any seeds yet!
The sunny side of the garden has got furthest with the spring bulbs, here the hyacinths are well out of ground, some daffodils are in bud and some of the snowdrops have been flowering for a while.
And here the first crocus is in flower. There will be many, many more to come, depending on how many the squirrels will have for lunch before then. They don’t just eat the bulbs, they also eat the crocus shoots, right before the crocuses are about to open. So annoying!
And here is a snowdrop for you, a newcomer in my garden, not fully open for today though. It is Galanthus elwesii 'Maidwell L'.
When I re-designed my garden in 2011 and got rid of the lawn and made the flowerbeds much bigger, my plan was to not have plants in containers and pots anymore, only have them in the ground ‘as I had got so much more space’. Clearly that hasn’t really worked....
The lovely Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata is in flower again, I need to find a permanent space for this daphne, poor thing is still living in a pot.
And I have roses even though it is January. But this is probably the last time you will see this rose on my blog, Rosa ‘Freedom’ has been a trooper to flower for the 10 years I have had it, but I am fed up with the blackspot so it is time to say goodbye to it. I have 4 roses currently living in containers and they are getting big and would rather like to live in the ground instead so for 2015 I have big plans for the rose area. After all, it is 4 years since last time I did major things to my garden, I am getting restless and need to make some changes. All in good time :-)
My two camellias are continuing to give me flowers, a few at the time. At the moment ‘Takanini’ has none fully open, but the Grand Dame in the garden, the old, huge camellia has one flower – really early for this one.
And I just had to post a photo of this cyclamen, the colour is really lovely, I will let it set seed at the end of the season so it can hopefully make some babies like this :-)
The Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold' is not yet in flower, but it’s not long till, a few more days and the first ones will be open.
It’s down at the bottom of my garden there is most to see at this time of year, although at first glance you don’t really see much interesting at all.
But walk a bit closer and a wall of sweetly scented perfume is hitting you, the sarcococcas are flowering! In the corner is Sarcococca confusa, growing to 2m tall it can grow in many situations, even in dense shade. Next to it is Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, growing to about 1.5m.
Both Sarcococcas are evergreen and forms a backdrop for other plants the rest of the year, but at this time of year they are the stars in the garden. I can smell the scent as I start walking down the path! Here are the flowers of Sarcococca confusa.
And this is Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna close up.
Lower down, the hellebores make up in amazing looks for what they don’t have in scent. This is Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine'
This is my double white spotted Helleborus hybridus, soon to open its flowers.
And this is always the early bird of the hellebores, a single white spotted Helleborus hybridus.
Maybe some of you have spotted that I haven’t showed you any fuchsias this time? That’s not because I didn’t have any, up until last week I had lots of fuchsia flowers still but I have cut them down, the last ones today, all of them. ALL OF THEM. Why? Well, there’s some sad news in my garden, it turns out some of my fuchsias have got the dreaded Fuchsia Gall Mite (Aculops Fuchsiae), I have had a visit from an inspector from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, former FERA) and sadly it was confirmed last week that I indeed have FGM in my front garden. I have 59 fuchsias in total in my garden, some growing in the ground but most in pots and containers and that’s not included all the cuttings I had, which I now have thrown away. The infestation was only showing in my front garden so I have high hopes that I can manage to contain it, treat it and get rid of it, but I won’t really know if it’s been successful until about this time next year I guess. Very little is known about FGM in Britain so advice is sparse and conflicting. My only consolation at the moment is that those pesky mites only like fuchsias, so none of my other plants are in any danger – that’s something at least!
I still don’t know where I got the infestation from, it is either from fuchsias I have bought from nurseries or it was brought here by birds, insects or squirrels. I will write more about this topic later on when I know more and have got further with treatment – which is going to be long and hard work. Getting clued up about this topic has proved a steep learning curve too, but I have got good help from the inspector, we sat in my kitchen and had a chat for several hours – it’s so good it is possible to get help like this. All I wanted when contacting them was to get an email address to send my photos to so I could get confirmed what I suspected – and then they offered to send an inspector home to me! They are going to contact the nurseries I got my fuchsias from the last 2 years and see if the FGM came from any of them, results from that will be interesting to see. It will be much easier to deal with this if it came from a nursery, because if the source of infestation is nearby and was brought here by insect, bird or mammal it won’t really help if I get rid of it, my fuchsias could just get infested again and again. But I will do my best for now and fingers crossed, it will work.
I have been cutting down fuchsias for days, one after the other, with a heavier and heavier heart, all those lovely flowers just gone in rubbish bags. I couldn’t even send it to the council composting, had to be double bagged and go in the normal bin so not to risk spreading the infestation. On the left side here you can see what my fuchsias look like now, just a row of short twigs, nearly half of these were still in flower last week and all of them had leaves. Oh well, it’s good we are in January and not mid-summer, hopefully they will all look fine by the time we get to July, all 59 of them!
That was all for today, sorry to end on a rather sad note, I suppose as a gardener we just have to take the challenges we are put through and deal with them, one step at the time. I am NOT giving up growing fuchsias :-)
Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Garden for many more January gardens around the world. Until next time, take care.