Here we are, the 23rd has come rushing round yet again with unseemly haste and it is time for my monthly Top Ten Bloom update. January has been mild but very wet and all my favourite winter blooms are looking wonderful.
I have to start off with my all time winter favourite, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. I know I am a Jacqueline bore, but she is stunning and the scent is sweetly delicious and outstanding amongst all the fragrant winter flowers. Mine is in quite an exposed space in full sun in my windy front garden and so it loses all its leaves in winter, but I think the masses of pink starry flowers stand out better on bare branches. It is a tall, upright bush growing to at least 2 metres in height.
This is the view looking into it from overhead and if you were standing here I’d have to restrain you from diving nose first into it because it is so intoxicating.
Daphnes are short-lived and can suffer from sudden death and as I couldn’t face January without Jacqueline I have planted another one in a sheltered spot. This one keeps all its leaves in winter but the flowers don’t stand out quite as well. By the way, never move a daphne once it is planted, it will certainly die if you do.
I also have Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ and it is sweetly fragrant too but not nearly as floriferous and it comes into bloom a bit later, you can see in the photograph that it is still in bud. It makes a rounded shrub and doesn’t grow tall. It is all very pretty but once you’ve seen ‘Jacqueline Postill’ no other daphne will do.
Snowdrops are popping up all over and I know they are the marmite of the floral world, some people are besotted and others wonder what all the fuss is about and why galanthophiles spend hours with their bottoms in the air counting green spots. So I will just show a few to try to convince you they are not all the same. Take Galanthus ‘Reverend Hailstone’ for instance. He is a whopper, a robust snowdrop which can grow to 30 cm tall.
Galanthus ‘Corrin’ has green spots on the outer petals and is a pretty shape.
The earliest January snowdrops in my garden are normally the elwesii hybrids. These are ones with the broad glaucous leaves.
But this year they are all coming at once. Galanthus ‘Robin Hood’ with the strong green cross on the inner segment is usually a bit later in bloom.
Galanthus ‘Anglesey Abbey’ has apple green leaves.
And Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’ is certainly different as he has six inner segments and six outer segments giving him a rounded shape. I’ll stop now as I know not everybody shares my enthusiasm for snowdrops but I hope I have shown enough to see that they are not all the same. I’m afraid there will be more in February.
The first of my little irises are out. In the greenhouse I have a yellow one, Iris ‘Katharine’s Gold’. It is a sister of the fabulous Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’
Some of the Iris reticulata bulbs break up and disappear after a year or two in the garden but this little clump of Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ is long lasting and blooms early outside. Next month there will be lots more of these little reticulated irises. They are called this because they have net like covering on their corms.
Clumps of the Algerian Iris unguicularis throw up there delicate flowers throughout the winter. If you pick them in bud they will unfurl in water.
It is always a treat when the first little yellow buttons of the winter aconites open up their buttercup flowers. If they are happy they seed around everywhere. They have put themselves all along this old, brick path.
I like to try to include a clematis for every month of the year and this month I have Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’ It might sound like an unpleasant liver disease but its cream flowers are a wonderful sight on a January day. I thought it had died from drought in the summer because its leaves dried up but it is absolutely fine and looking splendid.
Little Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ which I showed in December is still in flower and in January it is joined by egg-yellow Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ which people are always amazed to see so early. It is a full size daffodil which always blooms in January or February and unlike Cedric Morris it is readily available and not expensive.
For carpets of winter colour you can’t beat heathers. I know they are unfashionable nowadays and I notice there are none in the winter garden at Anglesey Abbey. I think it is a shame because Erica carnea does not need an acid soil and comes in lovely shades of pink and white. It must not dry out in summer though. Here is a photo of part of my winter garden taken more than twenty years ago in my previous garden. Sorry about the quality, it is a photo of a slide.
I love the effect and on a sunny day it is alive with bees so I have introduced some to my winter garden here although they don’t do so well as the soil is lighter and dries out quicker in summer. The pale paler one is ‘Erica carnea ‘Darley Dale’ and the darker one is ‘Kramer’s Red’, it’s not really red at all but it makes a nice contrast.
I showed some of my Witch Hazels last month and they are still looking good although the yellow ones haven’t really got going yet so these will extend the season into February.
In the above photo you can see one of the native hellebores, Helleborus foetidus which seeds all round the garden. If you go a little further down here you will find a part of the garden that you haven’t seen before. It is the pond area and I don’t usually show it because it needs a good tidy up but I am working round here at the moment. The gravel path that goes all round it is clear now and the banks of the path will soon be tidy too. The big tree in the centre is a weeping willow.
Here it is from the other side. The pond is about 4 feet deep at the moment after all the rain we have had.
And now I have only one flower to go so I will have to miss out my favourite sarcococcas , and anyway I have already mentioned them this year. So I will choose the rare and beautiful Lonicera elisae which blooms later than the more common winter flowering honeysuckles. It is an upright shrub and doesn’t sprawl like the other ones. The fragrant flowers hang down and are slightly furry, pinkish and funnel – shaped.
So there we have my ten. What are you enjoying in the garden this month? Please share your favourite January blooms and link to this post.