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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

January in the garden Part 2

I've been out this morning doing some real gardening! There's no wind and I got quite warm and ended up taking off my jacket, and then the sun came out and I could actually feel its warmth. It's clouded over again now so I'm glad I was able to enjoy a brief period of nice weather. I've pruned my black and redcurrants at long last and have started to attack the perennial flowers around the edge of the veggie patch, and will then move on to some of the flower beds. I despair looking around at all the clearing up that needs doing, but I'll just have to do what I can - at least now I am starting to feel some energy again.

The jobs I normally do in the middle of winter like attacking brambles and ivy in the woodland, and clearing the bramble swamped stream, haven't been done, and it'll be interesting to see how the apples and pears fare this year, as they are not getting pruned. To be honest it's a huge sigh of relief as it's quite an onerous task for two, taking up the best part of a week of afternoons. 10 years of pruning them with all the lugging the ladder, step ladder and tools over to the orchard and back, no wonder that in recent years we've been getting totally fed up with the job!

These photos aren't from this morning - oh no, it was serious 'attack the garden and don't be distracted by taking a camera with me' time. I shall probably pay for it tomorrow aching like crazy. I could have done more but I'm trying to be sensible!  

I just love this Dogwood at this time of year.
It's Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Flame' but I've noticed that it is
naughtily sending out stolons far away and sprouting
up to 2 metres away from the main plant!

Old apple tree full of mistletoe and you can just about see
some of the new shoots from the Dogwood that are
coming up in front of my Spirea.

A few fluffy seed heads left on one of the Smokebushes.

Some of the dead perennial growth looks lovely at first in winter,
such as the fluffy seed heads of Golden Rod.
But they are all starting to fall over and it's time to tidy up.

The day I took these photos it was very cold, despite being sunny. I clocked up one brave wolf spider and a fly on the wall of the duck shed, which is a sun trap, not that it exactly heats up in January. But when I stopped to look at some moss and lichen on a silver birch trunk I spotted a tiny beetle. What you can barely see here is another miniscule bug to the left of and slightly above the beetle (I didn't notice the beetle until I'd taken this photo), which is what first caught my eye because it was moving about. It might be a springtail, but I'm not sure.

Tiny critters not actually hiding but you have to look for them!

This is the best I can do with my macro lens - the beetle was only about 3mm long.

Interesting orange fungal stuff (?) on the old pallets making up one of the leaf mould bins.
Any ideas?

Now to some new growth. I cleared up the old tatty leaves from this Hellebore so that the flowers would show up better. I also picked a stem to bring inside along with some snowdrops, so that I could enjoy them more. The snowdrops burst open into flower after just half an hour, but the Hellebore sulked for 24 hours as the warmth was a shock to it, but it's been happy flowering on my kitchen table ever since. I need to pick flowers more often but just forget!

First sighting of Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) in the woodland .

Hellebore - the two pictures that look very pink were taken on a sunny windowsill indoors,
which changes the colour completely.

Snowdrops! Can't beat them in January.

And here's one indoors just a little while later.

Apart from these two flowering plants, the primroses are blooming quite well and have been since December, and I can see pink flower buds just starting to open on one of the Japonicas (Flowering Quince). There are also Heartsease Violas flowering away - these plants are tough as old boots and flower all year round and are a welcome sight in the middle of winter. Daffodil buds are just pushing through the ground, but it'll be a while before spring, so I am content to have just a few signs of floral life for the moment.


  1. wonderful account as always! Of course I love your orange fungus. It looks like a jelly fungus. There are a few species but here is some general information:

    I'm so tempted to start pruning all my garden but we're told here not to do it until all danger of frost has passed. I might succumb, though, because it is unprecedently warm!

    1. Thanks Marianne! I'm sure you've told me about jelly fungus before, so I'll have to check back my autumn posts..... I'm sure that radiotherapy fried my brain cells too!
      I'm not really doing much actual pruning, but here we have many plants that must be pruned during the dormant season. But 90% of what I am doing is removing dead growth to allow space for the new growth to come through. :-)

  2. Lovely photos Mandy. I love the gorgeous pink Hellebore. It's great to see that you're up and about again. :-)

    1. Thank you Deb! I have some other Hellebores but they flower a little bit later. It feels wonderful to have a bit more energy and to want to get outside and do things! :-)

  3. Lovely post and photos, my garden is so tiny compared to yours, and I have not tided round since the back end of last summer, the trick here would be to live with it. My excuse is I have left it for the Blackbirds to rummage through :)
    Amanda xx

    1. Hi Amanda and thanks. I don't usually start the big garden clean up until February, but I have so little time before my surgery (3rd week of Feb) and I'm not going to be able to do any gardening after that for quite a while. So want to get as much as possible done now! xx

  4. I am so pleased you've been working in the garden- bet it did you the power of good, aching muscles tomorrow accepted! xx

    1. Hi CT! Amazingly I'm not aching this morning, but I think it was sensible not to do too much too soon. But I was able to cook dinner, much to the relief of the Under Gardener who came in bent double at dusk after spending the afternoon shredding tons of snipped off dead bits..... ;-) You are right, I felt so bloody good yesterday! :-) xx

  5. Oh you must have felt so good to have the energy to get out and about though you must have been aching after all of this - you probably slept well Mandy :) I hear you on the not taking photographs - sometimes I have to be so strict with myself or I'd never get any work done in the garden. We've got snowdrops out in flower now too. I picked some hellebores and brought them indoors but they sulked away here and drooped.

    1. Hi Rosie - surprisingly I didn't ache at all - it was only that afternoon and evening that I felt it! Been out snipping a bit in the rain today but it's pretty miserable and wet, and only going to get worse. But even 20 mins each day is better than none. I hope your hellebores have perked up now; mine did eventually. Cheers!

  6. Well you don't seem to have lost either the enthusiasm for your garden, or ability to write a damn good blog Mandy. It's lovely to see how your garden is looking at this time of year and the new growth with the snowdrops etc adding interest. I really like that Dogwood plant and also the seed-heads.

    Yeah..pretty sure that's one of the smaller springtails you captured there..probably is Lepidocyrtus species? No idea about that pretty little beetle though...maybe one of the Oulema beetles?

    Anyhow...another good read (both parts) and good to know you are coping ;-)

    1. Hi JJ and thanks. I have been enjoying renewed energy this last week, even almost enjoying some mundane housework! Today less energetic but the weather is naff anyway, and tends to affect my enthusiasm (like most people!).

      Thanks for the possible IDs for the insects - I'll look them up. Missing the bugs when I go out with a camera, and not a lot to shoot here anyway this time of year, so I'm always pleased if I find anything with 6 or 8 legs, however tiny. :-)