A New Year, A Few Flowers

Yes, there are flowers in January. On a sunny day this week I took camera in hand to enjoy the winter garden and seek out flowers. While Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is traditionally on the 15th of every month, my blogging calendar rarely aligns with that date so I decided to innovate.

January in the garden is typically a few days of clean up here and there on rare dry days while most of my time indoors is used for planning and home projects while the rain and snow fall outside. This month has been so mild that I feel obliged to be outside working; very little inside time for me. Full steam ahead, I want to prune back shrubs and perform clean-up tasks, but alas, too early. Darn. Well, I’ve done a lot of walking around in circles taking it all in daydreaming of spring. I’m good at that. So, hey, here’s a look at what’s blooming at Chickadee Gardens in January.

First up is Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’, a clematis that every time I see it blooming in winter I am again somehow stunned. It really does bloom now.

Euphorbia rigida flower, right on time.

Although sparse this time of the year, Hesperantha coccinea (syn. Schizostylis coccinea) does still push out a few flowers. I learned last year that it’s a good idea to cut these back hard about now so that the new growth that comes later isn’t mingled with ratty foliage.

Heaths or erica are a reliable plant that shines this time of the year. The rest of the year they are evergreen subshrubs and add depth to the garden, but I grow them primarily for flowers with winter interest. Pictured is Erica x darlyensis.

A more striking color combination, Erica x darlyensis ‘Kramer’s Rote’ pairs dark black-green foliage with bright pink flowers.

Erica carnea ‘Rosalie’ is another with pink flowers, these are a lighter pink. There are about 10 of these total and have been slow to get to a descent size, but the wait is worth it. Erica and calluna (heather) are such workhorses.

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Janet Starnes’ is a variegated hellebore with quite leathery leaves. The blooms haven’t opened entirely but they are there so they count!

Helleborus foetidus – honestly I grow it for the foliage, but these odd flowers are welcome.

Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’ seedling with a yellow hue, a surprise to see blooming.

 Grevillea lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’ is a low-growing, spreading grevillea that has been hardy for me for about 7 years. It is about 3 x 6′ total spread in a protected sunny site.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’ is technically a flower, so I include it as it does add winter interest.

Hamamelis ‘Rochester’ is blooming for the first time! Purchased at
Gossler Farm Nursery about 4 years ago, I considered moving it due to its lack of winter flowering. This week I am pleasantly surprised and will leave it where it is. I don’t like moving plants, I prefer to keep them intact where I initially intended them to go, but will move plants that are not happy or have outgrown their space. This particular witch hazel has the most amazing fragrance, by the way, and came to my attention via
Danger Garden several years ago. It was originally though to be
Hamamelis ‘Early Bright’ but was mislabeled. ‘Rochester’ it is and it is very fragrant.

Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ has been a more reliable bloomer than Rochester and gets a little larger and a little more floriferous every year. Not as strongly scented, it still dazzles in January.

Calendula ‘Radio’ – these things don’t know they are annuals. They have been going steadily since March in the vegetable garden.

Viburnum tinus ‘Robustum’ – just buds – but this poor viburnum has a story. It lived in a pot on our front porch at the old house for years. When it was finally time to move it out here, it had a brutal icy journey and practically died, defoliating almost entirely. I had a feeling it wanted to survive and let’s face it, viburnums are generally tough plants. So it was planted in the ground, several main branches died completely and were cut back and today — some 4 years later — it is gorgeous with entirely new branches. Patience pays off sometimes. These are victory flowers.

Sarcococca confusa, another winter bloomer that smells amazing. Evergreen and a tough shade plant, these are also workhorses in the garden.

Daphne bholua was a rescue from work a few years ago, a spindly stick destined for the compost heap. It bounced back and is blooming rather nicely this winter. This will eventually, if happy, be a huge daphne topping off at 15′.

While not blooming, this Sedum confusum nonetheless got my attention. Little details pop for me in January when I’m not distracted by the larger garden.

Disporum cantoniense ‘Night Heron’. Not flowers, but attractive berries. These woodland beauties add a bit of style to an otherwise boring section of shade garden.

So what have I observed? The obligatory heaths and hellebores are blooming and should be in everyone’s garden if you are looking to add interest in winter. I have observed the odd bumble bee visiting these flowers as well as hummingbirds. I also observed the witch hazels are getting better every year and are the stars for me right now. I observed that the fragrant shrubs of sarcococca and daphne make me swoon and lift my mood and that the Australian continent is representing in the form of fabulous grevilleas which bloom sporadically all year. During winter they are especially appreciated.

Our honeybees are doing very well. The recent warm weather has many out searching for pollen. They’ve eaten 8 pounds of sugar already this winter, and we don’t know how much of their honey pantry. FM provided a pollen patty the other day. We aim to keep the bees fat and happy.

There is definitely life out there and beauty to boot. While it’s subtle, it is appreciated. I hope you’ve enjoyed a few winter flowers here at Chickadee Gardens. That’s a wrap for this week, until next time thank you for reading and happy gardening!