January and February
With Christmas over and the new year underway, we know that the days are getting longer and we might even start to think about spring. Of course, January and February can be the coldest and sometimes the most unpleasant months of the year, but there are compensations. A cold, misty morning might be lit up by the low sun breaking through. A hard frost, and especially a hoar or a rime frost, might pick out the edges of leaves and coat tree branches in white ice. Viewed against a blue sky a rime frost in particular is a stunning sight. And frosty mornings can mean clear skies during the day. If the wind falls light and the sun is out it can feel surprisingly warm. If we can get out to the park or countryside, with less vegetation to distract us we notice the sky and the clouds more, and they’re often more dramatic and interesting at this time of year. Winter can be a time of highly coloured sunrises and sunsets.
This year, 2021, has sadly got off to the sort of start we’d all very much hoped to avoid. Confined to home and our local area once more, with each day seeming to bring more worrying news and so many people being lost to this awful virus, it gets increasingly difficult to keep our spirits up. The vaccine offers hope, but even that can seem a long way off and slightly uncertain at the moment.
Nature carries on as normal and we can take comfort from that.
My own garden doesn’t look great at this time of year. It’s so narrow (barely 3m wide) that the sun rarely reaches the ground in December and January and when winter is as wet as this one’s been, it can look pretty dull and dreary on a cloudy day. There are one or two bright spots though. After a hard frost and with the rising sun behind them, the seed heads of Clematis tangutica look ethereal. I’ve taught myself a lot about depth of field through photographing them.
I’ve got a few hellebores in flower, some snowdrops starting to appear, and the fat buds that are covering my camellia promise great things in a couple of months. Then there’s the ivy that has wound it’s way into my apple tree, threatening to smother it. Every year I remove huge amounts, but I leave some for the blackbirds to nest in and because it attracts so many pollinators in late autumn when it’s in flower. The berries are popular with the birds, as well and this year I’ve been delighted to see fieldfares and redwing joining the blackbirds in their annual feast.
Growing plants, comparing plants, writing about plants.
The world of plants is vast and can be daunting, but the pleasure of gardening is in learning what works; for you, for your garden and for the natural world around you. There’s no right or wrong, no better or worse, no-one else can tell you what to grow.
Join me in an exploration of plants. I’ll be updating this website regularly with some of the many new introductions that come onto the market. I’ll also be making visits to different gardens, nurseries, trade and public plant shows throughout the year, where I’ll be looking at the plants being grown and sold and sharing ideas that you might want to try in your own garden
The copyright of all images and text used in this website belongs to Janice Shipp unless otherwise stated.