Cold, wet and grey

January is cold, wet and grey, who are not the three lost gnomes from Santa's grotto, or a lesser known music hall act along the lines of Wilson, Kepple and Betty.  Cold, wet and grey are the threads that run through this time of year, occasionally appearing as different combinations: cold and grey days, grey and wet days, cold and wet days and sometimes the best of all winter days, cold and sunny.  Sunny is a rare visitor though and has to be treasured when visiting.

Joy has to be found where it can, and there is much to be found if I choose to look.  It is a time of year when detail is what matters most and my walks around the garden tend to involve peering closing at the little things.  I have mentioned Rule #32 often, but enjoying the little things is what gets me through these cold, wet and grey days.

I have been feeling a bit stuck in the house and unable to get any serious gardening undertaken due to the completely saturated state of the garden.  I think it rained every day for the first six days of the year and then it decided to freeze.  So when I have managed to get outside to see what the garden is up to, I have found some things to delight in.
Cyclamen coum are a great joy this time of year.  They hide for most of the year but they appear over the next few weeks and add tiny splashes of colour around the garden.  This clump is one of the oldest in the garden and whilst it has bulked up a bit, it has not yet seeded around as much as I had hoped.
Hamamelis have to be one of my favourite early flowering scented shrubs.  They have fascinating flowers that appear before their leaves arrive.  They also have good autumn colour, so they are not a one-trick pony.  I have three hamamelis in the back garden and one in the front garden, I am greedy.
The two eldest ones flower first.  It is good that I still have two  to come into flower as this makes the joy last longer.
One of my garden stalwarts, Erysimum Bowles Mauve, flowers for most of the year.  This is a short-lived perennial so I regularly take contingency cuttings so that I never lose it.
I was happy to see that the pulmonaria was coming into flower.  This one is nothing special, its a fairly common variety but it is tough as old boots and always a happy moment when it starts to flower.
The hellebores are also starting into action.  I have quite a few as I allow them to seed around and I sometimes buy a new one that I cannot resist buying.  They are, to date, the one plant I am allergic to in the garden.  It took me a while to realise I was reacting to their leaves if I allowed them to brush along my arms as I was weeding.  I take more care around them these day.
Joining hamamelis as a favourite winter scented shrub is the winter honeysuckle.  I have two of these, one by the Portmeirion bench in the back garden and one by the front gate.  The scent from this shrub is nothing short of divine.  Bees love them on the milder days and they provide a valuable food source for them during the early months of the year.  For this reason alone I would always grow this.  It does not add much to the garden for the remainder of the year, but I care not, it sparkles when I need sparkle most and I am grateful.
Of course the snowdrops start pushing through this time of year.  Not only are they a welcome sign that spring is coming, I think they also remind me of childhood.  They are one of those plants that I learned the name of quite early and I think I thought them slightly magical as they flowered when little else did.  I still think they might be a bit magical if truth be told.
It is too cold for roses to flower at the moment, but that is not stopping Mme Alfred Carriere from trying.  This is a case of hope over reality but I admire her spirit.  Darkest winter requires hope to dispel the trio of cold,wet and grey.


  1. I didn't know about winter honeysuckle. How strong is the scent? I can't stand summer jasmine - it smells too much like a bath bomb - but love the scent of honeysuckle.

  2. It is quite sweet but I also am not keen on w jasmine and I like this.

  3. Cold, wet, grey and muddy! I'm rapidly losing the battle with welly / paw prints in the house. But as you say, even in deepest winter, you can find some excitement about what is to come in the buds waiting to burst!


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