Garden Views-01-January 2022

January 2022 began with a gloomy damp day, remarkable only for setting a new (record high) minimum January daily temperature for Wales of 12.8 degrees C at Trawsgoed (Dyfed). Here, waking early at 6.00a.m. I registered a ridiculously balmy 9.5 degrees C outside the front door, as the UK was washed with warm air from The Azores. Last January, 2021, we woke to significant snow cover, and subzero temperatures.

The very first flowers opened on the Daphne bholua ‘Jacquline Postil’ on the first day of the year, later than in most years, and we only had 22 different snowdrop cultivars with flowers dropped past 90 degrees. Again, well behind where we often are at the start of a New Year.

The balmy conditions didn’t last more than a couple of days, and then apart from some typically glorious January sunrises, most days were generally grey, with either rain or hail showers.

Gradually the snowdrops began to get into their stride, and without significant frosts, I was able to start my annual lifting and potting on of more vigorous forms, to have a few available for later NGS snowdrop garden open days.

However the mild, damp and almost continually grey days continued to mid-month. Thank goodness for some hedge laying, snowdrop emergence and the emerging Cyclamen coum to raise the spirits, along with regular dusk time fly pasts by several woodcock, even visible from our back door – though impossible to photograph well from this vantage point in dim light, as they appeared, then were gone, in a blurry black flash!

By the 10th, the scent of the hundreds of tiny Daphne bholua flowers was becoming so powerful, it even hit us as we struggled back up the track after a good work out on the e-bikes. It’s also the first year when the distinct forms, habit and flowering times of the 3 seedling Daphne we acquired about 4 years ago is becoming more obvious, one in particular having lovely pale rose pink flowers with cinnamon stems, in contrast to the deeper, purple pink of the original D. bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’, which now grow as large thickets, in several places around the garden, reaching up to 9 feet in height..With a marked absence of large starling flocks this year, either at dawn or dusk, some glorious sunrises continued to hold out hopes of better weather to come, and compensate for days like the 10th, when it was variations of oppressive grey, all day.