Below is the list of our favourite plants in the garden in the second half of January 2023. I’ve updated these pages after my first effort in 2017 since some plants (including all our Hamamelis) have died and many newish snowdrops feature. I don’t tend to repeat plants that have featured in the previous fortnight, so it’s an attempt to show how there is always something new in the garden to tempt us out, whatever the weather. In late January many of December’s stalwarts are looking even better now, like early snowdrops and Cyclamen coum, so do have a look at the last 3 plant palettes. Spring is on its way. Well, at least that’s what all this new activity is telling us. And the nadir of late November when flowers are few and far between seems a very long time ago.
1: Crocus sieberi ‘Firefly’. Nearly always the first Crocus to flower in the garden. Often within the first week of January, but it’s really by the end of the month that they have more impact. In most years the flowers will only open once or twice, some years they’ll never even manage that if the weather is very cold or wet, but they’re lovely just as they are, as tightly closed candles of colour, on their own or mixed in with Cyclamen and snowdrops. And they’re amazingly frost resistant, withstanding very low temperatures with no obvious ill effects.
2:Chrysosplenium macrophyllum is a wonderful large leaved, gently spreading, ground cover plant for deep shade, and winter moist soil, which even attracts a few honey bee visits on a sunny day when it’s warm enough. It often begins to flower in the last week of January. We love this plant’s value as groundcover which mixes well with snowdrops and Cardamine quinquefolia.
3: Galanthus ‘Cedric’s Prolific’. Originating from Cedric Morris’s garden in Suffolk, this is a fine early-season snowdrop that seems to well with us in most parts of the garden, although suffers a bit after disturbance. It has very distinctive pointed spathes.
4: Daphne bholua – unnamed seedling. This is the second of 3 seedlings we acquired from Pan-global plants a few years ago. It’s a much paler blush pink, with a pleasant fragrance, and the flowers open a bit later than the Daphne bholua mentioned in early January’s list. But it seems to be equally vigorous, and is already beginning to sucker.
5: Galanthus nivalis – a local Welsh form PYB. This local-origin snowdrop, found in debris that the council had dug out, clearing ditches from a country lane, is one of the first of our Welsh-origin snowdrops to flower, is really vigorous, seeds and copes well with this very wet part of the garden, which takes the land drain outflow from behind the barns.
6:Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’. Not a dramatic plant, but it’s vigorous and has the merit of flowering in early to mid-January,when not much else does. It fills a gap nicely between Camellias and Skimmias in the copse.
7: Calluna vulgaris ‘Wickwar Flame‘. Fiona’s idea of planting some heathers into the non existent soil of the bank behind the house has proved to be a stroke of genius, and the winter flowering forms begin to light up this area in January, as well as providing very early season nectar and pollen on those rare days when the temperatures are warm enough for honey bees to fly.
9: Narcissus ‘Rjinveld’s Early Sensation‘. For many years we struggled to have any daffodils flowering for St. David’s day on March 1st This stunning early daffodil ensures that now we always do manage it. It’s frankly not the most special daffodil, but we forgive it that,since in the often gloomy weather of January it’s always a joy to see the first flowers appearing where we have it growing in the border outside the front door. Since it flowers so early, the flowers always last for weeks, too.
10: Podocarpus lawrencei ‘Blue Gem‘. This shrub/small tree has dark blue/green foliage ,not unlike a yew’s and it provides evergreen form and interest as one enters the copse throughout the year, but eis specially valuable in the mid-winter. We now clip it to limit its size beneath the expanding Magnolia stellata.
11: Galanthus ‘Galatea‘. One of our historically old forms of snowdrops which have proved to be very reliable. Its only failing is that in very cold weather it tends to keel over a bit sooner than some other forms. Sadly it also seems to be sterile..
12: Erica carnea ‘Springwood White‘. Another lovely, low growing and spreading winter flowering heather on our rear bank.