January means January?


As January draws to a close we’re still wrapped in a cocoon of grey spun from wet silvery threads of salty cloud whipped up from a plumbean sea by the breath of Zephyrus. The rain slowly dissolves the coating of salt from the windows to reveal a monochrome landscape highlighted only by a pale yellow wash of grass sloping down to the grey rocks. A bad case of  sequential North Atlantic depressions.


On the western horizon there is an ellipse of clear blue sky, edged with brilliant white cloud. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero! Will there be time to pull on the wellies and the waterproofs and rush down to the vegetable garden to check on the bulbs? No time to finish the coffee, listen to the end of the symphony, there is another band of rain approaching from the south!
As a pale winter sun appears the winter colours begin to glow. The tide wrack is a glistening amber line snaking along the rocks like a discarded boa from a midnight tryst and the siren sush of the waves beckons me to the beach to search for natural curios.

primroses snowdrops

However, my inner gardener urges me on across the field, there should be just enough time to see if the snowdrops survived the last gale and discover whether there are enough primroses for a tussie-mussie (a nosegay –tuse meaning knot of flowers and mose referring to the damp moss that was wrapped around the stems to prevent the flowers from drying out). 
Alas the primroses are a little wet and weather worn, but given a dry, calm day or so they will fill the sheltered corners of the garden with a promise of spring. As the days begin to lengthen the garden is starting to come to life – the first frilly roundels of aquilegia leaves, the soft bronze fronds of the fennel, spiky tufts of chives and soft green arrows of the buckler-leaf sorrel signal that the winter darkness is coming to an end.

13 thoughts on “January means January?

  1. Glad that the first signs of spring are brightening your gloomy days, Christine. I’m sure these early flowers are worth their weight in gold, well nearly, to coax us out in brief weather interludes. Obviously your snowdrops are imports? And doubles? What I’m discovering with my Welsh historic snowdrop hunt is that the ones which originate from very close to the sea ( if they’re of old ancestry – and so far anyway), tend to be some of the last to flower. Which got me wondering about genetics, or even epigenetics, which I confess I’d never even heard of before the other night, on a great comedy show on Radio 4. It is completely counter-intuitive to me as to why such plants should flower later in a mild setting. And not surprisingly they seem to retain this property when shifted to our upland setting,
    I’m sure you’re due for some more blue skies soon though,
    best wishes

    • We have some sunshine this morning – just one or two bright days can make us a difference to the garden and the gardeners!
      The snowdrops came with me from my garden in Worcestershire and are G. nivalis Flore Pleno. Snowdrops don’t really thrive in my garden (wrong soil and climate) but I perservere and keep trying a few in new places. I have no problems growing snowdrops in pots so always have spare bulbs for experimentation! Although it is very mild my snowdrops seem to flower in mid-late January in pots and from late January to March in the garden, which is interesting because as you say it is mild here in the winter despite being so far north. I have been thinking about Galanthus genetics too and might just be tempted to write a short post.

  2. Looks a lot like spring is on the way already! 🙂

    • Still away to go yet, but the increasing day length makes a big difference.

  3. We have snowdrops popping up on a daily basis. Spring is coming.

    • The first snowdrops arealways such a welcome sight and turue harbingers of spring.

  4. The days are getting noticably longer. How lovely to have primroses in bloom.

    • Don’t really understand why, but the primroses seem to be in flower all year round.

  5. Interesting to read the ‘full’ carpe diem quote – I wasn’t familiar with the rest of it. Love those first two pictures – apart from the beachcombing, another advanatge of living on the coast is watching the weather systems come and go. Will we be seeing a tussie-mussie in a vase on Monday…?

    • I was planning a tussie-mussie for vase Monday, but you guessed defeated by the weather again.

      • Aw, that’s a shame…

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