It’s the time of year when everyone I speak to is looking forward to spring, to tulips, bird-song and growing plants from seed, who can resist that?
Much as I’m looking forward to planting seeds and hearing bird-song again, I’m also making a determined effort to relish this time of year, despite the cold.
This probably stems from living in Norway over 25 years ago, where if you put your life on hold for the winter, half the year would be spent in limbo, just waiting. I’m grateful that the idea of enjoying the season, whatever it is, has stuck with me.
We’re fortunate here to have the sort of climate that lets such a wide range of plants thrive whatever the weather. A little walk round my garden revealed these treasures, the best plants for a January garden, that aren’t waiting for better weather, but putting on a great performance right now.
First up, the splendid Daphne bholua Jaqueline Postill, a tall, upright evergreen shrub that has pale pink clusters of highly scented flowers in January through to February.
o Plant in fertile, well drained soil, in part-shade or sun.
o Eventually reaches up to 3m high x 1.5m wide, it’s a slow grower, but worth the wait.
There are a huge clan of Euphorbia plants, I’ve got these two, I love them for their shape throughout the year and the lime-green flowers for cutting from E. characias. The cut stems need a few minutes in hot water to stop the flow of sap.
Euphorbia mellifera a perennial with bright green leaves, it comes from Madiera originally, so it’s happiest in a sunny, sheltered spot with well drained soil.
o It can reach 1.5 me high x 1.5m wide, but is smaller on my sandy soil. I’m always impressed by how plants adapt to local conditions and grow accordingly.
o It produces clusters of small creamy-brown flowers that smell strongly of honey, hence its’ common name honey spurge.
Euphorbia characias Wulfenii is originally from Greece, it’s also evergreen, tall and rangy with lime-green flowers. It self-seeds like crazy which you may not mind , but if you don’t, simply cut the flowering stems at the base in July to encourage new stems to grow.
All euphorbias produce a milky-white sap when they’re cut that can damage your skin, so best wear gloves and wipe secateurs clean after cutting.
Sarcococca, also evergreen, is a family of shrubs that are fairly insignificant most of the year until late winter when their little white flowers appear, they have the most beautiful sweet, honey scent. Plant one near your door to enjoy every day for the next few weeks.
Read here about a favourite evergreen shrub, perfect for small gardens.
Jill all photos: