The palette of January is brown, pin-pricked with whites and greens.
We don’t spend much time in the garden this month, except to empty the compost bin or hang out washing on a breezy sunny day. So we let the garden gently decay. I hopefully imagine – but rarely see – a microworld of insects enjoying seed heads, broken hollow stems and berries.
One weekend I do spend a bit of time mulching the beds, turning over the leaf mould, and tackling compost bin. I turned it over, extracting everything usable and dug it into the vegetable bed. I used some offcuts of last season’s plants to try and deter cats and foxes from using it as a loo, and then moved two blackcurrants and a gooseberry into the spot where we grew a courgette plant last summer.
We rarely see birds. Our neighbouring area is largely concrete with the odd bit of lawn; there is precious little cover and too few perches between us and the nearest trees and bushes. But occasionally some parakeets come to eat the food we put out, and once or twice I saw tits of some description flitting to the food and then away – unsure, I suppose, if the cats and foxes that prowl our garden might be close.
One of my aims with our front and back gardens has been to ensure interest in every month, for us and for insects. I think I enjoy seeing the Hellebore (Lenten Rose) flower more than any other, accompanied by cyclamen dotted about, and a cyclamen cirrhosa by the front door.
The other pleasure in January – sometimes a climate breakdown anxiety – is seeing bulbs push green shoots out into the light, presaging brighter days and eventually spring. Elsewhere, perennial plants like my Euphorbia present their buds and await warmer weather.
I’ve also planted some daffodils out in a shallow pot by our back door to bring life and scent into our house.
Before the month ends I think we’ll see crocuses.