Bee Leaf Privilege Club

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In the Garden This Month
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Bare is beautiful this month as much of the garden is dormant until the weak, warming sun of early spring begins to coax plants back into life and another gardening year begins. The lack of colour makes us appreciate the beauty of coloured stems and evergreens as well as any flowers that are brave enough to challenge winter weather! Evergreen conifers and shrubs make richly coloured, bold shapes whilst bare stemmed Dog Woods and Willows light up when low, watery sun hits them and throw shadows onto frosty lawns. Ornamental grasses, with their bleached out, skeletonised flowers also add interest and winter flowering shrubs are a delight on the eyes as well as, in many cases, the nose!

Witch Hazels (Hamamelis) with their spicily scented flowers, clustered on bare stems like shreds of marmalade, are one of the first shrubs to flower, along with Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus) with a heady, sweet scent from waxy yellow blooms. Soon to follow are the first Iris unguicularis (stylosa) – their blowsy blue blooms a surprise as they open from sturdy crowns of grassy leaves.

The first Snowdrops appear in gardens and in sheltered woodland, along with the first of the Celandine flowers that beam in butter yellow. Great Tits, Blue Tits, Black birds and Song Thrushes may be heard singing on sunny days and will soon begin scouting for nesting sites.

Sunny days bring butterflies out of hibernation, including the striking Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell that can be seen warming their wings and clattering around the garden looking quite out of place. They will return to hibernate in a spare room or garden shed during colder weather.

Chattering grey squirrels can be seen in parks and woodland as they tough out the cold weather and the males begin to chase females in a rowdy courtship ritual. Rooks begin to repair old nests in the rookery and may have already paired up for the breeding season. Gradually, the days begin to lengthen and nature begins to breathe again more easily with the promise of spring not far away.

Not sure what to do in the garden this month? Try our January Jobs List.