Dear Readers, January can seem like a very uninspiring month in the garden, unless you keep your eyes open for ‘small beauties’, as a friend of mine calls them. They’re all the lovelier for being accidental, as is the case with these hazel catkins. When I first moved in I put in a mixed hedge (just a tiny one), but what I’d never realised (doh) was that if you don’t trim the plants that make up the hedge regularly, some of them decide that they’re going to be saplings instead. Such was the case with a couple of the hazels, but their lemon yellow catkins are such a joy that I don’t begrudge them. If you look very carefully at the photo above, you can also see the tiny red female flowers on the stems, to the left of the catkins themselves. I will have to trim some of these plants, but not until later on now that they’re flowering and so clearly having fun.
Elsewhere the duckweed which has usually disappeared by now has found the mild weather much to its liking, and is still going strong. I shall have to have a good old clearout at the weekend, otherwise it will be impossible come the spring. I did hope that the big freeze of early December would slow it up a bit, but it’s very happy. I think it’s the water temperature that determines growth rate (says she with her scientist white coat on), and it takes a long time for water to cool down, so imagine a week at sub zero won’t have affected the ambient temperature much.
And what is this emerging from the depths? I’m hoping its my marsh marigold, but I have a horrible feeling it could be the bog bean, which is lovely but can be a bit vigorous for a smallish pond. Ah well, only time will tell.
In other news, I have a new enormous seed feeder, which has proved immensely popular with all the little birds, as I’d hoped – whole flocks of goldfinches arrive to feed, along with great tits, blue tits and of course the squirrels. My dilemma is that if I put a tray underneath it to catch the fallen seeds, the pigeons will scoff it all (and I already have a feeder with a tray that the woodpigeons and collared doves use). As it is, there’s just a seedy mess underneath the feeder, and no doubt a crop of sunflowers at some point if any of them germinate.
And finally, I was never going to buy another amaryllis after Dad died – he loved them so much, and I thought it would be too painful. But in a twist of fate, the pot plant subscription that I started during lockdown (a new plant every quarter) sent me two amaryllis bulbs, and every time I walk into the kitchen I am astounded by their beauty. I have put them on a cat-proof spot (amaryllis pollen can be toxic to cats, like lily pollen) so that I can enjoy them without worrying, and every time I see them, I think of Dad, so that’s no bad thing. When they were growing he always called the long green stems with a bud on the end ‘Martian Willies’, but that’s Dads for you. How I miss that terrible sense of humour.