It’s cold. Christmas and New Year are gone. Many people see January as the Monday morning of the year. Well, it doesn’t have to be gloom and doom, especially in the garden!
It may be a quiet time in nature, with a lot of plants lying dormant, but there are some tough and hardy plants that aren’t afraid to show their blossoms in the January chill.
Here are six of my favourite plants to fend off the January blues. These strong survivors flower through this month to brighten your mood – so perhaps keep them near the door or patio so you can always see them from the house.
Eranthis hyemalis ‘winter aconite’
Bring in the New year with winter aconite, which grows in golden carpets underneath the bare January trees and shrubs. A member of the buttercup family that loves woodland and dappled shade, these perennials will grow to 10cm in height, with bright yellow flowers surrounded by divided leafy bracts.
For the best results, chose a spot with fertile, humus-rich soil that remains moist in summer. Beneath deciduous trees and shrubs works great, but they also work well naturalised into informal grassy areas.
Iris unguicularis ‘Algerian iris’
These beauties are a warming sight on a cold January day, springing up in bunches of rich purple flowers decorated with stunning white and yellow falls. This vigorous evergreen rhizomatous perennial can reach up to 30cm in height
They grow in well-drained or sharply drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Their ideal home is a cosy spot at the base of a sunny wall.
Mahonia × media – Oregon grape ‘Winter Sun’
This wonderfully architectural shrub will make a great focal point for a shady corner your garden. With spiky pinnate leaves surrounding tall flower spires covered in hordes of bright yellow flowers, this plant will make a real impression in your bare winter garden. The yellow flowers are followed by blue-black berries, and the foliage is evergreen to give year round interest, but in cold enough temperatures the leaves will turn an intense fiery red.
Winter Sun are tough plants that will thrive in almost any soil conditions and full or partial shade, and eventually can reach up to 4 metres tall!
This is sometimes called the Christmas or Lenten rose, because it flowers in winter and early spring. Helleborus is a perennial flowering plant that can be deciduous or semi-evergreen.
It produces large flowers with pointed petals that can be pure white or a pinkish colour. Helleborus is fully hardy and likes a spot with rich soil in dappled or full shade.
Chimonanthus praecox ‘Wintersweet’
Wintersweet is a woody evergreen or deciduous shrub with highly scented yellow flowers. The blooms are bowl-shaped and hang down from the branches. When the flowers fade they are replaced by long seed capsules or catkins.
This medium-sized shrub has dense growth and suits most positions. It needs well-draining soil and is fully hardy but the foliage may need shelter from cold winds in exposed, frosty areas.
Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’
This rhododendron is a dense, compact shrub with pointed evergreen leaves. It produces deep pink buds that open into masses of pale pink flowers that soon cover the plant.
It blooms in late winter and early spring, and the flowers are funnel-shaped with frilly petals. The plant is fully hardy and likes well-drained, neutral to acidic soil in full sun or partial shade. Keep watered during flowering as rhododendrons are shallow-rooted plants.