January is hard for me, and I know I’m not alone. The holidays are over, so there’s less distraction — fewer parties to give & attend, less champagne to drink, and the decorations (and especially lights) start to come down. And for someone who loves to garden, being stuck indoors because of weather, and limited daylight, takes its toll. So I do all the things they advise … I get exercise, I eat right, I stick to a regular sleep schedule, I get daylight every day on my face, and I try to get outside whenever it’s reasonable.
And when I’m outside I try to look for the subtle changes to the landscape this time of year. The lingering berries on trees & shrubs that the birds get to enjoy, the swelling buds, the composting of leaves, the bright green moss covering every surface, and the newly grown branches are all wonderful. But there are also a handful of things that bloom only this time of year, and the promise of things to come — you just have to look closer. Winter requires your attention to notice what’s happening. It’s like a soft touch on the arm rather than the raucous body slam of Spring.
The other day I walked around our neighborhood with the pups, Gus & Ernie, so we could all get some exercise & fresh air.
This is what they did when I asked them to look at me for a photo when we were headed back into the house. We’re always on the same page, the pups and me.
It was a lovely, clear day with that low daylight we only see in winter. It was cold enough that I’d wished I’d worn gloves, because by the time we got home my hands hurt from the cold.
The Pieris japonica (Andromeda) is in bud everywhere, and I love how it blushes before the white flower bells open.
Considering we had an ice storm on xmas eve, I was surprised to see this very happy rose a week later. Completely unphased.
This Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) is covered in the beginnings of vibrant pink buds.
Erica (Heath) is such a reliable small shrub here. It acts like a dwarf conifer, except in winter, when it lights up the garden with shades of whites, pinks, and purples.
Callicarpa (Beautyberry) still holds onto its gorgeous berries on bare stems, so they’re super noticeable.
And the hellebores have started their annual show, in sunnier spots, at least.
And if you look closely, you can see crocus stems, daffodil stems, and other early spring bulbs showing themselves.
Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) is just starting its early blooms, and soon it’ll be totally covered in white flowers.
Usually Daphne odora blooms at the start of February here, but we had a mild autumn, and we’re having a bit more sun than usual, so maybe it’ll be early this year? It’s one of my favorite scents.
This solo bloom on Forsythia is an early arrival, but so welcome. Flowers this time of year are small, but powerful.
Sometimes you have to look closer to see the signs of hope, but this is the kind of thing that gets me through.