A nice suprise.

Typical of gloomy days recently. January has been usually gray.

The sun has finally shown again in 2021, which began with thirteen days of gloom, then just a peek of brief sunshine, followed by many more days of gloom, bits of snow, or freezing rain. This morning, despite the cold, I grabbed my coat, gloves, warm hat, scarf, heavy boots, camera and set out for a jaunt about the gardens. My main goal was to just get some sunshine on my face, but fresh air, exercise outdoors, and checking for any frost heave of younger plants were also prime motivations. The heavy boots were not really needed. We have no snow at all again, and have had so very little so far this winter that we are hovering on a new record for snow absence. But, it was muddy in spots and they kept my feet warm so I was glad for them.

I did my usual path: out the back door and along the sidewalk, peering closely for any signs of snowdrops newly planted under the sumac. No sign of green tips. Will the winter aconite under the elder return, or did watering the coleus planted over the dormant bulbs all summer prove too much for them? No hint yet. BUT, look what was waiting for me at the south end of the Deck Garden!

The first suggestion of Spring has emerged! I did a happy dance!

Around to the Front Garden, where nothing much is happening. No crocus tips pushing through there yet, even though it is more sheltered than the Deck Garden. I did retrieve one gold gazing ball which the wind had blown across the entire lawn to the edge of the woods and returned it to its rightful place. Next, the Front Island where I was delighted to see the auricula primula planted last spring look good, although still small. Several of the daffodil labels had washed into the grass, so those were collected. I’ll have to get out my map to see where they belong.

Across the lawn to the Blue Garden, where the two auricula primulas planted there last spring, both of which had bloomed late last fall, had been apparently dug out by squirrels and were entirely missing. Otherwise, all seemed well. Around the north side of the house to the Addition Garden, which looks decidedly empty. However, the hollyhocks planted last summer were still nicely green and happy…so far. Down the hill to the Fairy Slope, where I noticed I’d missed two ceramic mushrooms when all the fairy houses and decor had been supposedly stored away so I put them in my pocket.

One of my favorite plants! Gold Moss Feverfew is tough, tough, tough!

Across the stretch of lawn to the potager and a quick walk across the front exterior border showed all looking well, but not much signs of life, at least not new life, except for the glowing patch of golden feverfew shown above, which still looks entirely presentable in late January! Inside the potager, I checked the berry boxes to be sure the plastic was holding up, especially on the one with old, used 2 yr. old plastic. The spinach, leeks and carrots inside look delicious! The berry box without plastic holds the winter seeding jugs, and they looked okay as well. No signs of germination, but it’s much too early for that. A walk around the interior border reminds me that I’ll need to do some light rose pruning soon, and the greenhouse needs a full day, maybe two to repair the bubble wrap insulation that is falling apart. Or, maybe I’ll just take it all down…pondering that one.

The wire cages around the black currants seem to be working to prevent deer and rabbit damage, although I’ve seen plenty of both species out and about the yard. The Cutting Garden is as brown as usual this time of year, but it reminded me that I WILL not allow any self-seeded sunflowers to remain in the path this year. Last year my tender heart won out, and it was with great rejoicing when they finished blooming and I could finally pull them out to clear the path. Sunflowers are scratchy!

The Lavender Slope plants look good so far, having benefited from good ventilation rather than being immersed in snow. I didn’t fill in the west end last year as planned, but I intend to do that this year. Not saving enough plants to fill the entire slope when I closed the herb farm was a mistake. But, I’ve seeded “Blue Spear,” and I intend to take cuttings for new plants from the ones that are doing best in this challenging location.

The South Island looked fine. The irises there are spreading and the Silver Southernwood, another of my favorite plants, looks as happy as it can when dormant. The white lilac there is only half the size of the one in the slightly shaded North Island, although they were the same size when planted on the same day four years ago. That reminded me that I had not looped around the North Island, so I headed that way. No sign of the white lunaria I babied all summer…the last of 5 plants put in there last spring. The squirrels just would not leave them planted and dug them out day after day, despite wire netting, etc. The island should look lovely this spring, having been extended a bit, with more daffodils added along with an early-flowering daylily.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is primula-first-bud.jpg
Maybe the first outdoor flower of 2021?

That brought me to the Primrose Path, and imagine my surprise to see the white one budded! I’ve never, ever had a flower bloom outdoors in January (other than a dandelion, and that doesn’t really count)! It’s not open yet, and we have teen’s in the forecast for night-time temps this week, but you can bet I will be watching it closely! How exciting! A lovely reward for making the trek. I think I’ll be trekking lots more often.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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22 Responses to A nice suprise.

  1. jorjagrael says:

    This is amazing! So many plants! I looked around yesterday and not much is happening in my garden. I did find one of the store bought mums that is still alive. They usually don’t survive the winter here, so I did the happy dance!


  2. inkspeare says:

    Love the pictures! We have had similar weather here – rain, frost, ice, freezing fog, snow … and my forsythia has been blooming nonstop, and it is all covered in yellow. A rose bush (climber) has a few old roses left and a few buds. Last year, we had similar weather, the forsythia bloomed early, and we had a mild winter overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      And my forsythia barely bloomed at all last year…very scraggly looking with only a bloom here, another there. Forecast is for colder temps and snow again, so I’ll probably have to wait until February for my primrose to open. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely to hear about your garden. Winter seems harder for me this year so I appreciate any little signs of life.


  4. Beautiful post! It’s so lovely to get to enjoy the sense of other people’s gardens, especially during this time of pandemic. Thanks for taking us on the walk with you! BTW how do you find the name of the moss you have? I was just taking photos of mosses in the garden here in CA a couple days ago for a post, but I’ve never known what varieties they are.


  5. Scott Dee says:

    Lovely walking path! And I’m sure the plants are happy that you’re keeping an eye out on their behalf.
    Do you find that very small greenhouses are beneficial for starting seedlings, or do they fluctuate temperature too much? There’s been some astounding wind out here recently, and I’ve been meaning to build a small greenhouse after my basil was stripped clean.


  6. carolee says:

    My greenhouse is worthless for starting seeds early or for growing anything in winter. I use it only beginning in March to give plants much more light than they get in the basement and to begin the hardening off process, with a heater on thermostat. It’s great for that and really gets a workout in March, April, early May when our temperatures fluctuate so much. I wouldn’t have one without an automated vent though, because plants can cook very quickly if the sun comes out, and I’m not home to open the door. It’s worth it for that. I couldn’t grow the volume or variety of plants that I do without it.


  7. Hi Carolee – just popped over for a quick look at your blog and I have to say your Pottager is absolutely beautiful – I am so envious.


  8. Your first primrose looks just like mine, still thinking about blooming!


  9. Christy says:

    I love your garden! I hope one day mine looks at least half as beautiful as yours!


    • carolee says:

      Thank you, and I expect your garden will improve each year. I’ve had a lot of ugliness in the past, but eventually it gets sorted out if you just observe and try to improve a bit at a time.


  10. Pingback: January: Monthly review | herbalblessingsblog

  11. Peg says:

    Keeping fingers crossed for your primrose! 🤞🏼


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