Garden inspiration


Things to Do in the January Garden

Even though this is the coldest time of year and the garden in January may look asleep, this is a month for optimism. By the end of the January pearly white snowdrops and golden winter aconites will appear, making a perfect partnership with hellebores. Those brave plants that are flowering at this time of year can be admired without distraction.  There is always something to see and do in the garden!

January marks the beginning of a new year, full of promise in the garden. Despite the low temperatures and short daylight hours, there is still much to enjoy. Shrubs that are flowering at the moment include one of my favourites, the winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima and L. x purpusii) which fills the air with wonderful scent. I made a mistake when I planted mine right at the end of the garden a couple of years ago… it really needs to be nearer the door to be fully appreciated. However, they make good cut plants and I bring stems into the house.


Most winter flowering plants, although flowers are small, have very good scent in order to attract the few insects that are around. Others to try include Daphne mezereum, Viburnum farreri, V. x bodnantense, Mahonia japonica and M.Charity. Avoid my mistake and place them somewhere you will walk past frequently. Showy but lacking in scent are winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), Viburnum tinus and Garrya elliptica with its long grey catkins and evergreen leaves; ‘James Roof’ is the best variety, if you can get it.

Daphne mezereum

The lawnmower won’t be needed this month so why not get ahead of the crowd and take it in for a service? If you leave it until spring, lawn repair shops will take much longer and generally charge more because they are so busy.


If you are planning a new hedge, you will find that nurseries are full of bewildering varieties of bare-rooted hedging stock. Avoid the ubiquitous lelandii, which is really far too fast growing. In my job I often see these forest trees grow to such an extent that they take over the whole garden. There are so many alternatives. If you’re not sure which would be good in your garden, a good rule of thumb is look to see what grows well in neighbours’ gardens and copy!

garden hedges


Winter Honeysuckle photo: Zeynel Cebeci under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.

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