The January Garden

Winter has been fairly kind to us this year. We experienced just a whiff of snow and a lot of rain, actually January has been the wettest month in a few years. Right now I can't go outside, it's just too soggy and even the field grass squishes when walked upon - but last weekend was a warm-ish, dry-ish two days, enough to work outdoors, totally engaged in the garden. As I type this it's raining, but I know it won't last forever and I anticipate more outside time and, truth be told, I'm feeling a little cooped up.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream', a poor, abused clem that I bought in 2014 and put in the wrong place at the old garden. Even though it was just a sickly stick in the ground, I did not give up. It came with us to this garden where in the last two years has told me it's finally happy. An evergreen climber that blooms from November  - February, it definitely helps against the winter blues.

On January 14 we had a dusting of snow that lasted long enough for me to photograph the garden. It promptly melted after I was finished. Just how I like it. 

I thought the patterns from snow fallen on this Panicum 'Northwind' were interesting.

Looking south.

My garden shed in the background. 

Carex comans 'Frosted Curls' lives up to its name on this day.

We simply had to follow the footprints to find our furry boy.

The snow melted, the sun came out and I ran outside with camera in hand (finally!) taking a long, slow tour of the January garden. Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegata' - evergreen variegated jasmine, used as a small-scale ground-cover in a shady area. It often has pink highlights when stressed adding a bit more color.

We had some lovely sun-breaks. Here the sun catches rain droplets on Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' and a coralbark maple in the background.

Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans' with a Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro' in the background. This is why I value evergreen shrubs so much - for winter interest.

Saxafraga x geum 'Denata', a low-growing evergreen small scale ground-cover for the shade garden.

A bit of mist in the air is quite noticeable. 

Agave bracteosa 'Calamar' is a user-friendly agave with soft tips, so it's close to the edge of the garden where it can be appreciated.

Euphorbia rigida

New growth on a honeysuckle, probably 'Late Dutch'. I'm not too surprised to see this as it is one of the earliest deciduous plants to grow new leaves.

Daphne bholua, about two years old in my garden, puts on the fragrance like nothing else.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena', about three years in the garden, is still quite petite. This is its best flower show to date.

Sarcococca ruscifolia with a pollinator visiting - unsure what it is, I didn't even notice while taking the photo. Thank goodness for fragrant shrubs in January, they lift my spirit so much, it's quite remarkable what a pretty scent can do.

The longer I live here the more I appreciate heathers and heaths for their low-maintenance and year-round good looks. Pictured is Erica x darlyensis 'Kramer's Rote'.

Erica carnea 'Rosalie'. I have several others, perhaps I'll do a post dedicated to heaths and heathers sometime.

This manzanita just gets prettier and prettier. Arctostaphylos pumila (gray selection) I bought at Little Prince of Oregon nursery a few years ago as a 4" pot. There are two of these that flank one of the Himalayan mounds near the southern edge of the property. It should reach about 5' x 6' at maturity, so more of a spreader than an upright form. This is proving to be one of my favorite manzanitas in my garden.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki', tea olive, is great for its variegated leaves. A slow grower, but worth it. There are several mature specimens at Joy Creek Nursery gardens and a few of them are blooming wonderfully this winter, but it is said they can be shy to bloom. The fragrance is amazing, but I really grow this form for its color.

Lonicera nitida 'Lemon Beauty' is near the Osmanthus pictured above in a sort of golden-themed shrub garden. 

On the deciduous side of shrubs, this one surprised me with new growth already. It usually is pretty early but this is exceptional. Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' is settling in and showing its stuff after four years in the ground. It was planted as a 4" pot in 2016 and I remember it was quite expensive. The wait is worth it.

Phlomis russeliana, always dependable for punctuation in the garden no matter what time of year.

Allium stars. These were all cut down shortly after this photograph was taken, but I enjoyed them for several months.

A general view of the heart of the garden in late January.

Detail of some sempervivums under a fir tree. Don't worry, I'll get those pine needles out of there. Someday. When it's dry again.

After my big photo-tour of the garden, I was able to do a bit of clean up. It felt sooo good to be out there cutting back soggy limbs and making things pretty again. It didn't last long, however, as the rains have returned with seemingly no end in sight. I'll take what valuable garden time I can get between showers, and anticipate really getting going in the new hoophouse soon. I have some onions started from seed so far, so that's something! I also cleaned it up and am determining the general layout of the place.

In winter the garden obviously slows down, which is a good thing for it forces me to slow down, too. But there comes a tipping point when I have to be outside but can't - and it's frustrating. For many of you, I know you understand. But let us all hold on to the fact that the days are growing in daylight length and we will soon be out busier than can be pulling weeds and planting new treasures.

There you have it, the January garden around these parts. That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! 


  1. Hi Tamara. You planned well. Your evergreens look wonderful in your winter garden. Your Arctostaphylos pumila, wow. Don't you love those annual trips to Little Prince? I too have been feeling the gardening itch. Spring can't come soon enough. Maybe it already has! :)

    1. Maybe spring IS here, Grace - but I fear a cold snap, killing new growth. Such is the life of us gardeners. Isn't that arcto divine? Love it...thanks for your comments!

  2. This post is further affirmation of the fact that your garden is beautiful at all times of the year! I love the snow shots. That Lonicera is a plant I've tried twice here without success - or maybe I just gave up on it too sun after our summers pulverized it.

    1. Oh, thank you Kris, you are too kind. I can see that lonicera frying in too hot conditions - it seems to like cool coastal conditions, though. Too bad, the fragrance is lovely.

  3. Your photo number2 of Jan 14 is just splendid-perfect light, beautifully composed. I'm no fan of snow but it might be worth it to get an image like this !

    1. Aw, thank you! Snow...I am a "partial" fan - especially when it melts by noon! Ha! Thanks for the compliment! ;)

  4. The snow photos are so beautiful (especially #2) - just enchantment! I know your frustration about wanting to get out and work but can't due to the excessive rain. I've been in the same boat. It was so nice to get out and spend all day in the garden with no rain (until now)!

    1. Thank you, Phillip! I got lucky with the snow pics.

      Oh, yes, to get outside is divine. This time of year especially. Soon it will be spring! I keep reminding myself of that to get through this rainy spell.

  5. Amazing post- snow to spring growth in one fell swoop. What a grand garden. Thanks for mentioning Phlomis- I need to add that to my garden. I think it is such a cool plant.

    1. Thank you Janet! Yes, it was snow and then today it was 60 degrees and sprinkling. Go figure!

      Oh, that Phlomis, I love it. All year it delivers - no exaggeration.

  6. Beautiful photos as always, I was especially taken with the Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream'. During last weekend's sunshine I was busy with HPSO and other stuff and missed that opportunity to be outside. It's driving me nuts to be so cooped up! I did get outdoors yesterday morning, just long enough to take a few photos and at least feel a bit of connection to my garden. Spring can't come soon enough!

    1. Thank you Danger. That Clematis is so lovely, it's nice to have flowers in January.

      Oh, so sorry you missed the window of garden opportunity. Cooped up sucks! Spring can't come soon enough. I guess I should just be happy we're not having ice and snow, right?

  7. Your snow pictures are lovely.

  8. Love the photo tour! I had honestly forgotten that snow was on January 14th! It seems like so long ago, and yet that time passed so quickly. Yes, oh yes, to heaths and heathers! I love them so much. I don't have nearly enough of them.

    1. It does seem like months since it snowed, but really only a couple of weeks ago. I thought you might be a heath/heather appreciator! Which varieties do you grow? I don't have very many but I sure do adore them. They nearly always look great. Heather lovers unite!

    2. It's funny, as much as I love them, they are one of the few groups of plants in my garden I'm especially terrible at keeping track of. I also don't have a lot of terribly interesting or unusual ones. I think I have 5 named cultivars of Calluna vulgaris, 2 orange ones (1 is 'Wickwar Flame', but I forget which) and 3 green ones (2 of which I think are 'Dark Beauty' and 'Allegro') and then dozens of seedlings with a range of foliage and flower colors, though the vast majority are simply green with mauve/lilac blooms. Some, though, have nice form and a few have nice golden/orange or grey foliage. As for Ericas, I have some low-spreading E. carnea I've long since forgotten the name of, the E. darleyensis selection typically sold as 'Mediterranean White', another white-flowered form (possibly 'Springwood White'), a couple nice golden/amber foliage types I wish I could remember the names of, and 6 Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold'. I have a wishlist of plants I was going to order from Heaths and Heathers Nursery this year, but decided to hold off on it.


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