“Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Grey skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”
– Nelda Hartmann, January Morn
January can be a funny old month – all the merriment of Christmas has passed and a new year has begun, yet somehow it never really gets going…
The florals of January can also seem a bit ‘lost’, the bountiful greenery of the festive season seems a distant memory and the garden seems somewhat naked. The skeletons are all present, but there appears to be little flesh to offer much interest. With that in mind I have made it my mission this January to hunt out the beauty that there is to be had in the garden and flower fields, if only we take the time to truly look for it.
When we first started flower farming four years ago we were quickly introduced to the social media hashtag #helleboreappreciationsociety and I soon realised that this was a society I very much wanted to belong to! There are few flowers that have the exquisite style and elegance of the Helleborus. From the pure white varieties, speckled with plum, to the deep, dark, almost black varieties; they certainly hold a distinguished place in the garden at this time of year. Notoriously prone to drooping when used as a cut flower we prefer to wait until they have gone to seed before cutting them, this way you can get a good few days of vase life.
From the statuesque Helleborus to the nymph-like snowdrop…pure white heads of Galanthus bring a joy to the heart when they first appear every January. There are few sights to compare to a woodland carpeted in a bounty of white nodding delicate flower heads. When it comes to bringing these frail blooms into the house they seem to show off their best qualities when left unadorned, with little ornamentation in a bud vase.
Looking beyond the florals of the season there is wonder to be found elsewhere. Those so-called ‘skeletons’ I referred to earlier rightly come into their own in January. The fiery stems of Cornus bring shards of interest, whilst pussy willow and emerging catkins also provide shape and texture. This week has seen us start our pussy willow harvest, stems and stems of fluffy silver catkins have been cut. We will keep them out of water and somewhere dark and cool, this way they should last into springtime when we will use them to add interest to bouquets and wedding arrangements.
And with all that being said, I think it is safe to say a new flowering year has truly begun…