The plant for January is Viburnum tinus. January is named after Janus who the Romans supposed presided over all business and thus the beginning of the year. Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings, and is often shown with 2 faces.
Now virburnum also has a lovely variety called bodnantense which is pink and smells very sweet. We used to have it our last garden – and the sight of the white blossoms in amongst the green leaves of the tinus variety and then the pink flowers which smell of vanilla on bare branches are wonderful.
The term bodnantense means that this variety was developed at the wonderful Bodnant Gardens in Wales above the Conwy river. I have included some photos of this garden below. It is particularly lovely in the Spring.
According to my Gardener’s Almanack: A Frosty January will befriend you more than a mild November and I don’t what it has been like where you live, but our November in southern UK has been quite mild but December has been very varied, with the first frosts and also days of 13 degrees and above!
The quote for the 1st January is:
I have often wondered that those who are like myself, and love to live in Gardens, have never thought of contriving a Winter Garden, which should consist of such Trees as never cast their Leaves. We have very often little Snatches of Sunshine and Fair Weather, in the most uncomfortable Parts of the Year, and have frequently several Days in November and January, that are as agreeable as any in the finest months. At such times, therefore, I think there could not be a greater Pleasure than to walk in such a Winter Garden as I have proposed.
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 6 September 1712. p
We’re with Addison here and thus we have tried to create much of a Winter Garden in our front garden. We have several cornus there with multi-coloured stems – from deep blackberry to bright lime green and one that shades all the colours in its stems (Midwinter Fire is the variety). Underneath we have cyclamen seeding away and also a green flowered hellebore that starts in December and the flowers last until late Spring. And in our back garden we have wonderful coloured grasses and – until the wind blows them off- the acer leaves to wonder at. I have already mentioned the clematis – which flower all year in their wonderful variety – but if you want to see more of them there are many photos on my facebook/gardening4bees page.