outside in: January (8/12)

Last spring we planted yellow roses either side of an arch that leads to M’s Wendy house and swings. It’s supposed to be a summer-autumn variety, but it’s still flowering away in this mild winter weather. I picked three buds last week.

yellow rose buds, gardening blog, cottage garden, golden showers

They fade to a paler primrose as they open.

yellow rose, gardening blog, cottage garden, golden showers

Whenever I look at them, I remember a good friend of mine who loved yellow roses. She died very suddenly when we were in our 20s, but I am quite sure she would have enjoyed their name, Golden Showers.

I had hoped to pick some hellebores for the house this month, but sadly all of their flowers are being devoured by some unknown pest just as they begin to open.

So I consoled myself with a small posy of snowdrops. It wasn’t until I brought them inside that I realised they have the sweetest honey-like scent.

Next time you see a snowdrop, crouch down and have a sniff.

snowdrops sunlight, gardening blog, cottage garden

freshly picked, and still splashed with mud

Outside-in charts my attempts to bring the garden into the house with haphazard English Freestyle flower arranging.


winter flowers

A bit of sun, and scarecrow building, got us out in the garden for a few hours today.

It’s a mess if I’m honest. Mostly because we decided against cutting back many of the border plants for the winter, thinking their stems would look pretty on frosty mornings. We’ve only had a couple of hard frosts so far, but lots of heavy rain. So we now have a sodden mass of tangled stalks.

But if you take the time to look, there are some winter beauties out there. Here are some of my favourites…

quince blossom, gardening blog

We planted a couple of quince alongside the garage last year. It’s a gloomy spot and we kept forgetting to water them over the summer. They survived our neglect, but now most of the blossoms are getting munched by some pest or other. This is one of the few that has escaped.

pink dawn vibernum, gardening blog

We have lots of mature viburnum around the garden, so I was surprised at first when Steve brought this one home last year. But with its flushed pink flowers, it will be one of our winter highlights once it’s established.

witch hazel, gardening blog

Witch hazel is a fantastic winter-flowering shrub and we want to make space for more in the garden. This one is Arnold Promise – it was a Christmas present for Steve, so has only been planted a couple of weeks.

snowdrops, gardening blog

One of the loveliest things we inherited with the garden was the spring bulbs. I have a particular soft-spot for the snowdrops, which were just coming into flower when we moved in on a freezing cold January day two years ago.


making a scarecrow gardening blog“Let’s make a scarecrow,” said my three year old over breakfast this morning.

“OK. But why?”

“To look after our seeds.”

I decided not to mention that the only seeds we’ve sown recently are a second batch of sweet peas. They’re germinating in the porch and don’t really require the protection of a scarecrow.

Instead, I raided a bag of her outgrown clothes and grabbed a couple of hazel sticks we used as plant supports last summer.

I’ve never made a scarecrow before, but it was fun.

making a scarecrow gardening blog

We put him in the veg patch, with the ropy purple sprouting, skinny leeks (put them in too late) and some garlic and onions we planted in the autumn.

making a scarecrow gardening blog

I don’t know if he’ll last long enough to keep the pigeons off our peas and beans in a few months.

But he certainly gives me a turn every time he catches my eye from the kitchen window.

gardening blog, making a scarecrow