January Is Bloomin’ Lovely

OK, let’s get the show on the road.

Enough of this post-New Year decadence. Mine, not yours. Not that there’s been much of it to be honest. Such evidence as there was has long since been spirited away via the Bottle Bank and my objective (as distinct from resolution) to be more productive with my time this year is so far paying off. We’ll see how long it lasts.


Leycesteria formosa aurea 'Goldleaf'


Leycesteria formosa aurea ‘Goldleaf’

I grew this from seed and it’s now a respectable shrub some 5 feet high. The flowers remain from autumn, the petals (bracts?) thinning and fading as the weeks have passed until now it is all but transparent. The only practical way to take the photo was from a distance, on full zoom, pointing straight into the sun. Stopping down the exposure seems to have worked.

Chrysosplenium macrophyllum

Chrysosplenium macrophyllum

The blooms of this ground covering beauty caught me by surprise, poking up through a weak ray of sunlight on the woodland floor. Such a lovely thing to be flowering in mid winter, albeit just a little ruffled by this season’s abundant wind and rain. It was given to me by Helen Brown from Little Ash Garden, East Devon.


It’s been a relatively mild winter here so far. (Let’s whisper it.) But if it isn’t cold it’s usually storms and we’ve certainly had our share of those. Not that I’m complaining. The greyest months of November and December are behind us and the days are getting longer. On a sunny day such as we had yesterday it’s almost possible to believe Spring is just around the corner. Everywhere I look buds are starting to swell. Green shoots are appearing at the bases of perennials and the garden seems poised, just awaiting its moment.

Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis

Not quite a carpet of snowdrops yet. But it won’t be long. A bee was buzzing around me as I took this shot and who can blame it.


Primula vulgaris


Primula vulgaris

Even the primroses have ventured out.


Hamamelis mollis 'Jermyns Gold'


Hamamelis mollis ‘Jermyns Gold’

But this is the moment I wait for in January.. when the witch hazels burst forth.


Hamamelis x intermedia 'Robert'


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Robert’

I only wish I could smell them, as others seem able to do. I don’t have the nose for it, sadly.


Hamamelis x intermedia 'Primavera'


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Primavera’

All the freshness of lemon zest.


Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

Hamamelis is a slow growing small tree or shrub. It may be a while before these get large enough to command a real presence in the garden but it will be worth the wait. A mature witch hazel is something to behold.







My usually prolific camellia is having a less than good year. The sum total of its blooms can be fully appreciated in the shot above. All two of them. The fact that I decided it had outgrown its space, and chopped it down to half its previous size, may have had something to do with it..

It’ll be back.


Skimmia japonica


Skimmia japonica


So not a bad haul for January, all in all. I went out with the camera expecting to be back in again by morning coffee. In fact I was out for most of the day, buoyed up by the unaccustomed sunshine and deep blue skies. Today we are back to business as usual. I do wish I could export rain..


Cyclamen coum


Cyclamen coum


Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you will find many more January bloomers from around the world.


2018-01-15T12:04:48+00:00January 15th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. derrickjknight January 15, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Beautiful photographs, as ever. Thanks for the advice about the first shot

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      I’m gradually finding my way around the camera. I could hardly call myself an expert though.

  2. mwillburn January 15, 2018 at 11:29 am - Reply

    I forget how far ahead you guys are in the season – locked in ice here for a little longer it seems. Even the hellebores are reticent. Great photos – a pleasure to view.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Winters have been much milder in the last few years. But there is still plenty of time. Back in the day January and February were the coldest months. It certainly felt cold when I ventured out today.

  3. Caro January 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    The only blooms around me are a couple of snowdrops (the ones the foxes didn’t dig up) and a cyclamen that I recently bought from the supermarket for a bit of colour! The camellias have fat buds but no signs of opening, not even my bergenias are flowering, never mind any hellebores. And we didn’t have any sunshine yesterday. Feeling a bit miffed with London now but pleased to see that at least Devon is waking up to spring! 😀 xx (Btw, can I ask what camera you use for these photos Jessica?)

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      It may have been wishful thinking on my part. It’s a lot colder today. We’ve even had ‘thunder sleet’. And 60mph winds forecast for tonight.
      I used my Nikon bridge camera, Coolpix B700. I may lose some quality vs. the DSLR but at this time of year the long zoom is a godsend. It means I can take more shots from a distance thus reducing the amount of quagmire I have to pick my way across. And the macro facility is great for the tiny blooms that are so often a feature of winter gardens. I remember the first witch hazel I bought I felt rather cheated when I saw the size of the blooms versus the picture on the label. Now I use macro I know how they did it!

  4. Chloris January 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Lovely January blooms. Witch hazels don’t smell great in the garden but if you bring them inside, they are wonderfully fragrant.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      They will need to get a bit bigger before I find the heart to chop off a piece! Perhaps I should try one in a pot.

  5. justjilluk January 15, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    As you say – Blooming Lovely.x

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Any bloom is a delight to see in January!

  6. Jacqueline January 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    What a show and we’re only mid-January !! It just shows that the UK is beautiful, whatever the season and, Spring is just around the corner. Nearly time to look at those gardening catalogues and visit a few garden centres !!!! Happy 2018 to you and yours Jessica. XXXX

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      And the same to you Jackie!
      We’re back to winter today so Spring is feeling a long way off again. But it will come and every day more snowdrops appear in bloom.

  7. Linda Brazill January 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    What a lovely group of plants you have blooming. It is snowing here which we have desperately needed to insulate the plants. No snow and very cold temps this winter may prove fatal to a number of things. Hopefully not. Nice to get a jolt of spring at your site because it will be a couple of months (typically) before I see so much as a snowdrop.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Your garden does look beautiful in the snow though. I hope it came in time and the plants are snug and protected underneath. It always amazes me just how resilient most of them are.

  8. pollymacleod January 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica, what a delightful tour of your lovely garden. Your photos are beautiful. My garden is a sorry sight. I didn’t tidy it up properly in Autumn. I love snowdrops. I like the formation of witch hazel, I had one in my previous garden, I really must get one for my current garden.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Polly. Most of my garden is also a sorry sight. I tend to leave most perennials standing over winter but the storms have really knocked it about this year. And now it is so wet I can’t get out onto the soil. I’ve been wanting to get on with the tidying for weeks.

  9. Jennifer January 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I’m amazed to see so much blooming there in January. I love how you have thought to plant things that are always blooming somewhere in the garden. I would enjoy having snowdrops. I will have to see if they will grow in a desert climate. Yesterday we cleared out the old growth in our backyard planter beds and pruned roses. Now we need to prune the xeriscaping plants in the front yard. There are a few winter jasmine blossoms so far, right on time.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      I used to have a huge winter jasmine in my last garden. They are so cheery when little else is in bloom. I should get another one because I do like to have something in flower every month. December is the hardest one.

  10. Christina January 15, 2018 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Your images are always good but today’s post is amazing; did you have a new lens for Christmas by any chance? Lovely to see so many flowers making their presence felt in January.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Christina. No, no new lens!
      I am gradually extending the garden’s season but most of it does still look pretty miserable. I thought looking at yours today how fresh and undamaged it seems. The winter rain enhances yours, it flattens mine!

  11. Torrington Tina January 15, 2018 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos and quite a selection of beautiful things in bloom, far ahead of me. Have you not had the frost a few times to keep things tucked in for a bit longer yet? Happy New Year and see you soon.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      We’ve definitely had the frost, maybe more so because of the colder air trapped in the valley. Where we gain perhaps is by being sheltered from the wind. Happy New Year to you both.

  12. annamadeit January 15, 2018 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    That first image of the Leycesteria is just breathtaking, and the others aren’t far behind. All wonderful shots, as usual! I’ve never heard of Chrysosplenium macrophyllum – might have to look that one up. As for the Witch Hazel fragrance – or most other fragrant plants – I’m squarely in the camp of those with compromised olfactory talents. Too bad, but I am grateful I at least still have my eyes. Happy Bloom Day, Jessica!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      Oh, I’m glad I’m not alone. A scent has to really pungent before I can smell it. And even then only with my nose stuffed deep into the bloom (watching out for bees).

  13. Sam January 15, 2018 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Gosh, I bet is smells lovely in your garden with all those beautiful witch hazels. I miss mine in my old garden – sadly, they don’t grow well on chalk, according to the books; I don’t want to risk losing one by trying. Absolutely beautiful photos, as always.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sam. They are a bit of an investment. I have been collecting them slowly since we’ve been here, two at half price and one sourced for me by a friend for a fiver!

  14. Sarah Barker January 15, 2018 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    What a lovely collection of witch hazels , it must smell fantastic, it’s a shame you can’t smell them. It’s lovely to see so many of your plants already flowering, we only have the primroses so far. Sarah x

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      I’m not sure how many blooms will be left after the storms of the next few days! Winter flowers are a bit hit and miss. Although I do remember having roses at Christmas one year.

  15. Kris Peterson January 15, 2018 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I wish you could export rain too, albeit in gently applied increments. I’m glad you got a warm day in the garden to enjoy the first signs of spring. The first time I saw witch hazels I was more puzzled by the blooms than anything else but I’ve become fascinated by them. Unfortunately, I’m so far out of their range that it’s too much of a stretch to even consider pushing the envelope to try to grow them. I envy you their scent and their glorious warm colors. Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      The witch hazels are something of a highlight, principally because there is so little else blooming right now. We have had ‘thunder snow’ today. I would happily export that too if you were interested.

  16. Peter Herpst January 15, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Alas, I also cannot often smell Hamamelis but do so enjoy it’s winter blooms. Your garden is a bit ahead of mine and your photographs are excellent. Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      It’s been relatively mild so far. A couple of nights of frost but only a degree or two. Everything could yet change. I’ll appreciate the blooms while I have them. Thanks Peter.

  17. Brian Skeys January 15, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Lovely selection for January Jessica. I have a soft spot for Leycesteria especially the gold leafed form. The leaves and the flowers are beautiful.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I remember you showing a lovely photo of Leycesteria foliage last year. It looks glorious with the sun on the red tinged new leaves doesn’t it?

  18. Dorothy Borders January 15, 2018 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I love the look of your blog! It’s so nice to see your blooms. I have none in my garden this month. Happy Bloom Day.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      It says something about the weather for you to have no blooms, even in the depths of winter. You’re usually streets ahead of me. I hope Spring comes soon!

  19. bumbleandme January 15, 2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Beautiful flowers Jessica. Lots of inspiration for my winter garden in the wood too, thanks! X

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      It’s good to have some things that cheer us up through winter. I grow the witch hazels on the woodland edge, they have partial sun and seem to be OK with that. And the wild snowdrops are spreading gloriously with no help from me, even on our heavy clay soil.

  20. linda January 15, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    HI Jessica…
    Love the new look!! And your January blooms are incredibly beautiful!
    We are still snow covered here…and have been having record breaking low temps…
    Most of late Dec and early January in the -20c range!
    enjoy your week…
    Those Snowdrops are just the sweetest thing…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      Oh gosh, the lake must be frozen solid! Keep warm Linda. Nearly time for Florida?

  21. Susan Garrett January 15, 2018 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    It’s great to see the first few flowers of the year isn’t it?

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      It certainly is. As soon as the days visibly lengthen it all starts again. January is a good month.

  22. Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening January 16, 2018 at 12:01 am - Reply

    It’s always nice to see blooms in winter. The lovely blooms on your snowdrops and Hamamelis are a welcomed sight on this cold winters day. Happy January and Happy Bloom Day!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Your weather has made our news a number of times recently. I hope you and the plants are keeping warm! It amazes me how they pop up again every year in spite of such chills.

  23. Pauline January 16, 2018 at 6:31 am - Reply

    You have so many lovely flowers, your witch hazels are amazing, photos are superb! You will soon have a sheet of snowdrops on your bank, it will be wonderful!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      The snowdrops look better every year. This time I’m going to move some around, I think the bank can spare a few. I only wish the ‘specials’ would multiply as fast.

  24. bitaboutbritain January 16, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Wonderful shots! But I had to check your post several times, my diary and the weather outside – I’m pretty sure we live on the same island, yet you seem to have near-tropical conditions down your way! A camellia in bloom in January? Good grief. And Leycesteria – what I know, I think, as ‘Pheasant Berry’ – it used to be popular in Victorian gardens I believe. Not being any sort of gardener, I only know this because I used to have one in a past garden. Clearly, the last owner had been quite old. The shrub was prolific. Happy New Year!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      You are right, Leycesteria is called Pheasant Berry. It was one of the reasons I decided to grow it, other than the seeds being a freebie that is. I thought it would be a treat for Ptolemy et al but I don’t know why I bothered. I noticed today that something has munched my biggest and best clump of hellebores, every single bud, and the pheasants do have Previous in that regard.

  25. bittster January 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    What a nice tour on a beautiful day. So glad to see that the garden has had a chance to dry out a little bit and the gardener as well!

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Well it had until today. We are back to the biblical stuff with thunder, lightning, hail, the lot. The gardener has retreated indoors.

  26. Denise January 16, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I am rather taken with the witch hazels. I may be tempted to get a couple for here. The primroses you sent a positively rampant! I’m expecting flowers soon.

    • Jessica January 16, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Oh good, I’m glad the primroses are thriving. They might even start seeding themselves around this year and then you might not thank me. We have so many here now that Mike mows over them in the lawn.

  27. Virginia January 17, 2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Wonderful photos Jessica! Absolute Works of Art! The first one had me mesmerised. Thank you.

    We are in High Summer and Heat Wave Mode here in New Zealand, with the hottest period of weather for a few years, interspersed with torrential rain – two months downpour in a couple of days, causing massive problems, of course! So much for “no such thing as climate change”!!!

    • Jessica January 17, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

      That first pic was taken on the off chance having spotted the possibility from afar. I didn’t realise quite how good it was until I blew it up on the computer. Better than some of the ones I sweated blood over. At least I don’t need to run the gauntlet of quite so many brambles anymore.
      Climate records are being reset the world over. Torrential rain is becoming an increasing feature here too. Keep safe Virginia, your weather forecast does look pretty awful.

  28. London Cottage Garden January 17, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Fabulous photographs. Dare I say it – as good as Hugh’s photos on Dan Pearson’s DigDelve and that’s saying something `I think!

    • Jessica January 17, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Julie you are too kind, thank you. High praise indeed.

  29. Jenni January 18, 2018 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Goodness, I am so delighted to find your blog alive and well! I love the front page formatting!! Spring could be early here in the Pacific NW too. I’m not a bit sad. I take that back…if I’m handwatering in March…I’ll be fairly ticked off 😉 The pics of your snow drops and cyclem’s are so well done! Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica January 18, 2018 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jenni. I don’t know. I’d take hand watering in March if I could trade that for an early end to winter. In the UK January and February are typically the coldest months so I doubt it’s done with us yet. I can hope though!

  30. smallsunnygarden January 19, 2018 at 4:11 am - Reply

    I love the confetti of your witch hazels. 🙂 And I’m placing a pre-order for some of your surplus rain; we’ve had just one rainfall since last August.
    It must be fabulous to watch your carpet of snowdrops increasing; and your cyclamen are lovely. As are your photos!

    • Jessica January 22, 2018 at 10:42 am - Reply

      You are welcome to my surplus rain Amy. It’s now impossible to garden. Even the paths now boast seemingly permanent pools of standing water. Oh roll on Spring.

  31. Cathy January 19, 2018 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Oh your photographs, Jessica…. wonderful, as always. I am in awe – you could show us a photo of the humblest weed and make it look as if it was the most precious plant in the world 🙂 Glad to see your witch hazels are doing well for you – but is your ‘Robert’ really a reliable 2 tone colour like your photo suggests? Perhaps I needn’t have splashed out on my very expensive Straberries and Cream’ after all…! For my vases, I find a stray sprig on a witch hazel, one that is perhaps growing across another, or very low to the ground, so that it won’t be missed – but I know what you mean about being reluctant to cut them

    • Jessica January 22, 2018 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Thanks Cathy. I hadn’t really noticed the 2 tone colour of ‘Robert’ until I took that close up shot. Looking back on previous years it does seem to be a feature, although not as marked as it is this year. As the witch hazels are maturing it is approaching time to do some selective thinning out. As long as it doesn’t harm them to do it now then I shall look forward to vases in the future.

  32. Indie January 20, 2018 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    So many blooms already! Gorgeous! So nice to get view of early spring, which is still a couple more months out here where I live. I love your ‘Robert’ Witch Hazel. I just planted a little witch hazel last year, and I am so excited to see it bloom this spring.

    • Jessica January 22, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

      The witch hazel is one of the first things in bloom for us and for me, along with the snowdrops, it is a sign of the start of the new season. You may have to wait a little longer but I’m sure the pleasure will be all the better when it comes!

  33. CherryPie January 21, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    You have lots of early pretty blooms 🙂

    • Jessica January 22, 2018 at 10:50 am - Reply

      I’m trying to give myself something in bloom for every month of the year. Especially in winter it makes such a difference.

  34. stephanie young January 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    i am totally bowled over with all you have blooming outside. I have loads of dried, dead blooms that never made a fall/winter cleanup….and that’s IT. Brown, grey, tan, with a red holly berry thrown in here and there. Luckily, I started my amaryllis really late this year, so I’ve got indoor blooms to make up for it. And a faithful orchid that never lets me down in January. All it good!!!!

    • Jessica January 22, 2018 at 10:54 am - Reply

      At least you have holly berries. Every year the blackbirds get all of mine. Either that or all my bushes are the same sex. Perhaps I ought to facilitate some new introductions and see what happens.

  35. Diana Studer January 29, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Send a little rain way down south? Even a few millimetres would help. We may get 2 on Tuesday.

    • Jessica January 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      I’d love to. It’s apparently one of the wettest winters on record here. Seriously though, I’ve been following the situation in Cape Town and understand the desperate need for rain. The climate has gone crazy everywhere.

  36. Heyjude February 1, 2018 at 1:29 am - Reply

    Your photos are so good! Love the witch hazels in particular. I can’t understand why I haven’t been following you!! But that has been rectified now.

    • Jessica February 3, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

      Thanks Jude. The witch hazels have done well this year. They are all relatively new trees so it does take them a while to settle in. And I had the advantage of one of those gorgeous but rare West Country sunny days!

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