During January at RHS Garden Hyde Hall we had a real mix of winter weather: some of the days we were blessed with winter sun that will always lift the spirits; some days snow graced us and brought us to a halt; some days the rain was relentless and we just simply hoped it would stop soon; and on other days the temperature was kind and we were able to work within our woollen layers, neatly tucked in and enjoying our surroundings.
As we work we are wary of emerging bulbs: snowdrops, such as Galanthus nivalis might spoil if we rake too close to them; Crocus tommasinianus, that are starting to pop through sometimes fall fate to the moorhens who peck at their petals; Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconites) which shine in the dark brown mulch of the borders cheer us; and the very first daffodils are a tease of what is to come.
In the Upper Pond area the intense blue colour from Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' draws the eye, and, a little more subtle in the Robinson Garden, Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' emerges at the corners of the bridges. Also in the Robinson Garden there is the lovely scent of Sarcococca confusa (left) - as visitors pass by they often comment on the delights they exude. Meanwhile, at the Lower Pond, the velvety framework of the Rhus typhina (stag's horn sumach) are magnificent at the edges of the beds - so be sure to touch them as you pass by.
The Cyclamen coum (right) are a dainty sight and pleasing to the eye. Here and there are leftover berries to be had by the birds, some ripe and juicy red ones that they will pick through on the bare branches of deciduous shrubs.
Squirrels dash past us in a flash, always seeming to be going somewhere in a hurry, blackbirds hang around and wait for us to disturb the worms as easy pickings, hares crouch and hide themselves in the borders as we pass by sometimes making a dash for it, giving us a real treat that I will never tire of.
Wrap up warm and be sure to visit us this winter and spring as we would love to share all these delights with you.