So, what does the garden have to offer this first week of January?
Nighttime temperatures have been regularly dropping into the low 20s F lately, so I had no hopes for a long list. And the short list is indeed short, but it includes some flowers which make a trip out into the otherwise quiet garden well worthwhile. Here it is: Jasminum nudiflorum, Galanthus elwesii, Chimonanthus praecox, Helleborus foetidus and Iris unguicularis. In one of the unprotected cold frames Crocus ochroleucus is blooming.
In the protected cold frame, some of the little white-flowered hoop petticoat daffodils are about to bloom, as are Narcissus tazetta ‘Ziva’ and N. pachybolbus. This last is a white-flowered daffodil of the tazetta group, smaller in all parts except its bulb than ‘Ziva’.
The handsomest of all of these, and – given the weather - the most unseemly, is Iris unguicularis, the Algerian iris. This grows in the open air planted right against a wall of the house. It gets covered nightly. Last year I discovered that it will reward this slight bother with intermittent bloom from November until April. At this time of year it's a real treat to linger over this plant and soak up the gorgeous color.
While walking Biscuit the other day I noticed that the buds of Acer rubrum seemed to be swollen a bit: it’s ready to go, too.