Six on Saturday- Flowers from my Garden 4th Jan 2020

Winter flowers are more precious to me than summer blooms. In summer there’s an abundance of riches, and sometimes flowers go unnoticed with too much rushing about, keeping on top of the weeding. But in winter there’s time to stop and pause, and jewel-like colours lift the mood. Today I’ve picked my favourite blue Algerian iris. How can anything so delicate survive the cold! It looks like it is made of silk. I have a huge untidy patch of Iris unguicularis right by my front door. All summer we trip over the long strap-like leaves, and constantly threaten to dig it up. But from November to May there’s a daily flush of flowers, arriving in ones and twos. They last for a week, brought indoors. Perfect for a tiny Victorian glass vase. Iris unguicularis likes to be planted at the base of a south-facing wall. Heat and drought seem to suit it well.

My iris naturally flowers in winter, but there are also roses in flower, quite out of season. This is Rosa Phyllis Bide, a wonderful rambler which reliably puts on a show from early summer right through to autumn. I’ve also managed to find some Viburnum Dawn and Lisarose, and a sprig or alstroemeria from the poly tunnel. A cheerful, scented posy for the kitchen table.

After meandering around the plot I head for the garden gate and set off along the ridgeway walk. Fortunately it’s a dry day and the footpath conditions are improving. It’s been the wettest autumn for 50 years and farmers struggled to get in the harvest or sow autumn crops. In the distance there’s field after field of maize still standing. As far as the eye can see, fields stand fallow. There’s no lovely green shoots of winter wheat, barley or oil seed.

There’s only two crab apples left. Mammals and birds have had a feast. There’s been an abundance of fruit and berries this winter. Rosehips dripped like blood from the hedgerow. Huge flocks of fieldfares fly overhead and alight on the hedges to strip them bare. Resident blackbirds try their best to defend their ‘larder,’ but they are defeated by the noisy, marauding visitors. Luckily I’ve a store of cooking apples at home and I’ll throw a few out every day if the weather turns cold. Sometimes this bounty, regularly distributed, is the difference between life and death for birds. I generally rely on planting berried shrubs in the garden to provide natural food. But if it turns really icy, I’ll buy some mealworms, nuts and seeds.

As usual, I look for signs of spring. I know there’s a months of cold weather to come, but it’s heartening to find fat buds on the oak trees, above, and grey catkins on willow. Back home, the winter-flowering honeysuckle is in bloom and the scent wafts around the garden. It’s always a surprise to find such a delicious scent emanating from such insignificant flowers. I’ve wound some stems through a silver birch wreath, along with fluffy wild clematis seed heads. After Christmas I miss the decorations. I keep the festive feeling going, but swap to spring flowers instead. This will look lovely and cheerful over the summerhouse door.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a walk around my garden and along the ridgeway today. What flowers have you seen in bloom already? Get in touch and let me know what’s bringing you joy in your garden over the winter.

Links: iris unguicularis

Rose Phyllis Bide:

Wild crab apples:

Lonicera winter flowering :


24 thoughts on “Six on Saturday- Flowers from my Garden 4th Jan 2020

  1. There is always something blooming here. There is less of it in winter, but there is always something. It is difficult to say which of them are blooming ‘already’, since they are mostly on schedule. For us, winter is for pruning and planting. Winter is brief so we need to hurry. Bloom does not get our attention like it does in autumn.

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  2. I love Karen the blue Iris. The blooming roses are divine. The fabulous alstroemeria. It is a magnificent vase and I love it. The field is wonderful with the sun shining and the crest the middle to walk. I am very sorry that it has been the wettest fall in 50 years and that farmers cannot plant. Karen, how good you are with wild animals, always thinking about their well-being. You are going to plant plants with berries for them and feed them if it is too cold. Here in Madrid, when there were sparrows and blackbirds, I gave them bread crumbs, seeds and some apples. And in the cottage I have seed feeders and an apple tree that all apples are for animals: birds and so on; I spread the mangoes in the corners of the garden and also leave them at the foot of the apple tree. Signs of Spring: fat shoots in the oaks and gray catkins in the willow, I love it. Your honeysuckle that blooms in Winter must be wonderful. I love the crown in which you put honeysuckle to put it on the door of the Summer House. It’s true, Christmas is suddenly over and we run out of ornaments. Flower crowns are always wonderful at any time of the year. Karen I really enjoyed the walk through your fantastic garden and the crest, it seemed that I was going to your side with Meg. Karen a lot of love, a lot of health, a lot of strength for your whole family, Mr B and for you. Take care Loving caresses to Grace and Meg. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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  3. Yes, winter flowers are worth their weight in gold, Karen! I didn’t realise these irises flowered for such a long period – I remember first seeing them as a big clump flowering at Plas Newydd in Anglesey early one December

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    • Thank you 😊 The alstroemeria was cut back in late summer, then I stopped watering it and put it behind the shed in a cold place. I started watering again in November to get winter flowers after a period of dormancy. You don’t get many, but they are such a treat when it’s cold . They are growing in an unheated poly tunnel. Thanks for reading

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  4. I was shocked to see daffodil leaves poking two inches above the ground. That shouldn’t happen for another month or so. They’ll be sorry today, because there is snow on the ground. I know they will be fine. Don’t rush the season, for I love winter.

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    • Hope you daffs are ok. They have a kind of natural antifreeze in them I think which helps them cope with cold weather. I must admit, I love spring and I’m not fond of rain, rain, rain. But winter dry weather I love. Have a good week, Anne. Xx

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  5. That was a lovely stroll thanks Karen. It’s surprising that so few people continue to hang or make wreathes beyond the Christmas season. If anything they lift your spirits more in the hard months before spring. Definitely signs of hope up here in the east of Scotland; snowdrop tips appearing in clumps, buds swelling and even one or two trees starting to come in to leaf. I know there can be many false dawns but it definitely feels different from even a couple of weeks ago.

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    • Thanks for reading, Keith, and for your kind words. Yes it definitely feels different from a few weeks ago. I found some gold eranthis just poking through the ground today. I love carpets of gold before the snowdrops emerge. Gives us hope. Have a good week up there in Scotland. Best wishes, karen

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  6. That’s a rather spectacular iris and as you say all the more precious for flowering in winter.
    I enjoyed having the fieldfares visit during the beast from the East. They don’t normally make it to my garden and they have a pleasant song when not scrapping over food.

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    • Thank you. It’s worth getting hold of a clump of that iris. There’s also a white one and a lilac variety I’m after. They last a week in a vase. I’ve never seen as many fieldfares. There were hundreds today. What a noise they make when they all sit in the oak tree. The blackbirds are not happy. Have a good week in the garden. Things are moving now the days are getting longer. Gives us hope.


      • I’ve seen a lot of the garden as been off for the two weeks but now I’m heading back to work I won’t see as much but noticing it get better in the mornings. I’ve got a lot of white flowers to greet me on the walk into my house that still stand out in the low light of winter.

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