January is the official start of the new year, but if you ask a gardener, they might laugh and shake their heads at the notion.
The garden is asleep; ideally it’s covered in snow. January is simply another month in the long slumber of winter. If you are lucky, you might see some snowdrops in February, but they can all too easily be covered by another winter storm.
When does the year really begin for gardeners? Probably in March, when the first crocus shoots, and perennials start poking up through the soil. It’s the time when you can actually think of buying a flat of cold hardy pansies. The time when the idea of getting back to the garden and really digging in becomes closer to reality. Certainly not January.
However, even in the depths of January there are moments, previews really, of what’s to come. Things that give you that little rush that, in spite of many weeks of winter to endure, the new gardening year is getting closer. For me, recently, it was seeing a healthy flower shoot emerging in a pot of Amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis flower (Hippeastrum) bulbs are a necessary part of winter survival for me. When I saw it had a shoot, I actually gave out a yip of excitement. It’s alive! It’s going to bloom!
The days are also getting a tiny bit longer each day. The indoor plants are responding ever so slightly, with larger, sturdier leaves. The worst of of winter’s darkness is behind us. The new year of our gardens isn’t that far off.