Greenfingers - January 2019

The Christmas hyacinths are all shooting, but look a tad under-developed. They are in the light but cool greenhouse at present, as I hesitate to bring  them into the warmer house until they are a bit further on. Other indoor plants can suffer during the winter, with the low light levels, so consider moving them to a windowsill or porch, but try to minimise the watering and temperature variations.

Interest and some colour in thegarden at this time of year is always welcome, and can be achieved with a combination of seed heads, fruit and berries, bark, flowersteazle and foliage. Teazles produce an interesting  seed head, beloved of goldfinches, and the flowers attract pollinators during the summer. Also Miscanthus form tall, structural seedheads.

Berries are produced on many plants and, again, provide a food source for birds during the winter. The mountain ash, hawthorn, callicarpa, and sweet box, (Sarcococca )offer berries in red, purple and black, with the Sarcococca also producing sweetly scented flowers.

Apples left on the tree can also provide an interesting spectacle, such as that on the A419 at Mill Close. Colourful bark can be found on Acer, Salix, Betula, Cornus and Rubus, and for flowers, as well as winter bedding, shrubs of Mahonia and Stachyurus, and lower growing Helleborus produce lots of wintercolour.

There are some interesting astronomical events coming up in January, mostly in the early mornings. The Quadrantids meteor shower on the night of 3rd and morning of 4th coincides with a thin crescent moon, so should not interfere with the viewing.

The full moon on 21st will be at perigee and will look slightly larger than usual,but will be covered by the earth’s shadow in a total lunar eclipse from 04.42 to 05.44, with the partial eclipse starting at 03.34 until 06.51. And in the pre-dawn sky of the 22nd Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction, just 2.4degrees apart, though quite low in the sky.

Pete Smith