January sees the first signs of new life in garden with bulbs pushing through the soil. In favoured areas Snowdrops and Crocus may be in flower, but in the cool, wet of Cheshire we have to wait until well into February for this. However some flowers, often of a surprising kind, are showing in our gardens.
Kniphofia sarmentosa often flowers during the winter months, the flower heads taking from November through to January to push up and open their buds. In the low light levels the flowers do not achieve there full orange glow, but are welcome none the less. At this time of year many Kniphofia will become dormant and die back to buds just below ground level. Provided your soil isn't constantly water logged you should not worry when this happens. Some types, "Little Maid" amongst them, may not reappear until well into May, so give them time before giving them up for dead.
On Kniphofia that retain their leaves, cut worms can be a winter pest - watch out for them sitting, snug down in the centre of a leave stem eating the tender growth in the centre.
Phlomis russelliana has pepper pot seed heads that become iced with frost. Cut them off carefully in February, keeping them upright to avoid hundreds of very viable seeds spilling onto your border.
Our Hazel hedgerow begins its show in January becoming clothed in catkins that produce clouds of pollen on dry sunny days.
We have half a dozen varieties in the hedge each with its own size and shape of catkin.
Pulmonaria rubra "Bowles Red" can be relied on put forth its pale red flowers in January right through to early June.