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As a preface to this entry to my garden journal I should say that on Monday I cancelled the ‘pop-up’ NGS day planned to take place on 14th February. Quite simply : the parking field is waterlogged. This is such a shame because despite being tested by wind and rain for two months solid, the grasses are in great shape.

Sky on a frosty morning

Hard on the heels of a disappointing decision two consecutive days of frost and dazzling sunshine created a very welcome change of scene in the garden. Tuesday and Wednesday started with wonderful predawn skies to the south.

January sunrise

Promising first light was followed by flamingo-pink sunrises to the east.

Sunrise grasses terrace in frost

An early morning moment spent watching the low angled winter sun filtering though the Thujas and illuminating the terrace in front of the house is my idea of wintry heaven.

Winter garden catching first rays

Transitory rays of sunlight struck two young birches in the winter garden behind the grasses, all too soon they’d moved on. One lone anemanthele in the row lining the drive was momentarily set ablaze.

Miscanthus hedge frost

At first glance the indefatigable miscanthus hedge looked untouched.

Miscanthus rudbeckia frost

At its knees a hint of frost lingered here long enough to add a lacy fringe to the seedheads.

Among the crystals riming them the melt had begun, the droplets refracted the light daring me to capture them. The fuzzy results reveal a myriad of glistening rainbows.

Dogs paddock January

Sodden turf strewn with long shadows in the deserted dogs’ paddock made me shiver and sigh, beneath a crispy coating the clay will stay saturated like a sponge for weeks to come.

Split echinacea cone

Atop tangled stems, echinacea cones become more curiously ragged by the day revealing secrets of their structure. Does this one look like a miniature prehistoric monster?

Frosty shows like this have been in pitifully short supply this winter making their brief midweek cameos extra special.

View of frosted planting from back door

For two whole days the view through the north-facing boot room door remained heavily frosted until Thursday morning, reminding me to reach for the hat I hate wearing.

Patio with shadows cast by reflected light

In contrast to the east side of the house, here tall windows bounced light around to cast cunning shadows across the lower terrace. They had me outfoxed for a while – standing square-on and looking across the patio the sun was to my right, not left.

Pennisetum fairy tails frost January

In the back garden I put my winter blinkers on, in its smaller areas some of the planting is patchy. Among the things I enjoyed most this week were the pennisetums, especially the leafy mound of ‘Fairy Tails’ on sentry duty at the entrance to the orchard.

Hakonechloa January sunshine

But, the most memorable sight was the hakonechloa glorying in sunshine beneath the yellow bamboo canes. As with many grasses, slightly damp dried leaves show richer colours, even on a dull day.


In February over a hundred gardens across the country are opening for the NGS to take part in its very first Snowdrop Festival, including several on our muddy doorstep in Gloucestershire. Now we know why so few amateurs open their gardens in late winter, we’ll make the most of those who are brave enough to fling wide their gates in celebration of the heralds of Spring. And, we’ll really appreciate being able to park our car on firm ground.