A graceful snowdrop called ‘Ailwyn’, shiny yellow greenhouse lemons and a first hellebore – the January garden is revving up with plenty to offer.

Greenhouse lemonsGreenhouse lemon

This plant was a gift for my birthday almost three years ago and has just had its best crop ever. After a summer in the garden this small potted tree is in the greenhouse where the temperature has remained just above zero, even on the coldest nights so far.

I now pander to it with specialist fertiliser.  Most of my plants only get a liquid seaweed or tomato food but I’ve found citrus tricky, the leaves showing a deficiency of something, I’m just not sure what.  Using a specialist citrus feed reassured me that whatever it’s been missing, it’s now getting.  My reward – six lemons!Greenhouse lemon

Viburnum bodnantense Viburnum bodnantense

The best specimens of this shrub are smothered each winter in clusters of pretty pink flowers – like the explosion of a candy floss machine.  Mine is sprinkled rather than smothered but the flowers are pretty nonetheless.  The shrub itself has a lovely structure and shape.  This wall of the house faces north and gets no sun so with that context, I’m happy enough with how this shrub is performing.  Viburnum bodnantense

Galanthus ‘Ailwyn’ (aka ‘Lady Fairhaven’)

Galanthus ailwyn

My snowdrop passion continues to burn.  I was fussing about on Ebay this week and almost bid on some rather expensive ones but realised lockdown was getting the better of me and I should back away.  Afterwards I scrolled through many websites of snowdrop nurseries and whilst I was tempted by a few, I’ve realised that I already possess many of my favourites – and Ailwyn is one of them.Galanthus ailwyn

Some double snowdrops are a bit unrefined but not this lovely lady.  When closed, the flowers have the fullness of a Spanish infanta’s skirts and sure enough, tip them up and you see layers and layers of the petticoat-like inner sepals.Galanthus ailwynGalanthus ailwyn

As these ones are in a pot, I brought them into the greenhouse to open up in the warmth.  You can see the difference in these two pictures.

Lampranthus updateLampranthus winter damage

This bedraggled mess is more limpranthus than Lampranthus.  It was my knock-out rock garden plant of 2020, smothered in large sun-loving daisy flowers with filaments as long as false eyelashes.

Lampranthus flower

It had grown so well and draped itself so attractively over the nearby rocks that I decided to leave it be and test its hardiness.  Whilst the fleshy needle-shaped leaves have dropped off, the main stems still seem firm and robust so I’m hoping it’ll spring back to life once the weather warms up.  If not then I’m pleased I had the foresight to take some cuttings.  All have rooted and are safe in the greenhouse.Lampranthus cuttings

Highlights in the greenhouse

It’s official – my greenhouse is a mess.  The plants need a good checking over, move around and picking over.  It’s a job I’m saving for a sunny day when the warmth under glass will be hard to resist.

Until then, I shall ignore the mess and focus instead on the things that are looking great – like the pure white lewisia which is loving the cool, airy dryness of the greenhouse and the potted snowdrop Helen Tomlinson.

First HelleboreHellebore flower

I say it each year but Hellebores up close just look so exotic.  Maybe it’s the shape or maybe the speckled markings but either way it wouldn’t look out of place in a greenhouse of tropical specimens.  Yet they’re  as tough as anything.  Plants really are amazing.


This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday.  For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.