Snowdrops (Galanthus) January 9, 2021

First Signs of…

Someone I worked with used to declare, as we all returned to the office after the Christmas break, “Okay, now it’s spring!” The rest of us would beg to differ, because rain, cold, and even snow are possible until March or even April.

But my coworker had a point. If you know where to look, even early in January, you can see plants budding or even blooming.

Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) January 9 2021
Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius)
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" January 9, 2021
Hellebore “Ruby Wine”
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" January 9, 2021
“Ruby Wine” close-up
Algerian iris (Iris unguicularis) January 9, 2021
Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis)

Best of all, as far as I’m concerned, the Chinese witch hazel, which hardly ever blooms, has managed a respectable show, due to extra watering last summer. OK, this is a pretty substandard photo, but if you look carefully, you can see the threadlike yellow flowers in the upper third of the picture. If you look even more carefully, you might spot a dark-eyed junco (bird) perched on a branch. These juncos are frequent visitors to the bird feeder all winter.

Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in bloom January 9, 2021
Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in bloom, with visiting Dark-eyed Junco
Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis species
Chinese Witch Hazel flowers close-up

All photos taken January 9, 2021, except the last one, which is from January 2015


    1. Plant breeders have been busy with hellebores for a while now, so there are some amazing ones out there–doubles, interesting colours, etc. This is one of three I bought a few years ago, and one of my faves.
      And I’m always amazed that those irises bloom in winter!

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        1. Well, our winters are pretty mild. I don’t think any would survive real winters, with snow that persists and long stretches of below freezing temps. These Algerian irises are probably OK in most coastal US areas, though. There is also Iris reticulata, which is a small iris that blooms about the same time as daffodils.

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  1. Audrey, wonderful spring flowers and it is heartening to see signs of it out in the garden! Bulbs are soon ready to bloom here and the birds sound happier, singing as the sun shines! Oh, your beautiful hellebores has given me a bit of a guilty conscience… we are having some work done in the garden and some plants, like the hellebores had to be dug up!

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    1. Yes, only a few weeks after the solstice and plants and birds are revving up for spring. Pity about your hellebores; you could always get more. There are some gorgeous ones available now. 😀
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Annika!

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  2. We have dandelions, winter jasmine, and camellias in bloom. Some people have had daffodils bloom but I have not personally seen any yet. Last year, one of the nearby fields had all of their purple crocuses bloom in January. We drove by yesterday and I didn’t notice anything. Oh well. We have gained over 1/2 hour of sunshine in the afternoon and maybe 10 minutes in the morning. Yay, Spring!

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    1. I’ve noticed the days are longer too. It’s interesting that some plants bloom at different times in different years. They must know something. I haven’t seen any camellias out yet, although they’re budding up. Same with daffodils. Their day will come! Of course, we could still get a cold snap.

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  3. We got snow like cotton balls falling from heaven yesterday (here in VA), and you got blooming hellebores? I wonder if being so close to the water makes your growing season start earlier, warmer air or something.

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    1. Yes, there’s definitely a marine influence here, and we’ve had a few “pineapple express” storms, otherwise known as “atmospheric rivers.” Warm and wet, with high temps around 50F and hardly any below freezing days (yet). I love your description of the snow!


  4. My one deep red hellebore, which I bought in a fifty pence pot at a summer fete years ago, is already in bud. Each year I forget what it’s called till I see one of your gardening posts Audrey.

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  5. My red hellebore is the first to bloom around here, Audrey. It appears a month before anything else. Living in mild Oregon it’s easy to agree with your coworkers statement. No snow yet this year and the grass is green.

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  6. I’m never ready for spring until I have at least one good snow – which doesn’t happen often here. That iris photo reminded me I planted bulbs last fall, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve never had luck with bulbs before.

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