• The Chichester Gardener

Hidden life


This time of year can be especially hard for some, the short days, lack of vitamin D and perhaps hardly enticing outdoor weather. I have always found it hard that January is a long month but the hope of spring in the not too distant future is enough to cling on to.

But I urge you to look down, close and inspect the cold, muddy soil for life is

growing under it and beginning to rear its head. The first bulbs are appearing,

Iris unguicularis or the Algerian Iris has to be one of the kindest and most beautiful delights we can cheer ourselves up with this time of year.

This tiny rhizomatous perennial produces the most delicate and violet of petals - too stunning not to pick and cheer up a kitchen table with.

Keep looking and you might find Galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop) peeking through or a Cyclamen coum. If you don't have any snowdrops buy a few now and plant them in the green in a few weeks, next winter will thank you for it I promise!

With January gone we can look forward to Crocus chrysanthus and Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite) rearing their heads and providing some much needed winter colour in our landscapes.

So I encourage you, seek out this new life and allow it to lift your spirits and bring hope that spring is nearly with us.