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A Good Day In January

I remember seeing the sun. It was warm and glowing and lit the morning like blessings from Heaven. But that seems a long time ago. January has been sodden to the core with day after endless days of rain and more on the way. All normal for my part of the country.A typical January skySomewhere to the north, this moisture translates to idylic drifts of snow and winter wonderlands. (I can call it idyllic because I don't have to live with it.) Here we get mush.

Today between rain showers I went for a walk with Autumn the cat. An over exposed photo gives Autumn an angelic look. Talk to the ground squirrels about that!While I admired spots of color in the landscape, Autumn frolicked amidst the wet shrubs and rolled in clumps of moss and batted fallen twigs. She pretended to stalk hidden beasts until she was tired, then finally curled up in my lap as I sat on the arbor swing. It was a good day in January.

The old camellia bush at the top of the hydrangea walk is covered with buds and blooms. The air was warm today, but I fear for the shrub as freezing temperatures are predicited by next week, and I don't know how the flowers will do. For now the camellia is beautiful. I like how the bright red flowers contrast with the persistent dried blooms of the hydrangea 'Limelight'.

The hellebores are also beginning to bloom. These fabulous flowers will persist for months, beginning in purple, pink, and creamy colors, eventually all shading to pale green. For more information about hellebores, see my post, The Underworld of Hellebores.

Pieris japonica 'Cavatine' is growing well down from the patio. This dwarf andromeda grows to about two feet tall by four feet wide. It has lily of the valley type buds which swell over the winter, and they are nearly as pretty as the flowers.

Here are some more colorful accents to the gray January day:Clockwise from top left: I am amazed at this two year old decorative cabbage. It has grown atop a narrow stalk and is nearly two feet tall; Daphne odora 'Aureo marginata' is begiinning to bud; Nandina 'Firepower' is an evergreen shrub with lovely color year round; The first daffodil to bloom in my garden.

I really enjoyed all of these sights, but I was most thrilled when a Cardinal landed in a shrub about five feet from me.

I already had my camera in hand, focused in the direction of the shrub when this redbird arrived and posed for me, for just a few seconds — until he caught sight of Autumn! Could I have appreciated his scarlet vestments so much, if not for the gray background?

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Reader Comments (32)

Even grey weather has its little benefits, like highlighting the regal cardinal even more :) So many beautiful things still out there to admire even at this time of the year. Those camellias in bloom, and everything else are a welcome sight on dreary winters day!

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

My cat loves it when I am in the garden but its me she stalks, jumping out from under bushes. I love hellebores too and mine are in tight bud at the moment but hopefully with a bit of sun it will all change

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

How nice to see so much going on in your winter garden. And that cardinal is shameless, posing like that!

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Nice to have a good day outside, its been changable here so some good and some bad. I'm envious of Daphne odora 'Aureo marginata' I've always wanted to grow it. I love the perfume. I saw some Cardinals in Central Park a week ago, such amazingly coloured birds. Christina

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Lovely pics! I'm very jealous - nothing is blooming here, it's just brown... All the better, I suppose, to make us appreciate spring, which seems a very long time away :O)

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

A lovely selection of flowers Deb, it lifts the soirits to see them all and makes us think that spring can't be far away! Your cardinal is a super handsome bird, are the females the same? It showed up so well against the grey sky, far better than if the sun had been shining!!

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

How lucky you were that the cardinal landed so close! You managed to get a couple of great shots before he took off again.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

You were lucky. Those cardinals are a tad skittish. He gave you a great pose too. I went out this morning to see the front garden and with all are snow melted, the alyssum was flowering. You have many pretty bloomers, but here, it is a climate not too friendly to plants making flowers.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Such a pretty bird, Camellias are a blessing in the cooler weather.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

How nice to see blooms this early...mine will be out sometime in April...I live in that winter wonderland that has melted

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

What a wonderful post! Autumn is one smart cat to have adopted you. That daphne is beautiful. I love the white rimmed leaves against the purple buds. :o)

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

The days may be gray, but you still have all of those spots of color to hold you over till true spring arrives. Imagine, to have daffodils in January! See how blessed you are!

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL

Your camellia is gorgeous! Oh and you have a Daphne too! Those have the most heavenly fragrance.

We've had some ridiculously warm temps the last couple of days. A good amount of rain too this winter too. I rather dread the gray days in winter.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSweetbay

Wow Deb! I was enjoying your photography and your enjoyment of the focused pleasures of winter when POP! along came that Cardinal!!!! What a glorious experience - and what a glorious post!

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack Holloway

Not long till spring, Deb. I'm convinced that cats have split personalities.

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

Wow, that is a wonderful display for January! Lucky you!!
Thanks for sharing!
God bless....Brooke

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke

Deb - your blog and photos are like a breath of Spring air! (Because it's still freeeeezing up here in Ontario). Loved the Hellebores, the Daphne and the beautiful red Cardinal. Please keep taking those strolls and snapping those pix :)

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

What can I say? Your garden is incredibly beautiful even when it's gray, Deb. The collage of blooms and foliage made me sigh out loud. And your Camellias and Hellebores had me swooning. But I know what you mean about the browns and grays and in-between temperatures. I'd take blue sky, snow, and highs in the 20s over gray skies, rain, and 30s-40s. It's the wet cold that really goes to your bones. Our winters in the north are dry, at least (small consolation, I know). Great post!

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

Hi Deb, It is sunny here this morning, but it is all the colder for it. (I always think that it tis ironic that temperatures are warmer when it is overcast and snowing.) We are pretty brown here (no snow), so it is nice to visit more southern blogs and see early spring flowers already.
I have good news for you by the way. You are a winner in the latest book draw and have won a copy of the Roots of my Obsession. It is not fancy as garden books go, but there are lots of great authors in this collection of essays. I hope you will enjoy reading it. Can I get your mail address? You can reach me by email at jenc_art@hotmail.com

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

You've brought me back to White Rock, and the temperate ocean location for a mental visit....sigh.

Living there, and where you live is like living in a beautiful bubble...when I look outside here the bubble pops right away. It's white, and cold, and there it is, it's life. So nice to live vicariously through your blog.
Definitely drop by and visit, maybe you can put some wonderful colorful photos up for those of us in a white out.


January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

I enjoyed your Yappon Holly post and sometimes hear on the gardening programmes about men and power tools, I bought myself an electric trimmer last year and love it, I do not use it much but it is worth it for the time and hard work it saves me, especially cutting the privit hedge,
I love your over exposed photo of autumn, despite your grey skies you have a lot of colour in your garden and you will be glad of the full water butts in the summer, Frances

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsland Threads

Oh, you really do have a lot of color in your garden! I have not truly ventured out in mine to see if anything is blooming. Your camellia is just wonderful, as are your hellebores. So nice to have January flowers!

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

So much color..........in January no less. And to have your camera, the cardinal , AND a charged battery in the camera. A good day indeed!

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave @ Gardening On A Dime

Hello! This is the first time I've visited your blog and I love it. I'm in middle TN and we've had a lot of rain too. I really like your Daphne Odora and will need to read about it to see if it would grow here. The picture of the cardinal is amazing...how lucky you were! You cat is precious....I love animals and have six dogs. I'd love a cat, but I don't think one would stick around with all those dogs. I will definitely visit again!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

I am so jealous of your cardinal!! None of those in Seattle. Fabulous photographs
I always forget how much further ahead your seasons are. My Daphne are definitely not showing pink buds yet. I think you must skip January completely!
Lovely garden as always

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

Just started reading your blog last week when I found it while doing a Google search for evergreens that will grow in the shade in zone 7B. Reading this blog while drinking my morning coffee and looking out my own window has become a favorite weekend activity. Very nice work!

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlphaJD

I guess you have to go farther north to find the snow. We have had gray, soggy day after gray soggy day---I have forgotten what the sun looks like (except it's out today but I am afraid to notice it). This is unusual for us where we usually have lots of sun in winter. My final daphne succumbed to too much water. I will just have to admire yours. Autumn is looking so cute.

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

I very badly wish that we had Red Cardinals in this country.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercatharine howard

I love your photos. They are great encouragement to get out and walk through the garden even though it is a bit cold. It is always amazing how many plants are blooming in December and January.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Deb, You old camellia is enchanting. You capture colors so well. I love the red bird. Such a majestic bird....

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I loved it all, Autumn steals the show though, the blighter's are so photogenic.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

"I remember seeing the sun." Deb you caught me on that single sentence. Oh how that is true in my gardens... now if I could just remember how it feels. Envious of your good fortune to be camera in hand with the cardinal... but then just to see a cardinal would delight me... sadly, they don't live in my part of the country.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
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