Most people simply can’t abide January. It is too stationary, not enough is happening and everyone is usually broke after Christmas. I, on the other hand, have always rather liked this month of severe frosts, damaging winds, steady freezing rain or even deep snow. Perhaps it’s because it is the formal start of a new year and the potential for new life and the first tentative signs of spring.

As a gardener I am a born optimist and each and every January fully believe that this is the year that my garden will look its undoubted best, the weather will be kind and my vegetable plot will finally feed us for a full twelve months. Stupid I know, but what is man (or woman) without hope? Beside there are many other joys in this month if you only look for them.

The first swinging hazel catkins, tiny bright green leaves on the wild honeysuckle, early snowdrops pushing their way through the cold, semi-frozen soil and a plethora or winter interest plants in the garden. Coloured tree barks, the bright stems of the cornus, hellebores, the imminent buds of camellias and other winter flowering shrubs, winter heather, the brave flowers of iris unguicularis that plop open on a warm winter’s day and the eerie sight of snow lacing the tops of clipped box and yew topiary.
But the garden is not the only place to find joy in January, for this is the month to walk alone in wilder areas, away from the confines of people and buildings. A walk under snow filled skies, beside rushing streams – full of winter menace, or in woods where bare trees bend and swirl in unholy gales can be both humbling and exhilarating at the same time. Damp, cold and dishevelled January is the month for waterproof boots, a dog at our heels and the wind in our faces.