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Always the last one to the party, that’s me. But I didn’t want to wave January goodbye without documenting what has been an extraordinary month – even for this most extreme time of year.

Of course we spent most of the month under deep snow, so for the first couple of weeks there wasn’t much gardening going on. I had a close encounter with a proper bona fide blizzard, in which I discovered that our Toyota Rav 4, previously considered embarrassingly poncy, outperforms a Landrover in a snowdrift, and I lost my precious loquat tree to a heavy snowfall of 8″ in a single night. Note to self: loquat trees have brittle branches and need tying up in snowy weather.

There's a viburnum in full flower under here somewhere

There’s a viburnum in full flower under here somewhere

Once the snow had melted, it was time to assess the damage. The most serious was caused not so much by the snow but by months of wet weather followed by howling gales during that blizzard I was talking about.

An ex-tree, and possibly an ex-ladder too

An ex-tree, and possibly an ex-ladder too

This was previously an unassuming ash tree, some 40ft tall and minding its own business in a corner of our garden. It went largely unnoticed until it crashed down our back slope, its roots terminally loosened in the muddy soil. Thankfully there was nobody around at the time: our ladder copped it though.

Otherwise things have been mostly soldiering on through. I am eternally thankful I managed to remember to cover at least one of my ginger lilies (Hedychium gardnerianum) with a Heath Robinson affair involving cardboard, lots of fleece and some bricks: the other one I didn’t get around to so this is going to turn into an Interesting Experiment. We haven’t had it very cold here, minus 4-5°C at most, but it has been very wet, so if the one survives and the other doesn’t we’ll know what’s to blame.

My little ginger all snug in its fleece jacket

My little ginger all snug in its fleece jacket

And as the snow melted, it revealed all those lovely heart-lifting little jewels from their hiding places under the blanket of white, lifting the cloud just long enough to remind me that spring will arrive again, one day, as inevitable as the turning of the world.

Battered but not beaten: the first daffodils appeared on the slope this month

Battered but not beaten: the first daffodils appeared on the slope this month

It's been a wonderful year for snowdrops: perhaps it's just me but they seem bigger and fatter somehow

It’s been a wonderful year for snowdrops: perhaps it’s just me but they seem bigger and fatter somehow

..and the bulbs are poking through the ground everywhere: a new one appears every day. These are the early tulips, only a couple of months away now.

..and the bulbs are poking through the ground everywhere: a new one appears every day. These are the early tulips, only a couple of months away now.

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