More To See On A Winter’s Walk Through A Southern Garden

Enemion biturnatum - False Rue Anemone - January

false rue anemone…

Cyclamen hederifolium - January

cyclamen hederifolium…

January is frigid in many parts of the country and can be a bleak month at best. But it’s also a good time to take a walk through your landscape, observing and planning.  Here are some things I spotted on a short walk recently.


Geranium 'Biokovo' - January

geranium ‘Biokovo’…

Native plants like false rue anemone, Enemion biturnatum, are beginning to show through the fallen leaves and promise  pure white blooms this spring. Only the bloodroot is a purer white.   The cyclamen hederifolium blooms are past,  but the pretty mottled foliage is spreading. Here’s some under a native azalea. There are also crocus bulbs interplanted with these cyclamen that will be coming through the leaf litter soon.


Selaginella uncinata - Peacock Spikemoss


Perennial geraniums are good, tough plants too. Here the foliage of Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a cranesbill geranium,  is looking quite happy along a rocky slope. It’s a pretty groundcover here and gets enough sun in this spot  to bloom in the late spring. After the white flowers tinged with pink fade, I’ll clip it back to keep it tidy.


Acorus variegata - Dry Riverbed - January

acorus variegata…



A little farther down the slope, and in more shade, is some selaginella uncinata, or peacock spikemoss. This groundcover is closely related to ferns and likes this shaded, moist spot. By midsummer, with enough moisture, it will be a lush, blue/green carpet underneath the trees and sheltered by the rock outcrop.




Below the rock outcrop, and along a dry riverbed, a spring provides water for evergreen acorus. In addition to Acorus ‘Ogon’, a yellow variegated form, here is the Acorus variegata, with a white variegation. Both of these love moisture, and  they spread freely. In February these will get cut back at the same time the dwarf mondo is cut, making  way for new, fresh growth.

Cyrtomium falcatum - Holly Fern - January

holly ferns…


Other plants that will need old, tattered, winter damaged fronds cut off next month are the perennial ferns, including  tassel (polystichum polyblepharum),  autumn (Drypteris erythrosora),  and, shown here, holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum). Sure, they’re evergreen, but, by winter’s end, they definitely need  cleaning up.  Wait until at least the end of February to do any drastic cutting back, though,  as the old foliage also helps protect the crown of the plants from cold temperatures.




Itea virginica & Hellebores - JanuaryAbove the water but spreading down the slope toward it, is a planting of Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet’ , still holding the garnet colored fall foliage of its name. Underneath this spreading, suckering, shrub is another common evergreen perennial groundcover, the reliable Lenten roses, helleborus orientalis.

These two have gradually spread over the years, and the itea will also show off it’s dainty fragrant white blooms along arching stems this spring. It is truly an all season shrub, and the long lasting lenten roses blooming under them are good companions. Soon enough  it  will be  time to clip off old, winter damaged leaves of the lenten roses, but not yet.  January is the month to simply observe, taking time to enjoy a quiet walk through the garden on a sunny, chilly day.