View from the Rear Window - January 2024

 January - named after the Roman god of all beginnings and transitions, Janus; he is depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. Janus translates as doorway or archway and is the origin of the word janitor.

The start of a new year - it promises to be a warm one. The garden needs a little TLC; fortunately, winter is a good time to start pruning. We did enjoy the first flush of flowers on the winter cherry (Photo 1).

Photo 1: January 1st 2024

Just one daily photo this month taken on the first day of the new year (Photo 1). The remaining daily garden photos are collated in the short video below (Video 1).

Video 1: Daily Garden Photos (January 2024)

The Met Office described January 2024 as a month of contrasts. In terms of temperatures, that was certainly the case here in Hereford. The average weather statistics for Hereford in January 2024 are summarised in Table 1 but these do not do justice to the weather variability. 

Table 1: Weather Statistics for January 2024

Weather Parameter



Average Monthly Temperature 

5 oC

Maximum Monthly Temperature

15 oC


Minimum Monthly Temperature

-7 oC


Number of Air Frost Days


Number of Hot Days (> 25 oC)


Monthly Precipitation

47.2 mm

Greatest 24 h Precipitation

20.4 mm (see text)

20th - 21st

Number of Dry Days


Monthly Sunshine Hours (estimated)


Highest Wind Speed

64 km/h


Heating Degree Days


Cooling Degree Days


Temperature-wise, January started and finished warm but we had to endure a cold spell during weeks 2 and 3 (Figure 1). We hunkered down during much of this cold spell apart from a family get-together in Reading just before that mini-freeze.

Figure 1: Max/Min Daily Temperatures - January 2024

There were a lot of dry days with most of the rain falling at the beginning of the month and around the 20th/21st. The large spike on the 21st January is an anomaly due to a blockage in the rain collector; the amount shown for the 21st January also includes the rain that fell on the 20th (which only registered after I unblocked the blockage!).

Figure 2: Daily Rainfall & Sunshine - January 2024

In the following two plots, I compare this January's weather with the previous four Januarys.

While the maximum daily temperatures for the past five Januarys have been consistently warm (14 - 15 ℃), minimum daily temperatures have shown a downward (colder) trend during the 2020 - 2024 period (Figure 3). Overall, this has meant no clear trend in the average daily temperature - however, January 2024 was slightly colder than the mean for the past five years. There is no clear or obvious trend in the number of frosty days - the warmest January (2022) also had the most frost days!

Figure 3: January Temperature Data for the 2020 - 2024 Period

In Figure 4, January rain, sun & wind data are summarised for the past four years (2020 - 2024). The remarkable thing is that sunshine duration has been virtually the same every year despite the large variation in rainfall and the number of dry days. This might be because every day is cloudy so whether it rains or not makes very little difference to the amount of sunlight we receive. That does seem too simplistic because I can definitely remember some bright sunny days in January this year.

Figure 4: Rain/Wind/sun Data in January for the 2020 - 2024 Period 

January is often a stormy month and experiences some high wind speeds and this January was  no exception. There were three names storms (Henk, Isha and Jocelyn) on the 2nd, 21st/22nd and 23rd/24th although Henk passed largely unnoticed in Hereford. Jocelyn was the most severe storm amplified by the fact it followed so closely on the heels of Isha. Figure 5 shows the daily average and highest wind speeds during January 2024; the named storms (Henk, Isha, Jocelyn) are indicated.

Figure 5: Average & Highest Daily Wind Speeds (January 2024)

The Met Office produced a rather nice graphic to summarise the variable weather we experienced in January 2024. 

Figure 6: January 2024 Daily Mean Temperature & Rainfall for the UK

Figure 7 is my attempt to reproduce this for just Hereford! Hopefully you can spot some similarities!

Figure 7: January 2024 Daily Mean Temperature & Rainfall for Hereford

The weather summary maps, produced by the UK Met Office, for January 2024 are shown below (Figures 8, 9 & 10). Herefordshire is indicated by the black circle. In terms of mean temperature, rainfall and sunshine, January 2024 was a fair-to-middling, dime-a-dozen, run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road sort of month in the UK, and especially so for Herefordshire. Some of the UK received better than average sunshine but not Herefordshire (Figure 10)

Figure 8: UK Mean Temperature Anomalies (January 2024)

Figure 9: UK Rainfall (% relative to 1991-2020 mean) - January 2024

Figure 10: UK Sunshine (% relative to 1991-2020 mean) - November 2023

Jobs in the Garden
  • Very quiet and not too much activity in the garden this month
  • Harvested celeriac (about 1.5 kg prepared veg) for soup and roasted vegetables), carrots, parsnip, beetroot and red cabbage
  • Last of the fresh tomatoes eaten
Photo 2: Last of the 2023 Tomatoes (1st January 2024)
  • Still using frozen vegetables (tomatoes, French beans, Jalapenos, sweetcorn) and fruit (apple, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries)
  • Garlic, pickled cucumber & cucumber relish, medlar jelly from the store cupboard
  • Compost-wise, I have been keeping one HotBin going through the winter.
Flora & Fauna (seen in the Garden)
  • 3 x Blackbird (male, female, juvenile)
  • 6 x Blue Tit
  • 1 x Collared Dove
  • 1 x Crow
  • 1 x Dunnock
  • 2 x Great Tit (male & female)
  • 20 x House Sparrows
  • 1 x Magpie
  • 4 x Redwing
  • 1 x Robin
  • 8 x Starling
Photo 3: Incoming Starlings

Video 2: Starlings
  • 5 x Wood Pigeon
January was also the Big Garden Birdwatch (see here and here for previous years). The summary results from this year and the previous two years are collated in Table 1. The usual suspects seen this year were: blackbird (1), blue tit (4), great tit (1), crow (1), house sparrow (11), magpie (1), starling (6) and wood pigeon (5).
Table 1: Number of Birds & Species Seen in the Big Garden Birdwatch


Number of Species

Number of Birds










And, finally, a few photos from the garden ...

Photo 4: Rhubarb sprouting among the Cat Deterrent (22nd January)

Photo 5: First Snowdrop of 2024 (4th January)

Photo 6: Primula (4th January)

Photo 7: Sarcococca with Fallen Cherry Flower (4th January)

Photo 8: Hellebore


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