Notes from the Winter Garden December 13, 2017 16:55
For me, the garden in winter time is a spirited, wild affair. Yes, it is muddy. Yes, it is all a bit dishevelled. But I love its bare, pared down beauty. At this time of year, my garden is just like my feisty, wizened old aunt; slightly dazed and confused, wandering the about in just her socks but with a keen look in her eye. Ever elegant, immune to the panic, chaos and turmoil around her, she cocks her head in a jaunty, disdained fashion and saunters on.
In this instance, the turmoil is the weather. And my overly anxious hand wringing brought about by the hard frosts, smatterings of snow and, worse still, the gusts and gales that whip around our garden, snapping branches and taunting our old roof tiles.
And yet, just when you feel like rolling over and staying in bed, there are moments of sunshine - bright blue skies that lift the spirits and provide a good, well needed dose of vitamin D. Or is it C? Either way, at these moments, I disappear outside as quickly as possible, to soak it all up. Find a sheltered, south facing spot and you can still enjoy a little warm sunshine on your chops. Lovely stuff.
Now is a great time to enjoy and assess the structural elements of the garden. It is the easiest time of year to literally see the wood instead of just the trees and plan any adjustments you need to make to move your garden forward. I tend to look across the garden - at the heights and how my eye is drawn from one point to another, as well as from the top down - how does it all connect? I do this from my favourite places to sit in the garden. After all, there is no point creating a beautiful little view or a nice little detail if you can't enjoy them. I also try and do this from a wildlife point of view - e.g. is my garden making it easier or harder for bees to pollinate the dwarf fruit trees and cordons? What is thriving under the shade of the tree? What could do with moving?
As plants, shrubs and trees move into their dormant, hibernating phase, it is possible to start moving some of these about. A prune here, a snip back there. I'm planning on moving a couple of cordon apple trees - I didn't space them out very well last year and every since it has been like having a wonky picture on the wall - it's got me seriously twitchy! For other plants, I've got to wait until spring before I mess about. They won't thank me for fiddling around while they doze. I don't blame them.
To prevent damage, I've been tying branches in and securing things down. For some time now, my tender plants are either inside the house (I continue to be extremely unpopular for this move "There are more plants than people in this house!" Apparently this is a bad thing...). And I am (well, my Dad is) in the midst of creating my very own mini glass house from the remnants of the old school loo. It's a long story. A blog for another time.
But for now, in amongst the craziness that is build up to Christmas, I'm just trying to appreciate the beauty amid the bleak - the bare trees and branches; the lush green of evergreens and the pops of bright colour from berries and hips.