02 November 2012


This is the 52nd post of this blog -- a year's musings and mutterings. Always, I hope, with an eye on quotidian beauty - something that's there for each of us no matter where we are. Yes there have been forays abroad, marvelling at the wide open landscapes of the Netherlands, at mosaics of amber, tangerine and garnet in the Laurentians, at palms and backyard citrus trees in Portugal... And they have been wonderful. But this week it has been good to return to the day-to-day: what's happening in the greenhouse, in the garden, what needs doing, what has changed in the nearby parks and woods as winter approaches. While we've had nothing like the weather that swept up through the Caribbean and eastern US this last week, the November skies have leadenly reminded me that while I've been gallivanting abroad, the darkness of winter has arrived.

Still though, winter skies mean the just-off-full waning moon is still visible at 9:30 in the morning. With the colours fading--only the odd cyclamen in the park or some shining fungi in the woods--textures start to come into their own: spore-laden Hart's Tongue with a tangle of Dryopteris behind.

Cyclamen in the park

Fungi and mosses in the woods

Phyllitis (Hart's Tongue) and Dryopteris in the woods
And the low light of winter etches the bark of the oak, willow and pine into mesas and valleys of light and dark.



 and a Wellingtonia (just so I could squeeze in the schnauzer; it had been a while)
Cool temperatures mean that pottering in the greenhouse with the radio on is not only permitted, it's almost de rigeur: what else is a gardener to do? Well, she can tidy up, for one thing - and so I've swept up and stored the leaves of the maples to turn into lovely leaf mould to use next year or the year after; I've dug out some of the turtleheads that were doing too well and competing too hard with the Enkianthus and Witch Hazel; I've finally planted out a hellebore that I bought early in the summer; I've planted up some cyclamen for my father's grave and kept some to brighten a pot at the front of the house and to complement the chalk cobbles at the edge of the pool at the back.  I've cut off the too tatty dried-up leaves of the Rodgersia and the equally bedraggled and also slimy leaves of the Smilicina.

Greenhouse delights

Cyclamen bring some colour to the front of the house...

... and to the back
I start to suffer from a slight failure of imagination at this time of the year and cannot believe that the bare earth and brown and russet remains of the perennials will somehow transform next April and May to summer delight and leafiness. But they will. One thing I've enjoyed about this blog is that I can go back to look at what was going on in May, June etc. and remind myself that the seasons pass and at this latitude a time of restoration and quietness in the garden and elsewhere allows the coronets of spring and the trumpets of summer to sound ever better when their time comes.

But summer was by no means all sunshine and delight - it was a tough season for all growing things, which has meant not just a hard time for gardeners, but for those with whom we share our gardens. The poor season  this year will mean a tough winter ahead for the birds and other beasties that share our space. We'll be making sure to keep the bird feeder topped up as the berry and other harvests this year have been so very poor. Any spare apples that have gone over the top for humans we will cut up and spread out on the ground for the blackbirds and thrushes. The seeds that drop to the ground under the bird table will no doubt feed some mice; the odd rotting log and the compost heap will provide shelter for all sorts, yes including next year's slugs and snails, alas, but beetles and frogs too.

I'll finish the year by saying thanks to my patient readers.
Have a good week (and year) all.


  1. Congratulations on a year full of reminding us that nature and life IS beuatiful! Graineweile

  2. Wow that is amazing that the blog year has gone by. Thank you for all the joy, interest & beauty of and in nature you have highlighted throughout the year. I love the connection to nature and to you too as I spent the day in the garden tidying cutting back & readying for winter. As I went about my work you're always in my thoughts & in my heart with all your touches throughout our garden! Thank you

  3. GrĂ¡ and Judi, thank you for the kind words.