31 January 2016


Poor January. Up at these latitudes (and points north), January gets such a bad rap. Post-festivities, post-indulgence January. On-the-dry January. Will-winter-ever-end, will-we-ever-get-paid January.

"January, sick and tired you've been hanging on me..." (who here remembers that song from the 70s!?)
January this year had one huge advantage though -- it wasn't dreary December, the wettest since records began. Storm after storm queueing up in the Atlantic to come blowing in with
 So. Much. Rain. 

Hart's Tongue by the swollen Glencullen River

Winter ferns in Knocksink woods

The Glencullen has risen above its banks a few times already this winter: submerging ferns and ivies here
A letter writer to an English newspaper suggested that our Met Services stop naming all the storms (Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude...) as "it's only encouraging them". Still, out and about with a lovely Canadian visitor we caught a little of the winter light filtering through a ruined ancient church window or illuminating an island's Martello tower.

Glendalough ruin in the fading light

Dalkey Island in the low winter light
The first of January saw us revving up the 'van for its first trip of the new year and a week later we were off again, this time to Laois, where the view from the 'van in the morning was captured in a really quick and dirty sketch.

View from the van, January: silver birch near the Slieve Bloom mountains

I'm not a great one for new years resolutions, but times of change always prompt a bit of thought and a bit of planning. Receiving a gift of a beautiful notebook (thanks lb!) helped me decide that this year it would be lovely to keep track of the year, not just in the garden (it says 'Garden Notes' on the outside so of course there'll have to be garden stuff in there), but also just to record, in words and sketches, what other things are going on: how frequently Izzy and I see foxes on the morning walks, which birds are coming into the garden, and, in what I hope will be a monthly feature, the 'view from the van'. This month's was a silver birch in K's garden, we'll see what next month's will be.

A happy schnauzer on a chilly morning near the Whitehorse river in Co Laois
Another gift was a 'Colour Dictionary' (Irojiten) from Japan. New pencils to play with!

Some of the playing has serious intent - getting those buttery yellows and ochres just right for the 'White Light' leaves for the PlandaĆ­ Oidhreachta project.

Colourin' (and some 'White Light' leaves)
Mount Venus Nursery opened their gate again this weekend for a Hamamelis Days weekend. Well of course I *had* to go up to have a look. I didn't buy another witch hazel, but instead came home with a beautiful Viburnum farreri. It's now in a large pot outside the kitchen window, underplanted with some cheap and cheerful small narcissi. It will give me a beautiful scent when I come home from the morning walk, and a lovely view out the kitchen window even on dark winter days. What's not to love about that? I had a brief chat with Oliver while up in the nursery, and both of us agreed that the standard advice to make sure you've evergreens for your winter garden just doesn't tell the whole story. Winter blossom and winter scent are what make the difference. Witch hazels, V. farreri, Daphne 'Jacqueline Postil' and a small but powerful Sarcococca humilis are doing the trick on my small patch.

View from the kitchen window: Viburnum farreri distracts from a bare winter garden.
Near the fence, Hamamelis mollis 'Pallida' lightens the winter blues.
And so to finish, a song. No particular tie-in with this one, it just came into my head recently. I could have given you a link to the original track, but you'll find it easily enough yourselves if you wish to. Here's Bruce Cockburn in more recent times, still singing his song well:

Go well all.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and lovely photos! I'm loving the Irotijen pencils too! Aren't we lucky?