It’s been a quiet month in the garden.
The trees are bare, the final leaves having been swept away last month. Plants and weeds alike have ceased their growth and bedded down to rest.
In a marked contrast to the bustling streets in London, full of busy and increasingly impatient shoppers, I return home to calm. The garden and the gardener breathing a sigh of relief at the end of their mutually busy year of creation.
Yet in this time of quiet reflection – the calm after the storm – the garden still has so much to give.
Capturing the full extent of the sun rising and setting is easy at such sociable hours.
And as I continue to look up, I notice the true beauty in the tracery of statuesque trees this year.
Despite the garden being so pared back – many specimens having retreated entirely below ground – on a clear frosty morning, it’s hard to imagine anything more beautiful.
The world becomes a vision in sepia; at first no colour at all, but slowly, slowly one’s eyes adjust to see beyond the shapes and the patterns to colours of a different, subtle kind.
It is a world of the softest pastels, nature putting on the best of its winter show.
The light bouncing from selected foliage it chooses to highlight; a long spot-lit ray, spreading across the ground to accentuate its focus.
The odd crystal-covered flower defying the cold with determined resilience.
The animals continue to go about their business, Daryl the deer looking distinctly more like Rudolph the reindeer as the month progresses.
The pheasants have been particularly active this month, performing their funny fast walks in single sex flocks of up to six or seven. I’m not sure if she or I were most surprised to see each other as one pecked around under the kitchen window early one morning.
There’s nothing quite like a walk around the garden to reinvigorate yourself after a day of indoor activities.
In this period of quiet, the small details are so much more apparent. The steam rising from the compost, shows that all is not sleeping beneath its still cover. Each part of the system of nature knowing and continuing to play its role each and every day of the year.
There is excitement, knowing that whilst on the surface things may be quiet, underground, bulbs are sending roots down and shoots up, ready to burst forward as soon as the new year dawns.
We’ll be awash with the gems of yellow aconites spread across the lawns in just a week or two. They seem to lead the way, prompting the subsequent waves of bulbs to catch up and spring to life, one after another; nudging their neighbours, encouraging the next along, between them offering up a domino effect of colour spanning six months or more.
Yet now, the garden brings comfort in its stillness, just when peace is yearned for. It provides the counterbalance and the contrast that is sought, just as we are at our busiest with friends and family and preparations of all kinds.
As I wander back towards the house, the full moon lighting up the sky, reflecting vivid blues, there’s nothing quite like looking in to a cosy, warm home, the Christmas tree laden, its soft lights dancing.
Inside and out, it seems that peace and goodwill are omnipresent.
I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas, from the warmth of the fire here, and hope you’ll join me again to celebrate the joys of nature as we observe the wonders that 2020 brings.