December: Peace and goodwill

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.

18 thoughts on “December: Peace and goodwill

    • jannaschreier says:

      Such a contrast to where you are. Hope you have a lovely day today; will you be spending it with your lovely granddaughter? Although I accept she is probably a little too young to really understand it all just yet!

      • Adriana says:

        Oh no Janna – our granddaughter is now 2 1/2 and we have no 2 who is 10 months! The older one knows only too well what Christmas is and was our Christmas ‘Elf’ this year. We celebrate Christmas on the Eve. Today we head of to lovely Hepburn Springs and our kids go to their respective in-laws. It has been good here weather-wise (cool until quite recently), except for a couple of hot days in the past week or so, and we haven’t had the awful fires like those north of us. Melbourne has been smoked in but we also missed most of that here in the Dandenong Ranges. Hopefully our luck holds out and the fires up north abate soon.

        • jannaschreier says:

          How does time go so fast? Is she really two and a half?!! Lovely to have a Christmas Elf to help out with the presents! Hope you have a really lovely time in Hepburn Springs and glad to hear you have had some cooler weather. I do hope it settles down across the country soon. We woke up to beautiful blue skies here; not sure I can remember a sunny Christmas Day in the UK before. It’s glorious!

  1. Libby Cameron says:

    Ah, such beauty! Great photos Janna. And here I’m parched Australia, there is little to celebrate as we are coping with quite devastating bushfires and just no rain in sight. It’s a tipsy turvy world!
    Seasons greetings,
    Libby

    • jannaschreier says:

      Really lovely to hear from you, Libby. Hope those beautiful blue Sydney skies that I still dream of return to you soon. I can’t quite imagine what it must be like at the moment. I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a lovely festive day with your family today at least. Have fun!

  2. rusty duck says:

    Happy Christmas Janna and Paul.
    The garden looks beautiful. The passing of the winter solstice is the boost I need to start thinking about Spring and the new gardening year. As ever you have inspired me to get out there and do more next year. I think we owe ourselves a bit of a break from the house renovating, so what better opportunity!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Jessica! I was thinking of you on Christmas Day, really hoping that even in wettest Devon, you were sharing some of the beautiful sunshine that we saw that day. I, like you, felt such a relief to be past 21 December this year. And we’ll both have to plan Australian trips for the end of 2020! Hope you get to enjoy more of your garden and less of tradesmen this year!

  3. germac4 says:

    Belated best wishes for the Christmas Season Janna. A lovely post, and your photos show just how beautiful winter can be….in the garden, and in the country.
    Many parts of Australia look dreadful this summer, and, with all the fierce bushfires crossing the country, smoke is everywhere. Perhaps we could send you some sunshine and warmth, in return for lots of rain!

    Happy gardening in 2020..

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Gerrie. I think Australia must be a bit heart breaking at the moment, not to mention scary. If only we could do a bit of a swap with the weather and just moderate both of our climates. All the best for 2020!

  4. Jan Wilson says:

    Janna
    when are you publishing the book for my winter coffee table. You have virtually written it already and I love your photos
    JanX

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