January 2021: In the garden

It’s hard to describe the scale of thrill that a deep covering of snow induces. Even in my forty-sixth year. 

And thrilling on so many levels. 

At first, as those huge, round snowflakes fill the air, gently wafting down, it feels as though you’re looking out on a land of make believe. You wonder – daren’t quite hope – if they will settle. If it’s cold enough, you can watch the grass disappear in front of you, a paler and paler green with each moment of snowfall.

Stepping outside, cosily wrapped up in layers, that first wellied step into soft, fresh snow feels the most decadent of things. 

You don’t want to spoil that perfect, uniform finish; knowing only one person can do this, just the once. And yet you feel compelled to put one foot in front of the other, to test it out; almost disbelieving what is there.

Your foot squeaks as the snow compacts; a sound that brings nostalgic memories of childhood back to the fore. You put another foot forward to see if, again, you’ll hear that glorious snowy squeal.

It’s as if a whole new world has appeared on your doorstep, somewhere you have never been before. You want to explore every corner of it, experiencing it as if for the very first time.

Our treasured four-acre garden contains many beautiful corners, yet many more tatty edges, still to be worked. But a covering of snow hides all ills. 

Weeds are gone, empty beds disappear, patchy grass is erased. All that is left is perfection; a tasteful monochrome of white and brown, just the occasional pop of evergreen poking through in warmer spots.

Not only are all ills whisked away, but wonderful new features are added. Bare trees, grey in silhouette against grey skies, suddenly come to life with a sprinkling of snow; a highlighter sweeping through their branches, bringing out the very best of their curves and contours.

I’m in my very own winter wonderland, so at peace with the world, so content silently exploring whilst the rest of the world is tucked up in bed. Almost as if time stands still.

Only the rest of the world isn’t in bed. I realise one of the brown tree trunks isn’t a tree at all. Darylena is there in the woodland, perfectly camouflaged in this new, two-tone land.

And here comes Daryl, sporting his smart new set of velvet antlers, and the twins, jumping, chasing and headbutting each other as they play.

Could the start to my morning be any more perfect, I wonder? I crouch down, so as not to alarm the deer and spend a good fifteen minutes watching them in the woodland opening. 

They know I am here, but we’re good garden companions now; each respectfully giving the other space, gladly sharing our little patch of good fortune.

Eventually they move on through the woodland and I walk down to the stream. A dynamic cutting through the snow, the movement of water in strong contrast to the stillness and solidity elsewhere.

There’s so much more of the garden to explore, yet I don’t want to leave the woodland. It’s my very, very most special place. 

My place with the deer, my place with my stream, my warm place in winter under the protection of the trees. I always feel a chill as a walk back into the main part of the garden; a shiver as I remember it’s only one or two degrees.

I’ve never once felt the cold in my woodland: my little warm, safe haven never fails me.

But I do tug myself away. 

Walking towards the orchard, I notice that the strangest things look beautiful in this new, snowy landscape. 

Mummified quince? 

Half-eaten rose hip? 

Half-hardy Rudbeckia.

I wonder if this beauty to my eyes is simply down to my enlivened frame of mind. Or perhaps it is the contrast with the simplified backdrop? I’m not sure.

There aren’t many flowers about in January, but the odd early snowdrop pokes its head above the snowline, whilst the Sedum hosts a mountain above each bloom. 

I’m fascinated by how such delicate flowers as honeysuckle manage to survive their petals being frozen to the core, yet each year they prove they are more than resilient enough. 

We’ve not had many sunny days this month, but each one has been savoured from beginning to end. Time moves slowly in lockdown; oh, how wonderfully slowly. Nothing needs to be rushed, nothing is missed, everything can just be deliciously enjoyed.

The aconites are now in their peak, plump beads of yellow splashing across the front lawn with their little frilly ‘choir boy’ collars.

And the ‘Jelena’ witch hazel I planted two years ago is now in full flower; telling me it is happy in its new land.

Spring is not far away now; the first signs are here. They seem to echo the hope for our country and for the world that the vaccines now bring.

Mum and Dad, my dear neighbour and a close friend with health complications were all vaccinated this week: something that makes my eyes all a bit watery to think about. A truly wonderful thing. 

Human beings, from the scientists to the volunteer injectors, are all working miracles delivering something we never dared believe would happen.

There is magic is snow, magic in nature and magic in each and every one of us.

18 thoughts on “January 2021: In the garden

  1. rusty duck says:

    Some wonderful shots! Love the frosty honeysuckle and rudbeckia. The snow missed us this time, just a sprinkling. I was hoping the frosty nights might have helped dry out the soil but no, it’s a quagmire here.

  2. Suzanne says:

    What stunning photos Janna. You really do have the most amazingly beautiful garden and obviously you’re not the only occupant to enjoy the snowy garden. I love seeing your animal residents.
    I felt somewhat envious reading this post with you having such beauty plus a break from the plethora of gardening chores which are a constant of me, but then could I cope with such cold and/or wetness? Hmm, maybe not! However, if we could just work out how to shift the cosmic constellations so as to share the best of both worlds, now that would make me a very happy gardener indeed. It still hot to very hot here..and dry.
    Great news to hear your parents and friends have had the Covid vaccine.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh, Suzanne, are you now in lockdown? Five days in the garden might be quite a treat! As long as you have managed to get some loo roll! Thank you for your very kind comments. No, I don’t think you’d enjoy the cold here, just as I struggle to do anything when it’s over 30 degrees. But it’s funny what you get used to. I still get excited about rain after my Australia stint. The poor farmers got bogged on the field that abuts our garden at the weekend, despite us being on sandy soil. And yet I was still talking cheerily about all this rain – they think I’m bonkers!! No rest for the wicked though. Everyone thinks winter time in British gardens in down time but I had a day off playing in the snow and then donned my wellies and carried on working in the freezer! Always a ridiculously long to do list here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

      • Suzanne says:

        Lol, isn’t the toilet paper issue hilarious? I’m wondering if there is some alternative use that I haven’t heard about. Perhaps an Australian alternative for bunting? When #2 daughter rang to tell me about the lockdown her ration concern was her wine supply!
        Far more concerning are the fires. So many homes lost, so much heartache but the affected are generally so amazingly philosophical and resilient. The wind has dropped out today (but we’re a little west and south of the fire front) and very humid which will, hopefully, help the firefighters.
        I too am a rain worshipper; can’t get enough of the stuff. In my youth we would get about one year in10 years when rainfall was over 1000ml. The last time was back in the early ‘60s…sigh. I should have known that a ‘bit’ of cold/snow/rain wouldn’t stop you. It’s a wonderful addiction we share. X

        • jannaschreier says:

          Gosh, awful about the fires, Suzanne. Over 70 houses? So glad it’s not too close to you. Hope it all settles down now. And yes, it’s a pretty good addiction we share!

  3. Louise says:

    Wow, just so beautiful to see the snow covering the lawn like a light blanket and those plants holding the snow and ice delicately to create a magnificent scene. I really enjoyed drifting through your garden, especially the woodland stream. I think it is my favourite. How lucky are you to witness the “little wildlife family” romping and playing in your place of beauty. Glad you are able to share with us and also take such joy from your place. Good to hear of your family, it must give you some peace of mind. Stay safe and take care while still enjoying all that we can experience when we slow down and take everything in.

    • jannaschreier says:

      I’m so excited someone else likes my little stream. Although it’s the furthest part of the garden from the house I find it very difficult to start work until I have visited it each day. I’m just drawn to it like no other place. Paul doesn’t get it at all! And I was very lucky to catch the deer family playing like that in the woodland. We often see them playing on the lawn by the house but normally they seem more focussed on grazing in the woodland – just luck to catch that snowy scene. Thank you for coming with me through my winter garden!

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