Gardens Illustrated recently published a post on Facebook detailing things to do in the garden in December, with the headline that December is ‘a busy, optimistic month’ for the gardener. The author of the article, Rosie Fyles, is the head gardener at Ham House, England, where things may indeed be busy and optimistic. I have to say, in all honesty, it’s very cold, wet and windy, the garden is drab and am not convinced that we should try to convince ourselves to be busy and/or optimistic! On top of which, the Omicron variant of Covid is dampening the spirits of everyone apart from those who live in constant denial (you know who I mean), and here in Belgium we’re under new, tighter restrictions: no Christmas parties, mask-wearing for six-year-olds up, schools breaking up early or returning to hybrid learning with virtual classes, generally keeping things low-key. So, better to accept that winter is here, hunker on down and cook lots of comfort food – I’ve just come from baking an apple and blackberry pie, which I intend to eat with lashings of cream. A brief foray into the garden to check on the chickens meant that I did stop to pick some leaves off the pond, but then my hands got very, very cold. I scurried back indoors like a rodent to its den.
So there are no rich pickings for Six on Saturday, and I may take a break from it, but not quite yet, mainly because I feel like writing about the garden even if I don’t want to spend much time in it right now! Here are a few hastily snapped wintry vignettes:
1 Snow. It only lasted about three hours. A bit disappointing, as there wasn’t even time to throw a snowball, but maybe this is just the beginning. If anyone remembers my neighbour’s massive purple beech from three weeks ago, now that those lovely leaves have gone, you can see it’s a group of four trees (to the left of the photo).
2. Rose hips. The nameless yellow climbing rose that hugs a corner of the house produces these rotund orange hips. This poses a dilemma, as you’re supposed to prune climbing roses so the roots don’t get rocked about too much by the winter winds, but then you’d lose the hips. Perhaps I should use them on my Christmas wreath.
3 Lunaria annua seed casings. Honesty is a lovely plant, both in flower and in seed, and I’m so glad I planted a few along the front path. It would be nice if they self-seeded but am not sure they will, my self-seeding rates on the clay here are pretty poor.
4 Hypericum kalmianum ‘Gemo’. Another plant that’s pretty in two seasons, it keeps this neat twiggy structure all winter. There’s a pleasing contrast between the golden sepals and the brown seed heads that point eagerly upwards.
5 Geranium Rozanne. This one is both busy and optimistic, just like the Ham House gardener. Nobody told her it’s winter. The photo was taken pre-snow, so she might have taken note by now.
6 Veg bed. Last Sunday, when the weather was less severe, I got out and deposited a load of garden compost on this section of the veg bed. Then I let the chickens out for a wander in the garden and they had some fun hunting for worms, digging the compost in for me, but possibly also digging up a few garlic cloves I had planted here.
So there we have it. The Propagator as ever hosts some great Six on Saturday posts from far and wide that are bound to cheer us up. It’s looking a bit milder today, so I might try to be ‘busy’ and rake up leaves, pack away dahlia tubers that have been drying out in the shed or go and buy a few pavers to place en route to the chicken run, which is getting muddy. Perhaps December can be busy after all.