Arum italicum 'Pictum' leaf, December 2005

Above: Leaf of Arum italicum 'Pictum'.

Garden diary: November

21 December 2003 - approaching the shortest day

At last, I have a digital camera! So today I was able to miss out the usual rather long-winded procedure of taking the film to be processed, picking up the prints and scanning the images onto the computer.

The Mahonia x media 'Charity' has been flowering for weeks, slowly opening its wands of bright yellow flower. The rest of the garden is dull green, brown and grey, and right in the middle there's this shrub that's like the sun itself has landed. In the summer I wondered about giving it away, as I thought it would need more space, as it grows, than my small garden can provide. At present it is just one stem, so I guessed that there would be only the one flowerhead. But what a flower. Its colour is striking, but its shape equally pleasing - so many stems radiating from the centre, like a firework exploding (though, thankfully, without the sound effect).

I've planted tulips, rather late as always, while the earlier planted hyacinths, irises and narcissi are already beginning to show green shoots through the surface of their pots. The garden in general is rather a mess, but I have attempted to sweep the paths and collect up most of the leaves that were on any paved surface and the grass. The other leaves were left on the flowerbeds where they'd blown.

In previous winters I've cut back the brown shrivelled top growth of the golden hop, sometime in the autumn. This year I was too busy and too lazy, and am glad I left it, as it provides good bird cover and also makes the billboards across the street less visible.

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. Such things are important to gardeners, I think, as we're so aware of the change in light through the year, and so conscious of the length of the days - if only because available light affects how much gardening we can do, and when. At this time of the year, when the wind is cold and the days are so short, I find it difficult to think of much to tell you that is of interest, mainly because my brain appears to have slowed down with the winter, like a hibernating hedgehog. So all I can say is that I hope everyone enjoys their festive season, and that you all get a Mahonia "Charity" for Christmas.

Back to December highlights and diaries


Sarcococca berries

Above: Berries of sarcococca, December 2005

Garden diary: January