Arum italicum 'Pictum' leaf, December 2005

Above: Leaf of Arum italicum 'Pictum'.

Garden diary: November

19 December 2005

After a very mild autumn, and unseasonably warm weather, the cold has arrived. Despite the inevitable lack of gardening action, I've managed to do the necessary things, like feed the birds, defrost the bird bath, and chuck an old sheet over some rather tender plants in the corner near the house (must remember to buy some new horticultural fleece).

I wonder if it's just me, or if there are there other people all over the place looking out of windows at their gardens, feeling a bit grumpy and sighing a lot. The short daylight hours mean nothing much can be done outside. Occasionally there's that desperate urge, on a slightly milder day, to get out in the garden and do something.

But it's that time of year when there are so many other things interfering with gardening time. Even if it's a non-working day, there's things like wrapping presents, or decorating the tree, or trying to buy online at Amazon and spending about three hours getting distracted by those 'customers who bought the items in your basket also bought' suggestions.

If you do get out in the garden there's maybe not much that needs doing, so you end up picking up fallen leaves that could easily be left where they are as they're causing no problems, but you feel like you need to just do something. It's good, I notice, how after being out in the garden a while moving about, you get much warmer and cheerier than you do from standing around moping and wondering if you can be bothered to start, like I do so often at this time of year.

There are still beautiful things out there, even though the frost has blackened the dahlias and all the deciduous shrubs and climbers have lost their leaves. In the centre of the garden there's a rather handsome combination of a bronze-leaved phormium and the golden-brown leaves of the Crocosmia 'Lucifer', and between them the still statuesque seedheads of the crocosmia, held aloft on brittle brown stems, with the seedpods split open but still holding their rusty-brown seeds.

The leaves of the phormium and crocosmia are a similar sword-like shape, and the shades of brown complement each other perfectly. The phormium was only moved to this location this summer, and I think it was a good move, though this winter effect was accidental, rather than planned, I must admit.

There are no red and orange berries left on the trees or the pyracantha shrubs, as the birds have eaten them all. But in Woodland Corner there are bright orange berries at ground level, on the Iris foetidissima. Against the sunny wall on the other side of the garden, the beautiful blue of the berries of Viburnum tinus 'Gwenliann'.

Viburnum berries, December 2005

Back to December highlights and diaries


Sarcococca berries

Above: Berries of sarcococca, December 2005

Garden diary: January