Waking to the dark night sky reminds me that we are now very close to the shortest day. Rather than curse the dark though, I am embracing the winter season and doing that very pagan thing of bringing the outside in. Berried ivy and holly are traditional favourites that I will be foraging for along the almost reopened canal.
Everyone has their own traditions at Christmas and New Year. It is a time for reflection and planning and sitting by warm fires surrounded by candlelight. I use it as a time to look through tempting seed catalogues and dream about what I want to grow next year. To pour over gardening books when there is really no chance of being out in the garden and actually doing something feels like a such an indulgent treat. Beth Chatto's shade garden book was one of my Christmas presents this year (we've already had our early Christmas!). Fruit trees were another lovely early Christmas gift that will need planting when the time is right. There is that lovely saying that the right time to plant a tree is now or 20 years ago. How true that is.
It is also the very best time to see the "bones" of your garden. Stripped bare of its usual leaves and flowers, I am looking out of our windows right now to assess the best place to have a few more beds. I've collected enough cardboard so I can use the "no dig" method again. It is an excellent way to let your soil do some of the work for you but make no mistake, no dig does not mean no work. A thick layer of compost needs to be barrowed onto the bed of cardboard for the soil organisms to start their work. In the spring, your reward is amazing friable healthy soil.
If there is anything that I have learnt from the garden this year it is this – patience. It takes time to formulate plans and decide on what to grow, even to source your materials (I am looking to purchase both British and as local as possible). British flowers are not called slow flowers for nothing but when they get going, suddenly you are inundated. I love that old but true saying that the generous gardener has the most flowers, as by cutting, the right plant will just keep on producing even more.
Even now, the first snow white hellebores are showing their beautiful face in my borders. The season and the winter march on.
May I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years, and after all the food and festivity, we'll be more than ready to don our gardening gloves again for 2019.
Learn more about Kathryn's wild garden style floristry at fierceblooms.com