It is been damp, overcast and brooding this week in keeping with the increasingly bleak state of our politics. So it is natural that we look for hope wherever we can find it. On a walk this morning I saw a magpie and hastily looked for a second one as if that would break the spell. At times we all need a sign of something auspicious, no matter how small. It is particularly hard at this time of year though and we could all use a bit more daylight in more ways than one…
I will begin and end with the darkness. I have always been a little weary of black coloured plants. There is something eerily gothic about them. I think the trick is to plant them with something brighter for contrast or else they just look like an absence – a little black hole in the garden. My mum left some clumps of this ‘grass’ (which is of course not a grass) in a plastic bag at the front door several weeks ago and it is still growing well in the bag – surely a sign of vigour. I think I will put them in pots and group them next to some evergreens.
2) Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’
A little more cheerful are the first flowers on the winter flowering viburnum bodnantense. There are two in the garden. The second variety (Charles Lamont) is yet to flower. They are rather unremarkable for much of the year but the scent just now is well worth it.
Raspberries are probably my favourite soft fruit and always taste better when homegrown, so it is inexplicable that I haven’t grown any in this garden. There were some here when we moved in that had gone rogue and suckered there way through an overgrown corner and were eventually cleared away. Another winter project for this year will be to make a new bed for these summer and autumn varieties.
I am picking a few seedheads to use as Christmas decorations. One of the simplest are honesty which the children can be spray or dust in glitter. As a child I used to think these were little coins and was disappointed to discover that is not where money comes from…
Another small sign of hope just a week this side of the shortest day. The snowdrops are up to the extent that I can more or less remember where they are and avoid digging them up accidentally. Last year we had our first varieties flowering in the second half of January which is only about four weeks away.
6) The light in the dark
‘The light in the dark’ is the name of a book by Horatio Clare that I have very much enjoyed reading this week. The title and subject matter both seem relevant – not just to the time of year but also to the wider malaise around us just now. It is well worth a read. It is a simple story about finding signs of hope and beauty in the natural world even when we are submerged in darkness.
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