Six On Saturday 14-12-19 ‘Light in the dark’

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…

1) Ophiopogon

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.

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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.

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3) Raspberries

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.

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4) Honesty

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…

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5) Snowdrops

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.

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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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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Stephens says:

    I have a clump of snowdrops looking very much like yours, which I would celebrate with more enthusiasm if all the rest were showing at all, which they’re not. I only have one sort, where have they gone?

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    1. Keith says:

      I’m sure they will be along soon Jim. I think the ones that come up first for me are simply those that are planted a little closer to the surface than they perhaps ought to be.

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  2. Noelle says:

    Many thanks for the book recommendation, I’ve placed an order with Libraries West. Love your picture of the clouds lit by the moon.

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    1. Keith says:

      Was hoping to catch some of the geminid meteor shower – now that really would have been impressive. As it turned out the bright moonlight actually made it less good for star gazing.

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  3. Heyjude says:

    I wonder if my snowdrops will appear this year. Last year leaves appeared but no flowers. But given how wet it has been for what seems like months I will be surprised if anything ever grows here again…

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    1. Keith says:

      That’s odd isn’t it? I have seen of other bulbs (esp daffodils and tulips) going ‘blind’ because something has gone wrong the year before (eg planted too deep, dried out in the summer or leaves removed before bulb had stored enough energy) but can’t say I have heard of that in snowdrops. Maybe worth dividing and replanting them if it happens again?

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      1. Heyjude says:

        I only planted these in March 2018 in the green so I’m not sure if they were planted deeply enough or whether they need a year or so to establish themselves. We’ll soon see I guess!

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  4. Your photo of the garden in the half dark is very atmospheric – helps us to appreciate that winter can be beautiful too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith says:

      I should really use a tripod the next time I am taking photos in the dark, a lot of things in the garden look really beguiling lit by the moon.

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  5. Lora Hughes says:

    I love ophiopogon w/its cheery pink flowers, so hopefully you will too someday in the future. It looks wonderful w/light coloured pebbles underneath it. Your honesty seedheads are looking really good – shall we see a photo later of them as decorations? Your night skies are gorgeous. Soon, soon, the light will come.

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    1. Keith says:

      That’s a good suggestion thanks Lora, I will give that a go. I had forgotten about the pink flowers too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cavershamjj says:

    I am falling out with raspberries. I dont seem to be able to grow them. I think I will buy some actual plants this year rather than break canes, perhaps they will get going better.

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