A Wander around our Garden in December

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The last month of 2012 and therefore here is the last post in the “wander around our garden” series. December was a month that started wet and cold and quickly got wetter and colder. We have found ourselves carrying on regardless – we weren’t going to let the weather beat us. So we donned warm waterproofs and busied ourselves clearing soggy perennials and pruning shrubs.

The birds are suffering from lack of natural food in the surrounding countryside so are flocking to our feeders. They add so much colour and song. This year’s flocks of Long Tailed Tits and Goldfinches are much larger than in recent times. Mixed tit flocks have reached over 70 in number at times and finch flocks up to 25. So we are kept busy regularly topping up the seeds, nuts and fatballs. As a result of the poor harvests of berries and fruit in the woods and hedgerows we have had invasions of large flocks of Blackbirds into the garden and already our shrubs are stripped of their produce. The blackbirds are aided in their berry stripping by Thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares. All the red berried shrubs were denuded first, leaving not a single berry on our Cotoneasters, Hollies and Mountain Ashes so they are looking a little less colourful. They have now started on their second choice berries – yellows and whites.

There is still an amazing amount of colour in the garden with some flowers still going strong. This Hebe just ignores whatever the weather throws at it and keeps on flowering. When a frost comes these delicate looking flowers prove they are not delicate at all. They stand to attention even when coated in frost.

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These small Hypericum  shrubs, similar in size to the Hebes, perform on several fronts with flowers still apparent, berries showing several colours on the same plant and leaf colour which gets richer as the weather gets colder.

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Odd flowers of Rudbeckias appear throughout the winter way outside their peak flowering period. They are like little bursts of sunshine.

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Other plants are meant to be winter flowering and we look forward to these each year.  Mahonia japonica exhibits its long thin upright racemes of buttercup yellow flowers with the added luxury of a beautiful warm scent, somewhat reminiscent of pineapples.

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The glossy, dark hand shaped leaves of Fatshedera are a perfect foil for bright summer flowers in our Shed Bed, but it produces its own much more subtle flowers throught the winter. They are the palest of cream with a dull orange centre. They look as if they should emit the mouth-watering aroma of vanilla but that is sadly only in my imagination.

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After a deep frost these flowers loose substance and flop, hanging lifelessly until warmed by the sun.

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The starkness of winter structure exposes simple shapes and patterns working together. This yellowed sword shaped leaf of a Crocosmia cuts dramatically across the curved metal seat back.

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Sculptures take on a new life. Our ironwork ferns rimmed with frost particles curls through the whitened grasses in the Stump Garden.

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Seating areas look less inviting!

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Right down at the bottom of the garden the summerhouse looks sadly at the pool which sits frozen solid at its feet.

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Similarly the water in the birdbaths is often frozen. Each morning as I wander down the garden to feed the chucks I take a detour to add warm water to the birdbaths to melt the ice.

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Frost decorates ornamental features giving them a new winter look.

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Frost highlights the overnight toils of spiders who weave webs around sheds, nest boxes and insect homes.

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There is little to harvest in December but we harvest various prunings. Taller thicker branches will be used as bean poles, smaller branches as pea sticks and to support perennials next year, and these spiral willow stems will be part of some sculpture that I am planning. Bamboo prunings will give us our own bamboo canes. Our first real crop of canes! That should save a few air miles!

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Whatever the winter has in store for us, we are well-prepared. This pile of hardwood logs, oak and birch, will keep us warm and cosy and its scent of woodlands give a good welcome. And outside the chimenia patiently waits with its own fuel supply for us to venture outside to garden and enjoy a coffee break in the winter sun. Alongside the sculptural fire bowl adds further interest.

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And what is happening in our borrowed landscape in December? Sheep seek nourishment in the paddock and provide a little natural fertiliser for the grass, and the wheat fields sadly sits waterlogged, growth at a standstill.

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About greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.
This entry was posted in birds, garden photography, garden wildlife, gardening, grasses, hardy perennials, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, roses, shrubs, trees, winter gardens and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Wander around our Garden in December

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Such a charming world you inhabit.

  2. Scott Weber says:

    Gorgeous frosty photos…the first shot is pure magic…and oh, that view in the last shot!

  3. PJ Girl says:

    Gorgeous Malc! I love Winter and it’s harsh beauty but hate getting up half an early to take fresh water up to the chickens and top up the feeders before work… especially as it’s so dark in the mornings! The days will soon be getting longer again though.

    • I start each day feeding the chucks and giving them fresh unfrozen water too but it does get me out and about when the light is best to take photos. I have the advantage of not having to go to work though!!

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  4. Judy says:

    What a great tour of the garden. I love the spider web, the fire bowl and especially the spiral willow stems. And, of course, the view you have is spectacular. Happy winter.

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