Margaret's Garden Journal for December 2010

It seems that our recent regime of short, mild winters is over. I thought last winter harsh but this one has started earlier with temperatures dropping even more dramatically. A milder day melted the snow that fell at the end of November but the roads froze again that night, leaving dangerously icy surfaces. Fog followed. When a chilly sun broke through it shone on a fairyland of glittering trees and spider webs but temperatures continued to plummet even further than last year. There's a thaw predicted for a couple of days before mid-month but the following week's forecast is dire.

The thaw came and we were without snow for almost a week although the temperature was below freezing most of the night.

Not many birds seem to be using the bird feeders. I don't think they like the new mix I bought from Wilkinsons. Small flocks of birds , however have visited the sed heads in the garden. Long tailed tits love the ceonothus by the porch. The ceonothus has not been so vibrant over the past two years and has a 9inch in diameter, seven foot high bare trunk before the canopy begins. I am thinking of cutting it down to three foot but am hesitant. Even if the ceonothus were to sprout fresh shoots I would have no flowers or seeds in 2011. AI saw a flock of small golden birds (gold finches visiting the seed heads of lemon balm and evening primrose, but they were very shy. When I moved close to the window, they took fright and flew off.

At the beginning of the month I discovered I had left my wellies out and they were full of ice. It has taken all month to dry them out. Then the week before Christmas we had another dump of snow. Today, (23rd), wearing wellies that I discovered in the garden full of snow I have been clearing my driveway and car as I need the car tomorrow to deliver presents.

Christmas Preparations

I intended to buy a Christmas tree this year but the only day my grand daughters and great grand daughters had free to decorate it was the 5th. The snow the week before was too deep for me to collect a tree from the Nursery at Enderby so once again I used prunings from my Beauty Pine. This year the branches had long tapering cones in a delicate shade of beige. I suspect that by cutting the tree back hard from the lawn, I have removed next year's cones but I can't give up too much of the garden to just one tree.
As is now traditional, most of my decorations consist of prunings from my conifers, ivy and holly all lit up by fairy lights. The birds left more holly berries in the back garden than they did last year. Chris was still able to cover the neatly conical juniper with light nets but at the rate it is growing, he won't be able to fling the nets over next year even with the aid of my tallest ladders.