We’re heading fast towards the shortest day of the year. Winter is well and truly here. I woke up this morning to a serious frost – and it was still minus three outside as we were having breakfast. By mid-day, the sun was out, and the countryside looked amazing. It was like driving through a stage set, or a cheesy Christmas card. We’re talking giant oak and willow trees completely covered in twinkling frost. Miles of hedgerows glinting and shimmering. Every twig and leaf made lovely.
Everything at home looked better too. Frost is kind to a wildlife-friendly garden. Rather than cutting everything down to ‘tidy up’ in the Autumn, we try to leave most plants to over-winter, to provide plenty of shelter for insects, birds and other critters. The ragged, spent stems can look a bit brown and dismal on a soggy day, but today even the coarse patches of old asters looked better with a dusting of white, and the grasses and seeds looked wonderful.
The frost should also be good for the garlic, which needs some weeks of hard cold to develop properly. Helped by my overenthusiastic toddler, a few weeks ago I planted out lots of plump cloves (mainly Solent Wight.) Alas, an Unknown Creature has found one lot of cloves and dug up the lot. Whatever It was, It clearly did not like garlic, leaving the cloves gnawed but uneaten on the surface of the soil – which makes the destruction even more annoying. At least the garlic bulbs in pots in the trusty Seed Hut (one of those plastic-covered mini greenhouse jobbies) seem to have survived, for now. You win some, you lose some. Today, everything looked too beautiful to mind.