December 11, 2018

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 15.12.13: The Dead of Winter

Have always loved the phrase “the very dead of winter”, I think my mum used it, she was always quoting poems; it is from T. S. Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi, a favourite of ours. To me, it doesn’t feel like “the worst time of the year” as in the poem – perhaps because I’m not a King on a refractory sore-footed camel – but rather gives me a feeling of everything stilled, asleep, waiting; it’s cold, yes, but there’s warmth in the peace.

And actually in the garden, although we’re nearly at the solstice, the very dead of day, there’s still a lot of life; still nerines in flower, if fading fast; still apples everywhere; still odd flowers showing unexpected flickers of colour. Even better than life hanging on, there’s also new life out there. This week, scraping leaves off the lawn where the first snowdrops always come up, can’t believe it, the first grey points are appearing!
And then I noticed a flower on the winter iris, I. unguicularis. Not only one but at least another eight nearly out! Eliot’s poem again, a Birth in the very dead of winter.


One of the Chinese witch hazels is also covered in buds though they won’t open yet, Hamamelis being one of those plants that give you a lot of warning about what you’re going to get when their time comes. Magnolias the best example; even now, months before they flower, they have thrillingly fat buds. Look forward to seeing them, and some beautiful scented flowers on the witch hazel, but other side of the coin, I know that the other witch hazel is going to disappoint – no buds so no flowers. At least there’s lots of little fat pink catkins on new purple hazel.

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