Garden Watch - December

Susan Catford

The garden may be stripped bare and looking very wintry now but the birds are adding their own splashes of colour. Blue tits, robins, magpies, woodpeckers, pigeons and – just recently- a jay are all taking advantage of the supply of food.

Today the garden is wearing a light coat of snow and frost from the last twenty four hours. The water feature and bird baths are frozen solid so we will need to put out fresh water. The bird feeders need to be replenished daily but it is always lovely to see them busy. A squirrel has taken to visiting the feeders and amuses us with his acrobatic antics, determined to get at the seed. It doesn't seem to bother the birds too much; they just wait until he has gone! The pigeons can't get at the hanging feeders but waddle about underneath catching the spillages. They are very fat so must be doing alright.

The pots have been emptied and replanted with Winter pansies. The geraniums are safe in the greenhouse waiting for next year. The lemon tree has been brought inside to protect it from the cold. There is a beauty in the nakedness of the trees, particularly silhouetted against some amazing morning sunrises. Their skeletons reveal their strength but at the same time there is an intricate delicacy about their finer branches. By contrast the conifers stand tall and substantial against the ever changing skies.

Alas, there will be little sign of new growth for a while now, though the magnolia has buds already even while its last leaves cling on. But the bulbs are in ready for next Spring when the cycle of growth will begin once more. Meanwhile we will have to add our own brand of brightness to the garden with Christmas lights to cheer up the dark days ahead. The old year is ending but the garden will still be there next year to watch and enjoy.