December 2022 – The end of the year

Somehow or other here we are in December again. It has been a roller coaster of a year, incredibly busy and such a satisfying year in terms of making progress in the garden.

One the downside the lack of water through the summer was a strain on the garden. There was a lot of hand watering of vulnerable plants and trees and a worry that the garden would go over early.

Wonderfully, the garden maintained its colour right into November. Visitors to the garden said how beautiful the garden looked, how much colour there was and how much had been done in developing different areas. All of which was music to our ears and a real feather in the collective cap of the volunteers who have worked so hard in sometimes less than ideal weather to bring the garden on in leaps and bounds.

Looking back over the year, we have created a new wildflower area with raised beds, each showcasing a different mix of wildflowers. The planting has been bulked up in the Secret Garden, the Clematis Garden and Alison’s garden. There has been a complete redesign of the Cutting Garden and a new path has gone into the Kitchen Garden.

All the fruit trees have been pruned, the Laburnum Arch has had a thorough overhaul and the White Garden and the Physic Garden are in the process of being renovated.

A lot of work is now going into the Hot Border with lifting and dividing plants and that in turn is helping us to build up a nursery of plants for sale

We want to be selling a lot more of our own plants and Robyn has been working with volunteers seed sowing and dividing up perennials to prepare an initial collection of plants for next year.

On top of all that, all the dahlias have been lifted, washed and put to bed, we have accepted a new collection of pelargoniums for the Orchid House and I’m looking to enlarge our collection of Yorkshire apple varieties.

Everyone has worked tremendously hard and should be giving themselves an enormous pat on the back. Christmas will be a chance to take a step back and reflect on the work done.

I certainly will be taking the opportunity to raise a glass to everyone whilst simultaneously celebrating the winter solstice and the turn of the year. I’ll do this in time-honoured (well my time-honoured) fashion by opening a bottle of something with bubbles in. Those who have been reading this column for a while will know that I struggle a bit as the days get shorter.

I’m a thorough-going northern hemisphere type and I love the rhythms of the year and the revolving of the seasons. But I think that my inner hedgehog really wants to assert herself from about November onwards until ooh, say March.

I can feel a bit down (I don’t think I’m alone in this) so focusing on the turn of the year and knowing that from that moment on (specifically 9.48pm on 21st December according to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich) the days are getting longer, imperceptibly at first but indubitably longer.

I read somewhere that winter isn’t the end of things for the year but rather a crucible where things happen. The leaves fall from the trees but the buds of next year’s growth are already there. The soil looks bare, but some bulbs are already growing, getting ready to poke their noses through the soil.

On that note I will wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and may 2023 be a good year for all of us.

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