Winter loveliness and signs of Spring…

After a few days of the kind of weather that, if it persists, makes winter here dreary. A few images taken during the dreariness that show the beauty that is still there if I open my eyes to it!

Huelgoat forest. The Mare aux Sangliers after the rain… Late December.Lichens from a fallen branch of oak after the wind… One day I’ll get to grips with their identification.

A Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) flower in the garden. Freshly opened and almost pristine, after the rain which had spoiled the others.

Chinese Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis, ‘Pallida’) flowering now. Little slivers of yellow, crinkly crepe paper petals with a delicious, if sometimes elusive perfume.

An an unexpected, very early surprise… Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’. Why this one flower now when all the others are only just showing above ground? I have no idea. But how beautiful and how welcome!

All of these, plus the emerging Crocus, Narcissus and,   – I kid you not – Tulips(!) and more daylight. I know there’ll be bleak days ahead, but Spring is just around the corner. Time to start looking at the seed catalogues.

Bloody rain…but at least it isn’t snow!

The rain just doesn’t seem to have stopped. I’m sure it must have at some point these last days, but I was either asleep or I somehow didn’t notice. Actually, it did for about 30 minutes this morning – and probably did for some of yesterday, so I’m being overly dramatic.

I’m listening to it now falling on the window panes – which is better than Monday night when it woke me up dripping on the floor near my head! (There’s a waiting bucket now. It only happens with a combination of very heavy rain and strong wind from a particular direction…)

This of course means that I’ve got almost nothing done. In that little thirty minute window I did finally plant several pots of tulips that have been waiting to go in for ages. I don’t feel too bad about making them wait as, apparently, they do better planted once the cold weather hits and are less susceptible to diseases. Which is a comforting excuse for laziness on my part.

But here’s the garden from my window last week before the rain set in:

And the Miscanthus lit by… a little bit of sun!

As winter draws in…

I have to scrabble around and grab hold of the good at this time of year. Outwardly everything is rotting, withdrawing, collapsing and dying around me.

It’s  cold. It’s damp. I can’t walk on the grass without turning it into a slippery mud trail – but I have to walk on the grass and wheel my barrows full of manure over it, so it looks dreadful.

So… I have started raking and collecting the fallen leaves to use as mulch.  I have pruned my black currants and other soft fruit. I have started the long process of renovating and weeding the flower borders. I’m wandering around with secateurs in my pocket snipping when I see the need. I have smothered the Asparagus bed in manure and am gradually doing the same elsewhere.

There are Blewitts now. The last mushrooms to fruit. Even after the frosts. I’m still collecting Chanterelles (Cantherellus tubaeformis) and the day before yesterday got some Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus) as an unexpected surprise.

Scratching the ground I’ve seen the blunt snouts of daffodils already waiting to emerge. So, although it seems on the surface that it’s all decaying, there’s a whole world down below slowly preparing for the Spring. I love that.