The Christmas Lull

Yesterday I went out in the garden for the first time since late December. I have been looking out at it through the rain, frost, wind and snow of the last few weeks but have not felt the inclination to go out other than to get the Christmas Tree into its clever pot on the 23rd December after we got back from the Isle of Wight .

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Cold garden

We tend to leave putting the tree up late in this household. It is a throw back to my childhood. My birthday comes just before Christmas and my mum and dad always waited until after my birthday before allowing the Christmas festivities to begin. My brothers and sisters must have hated the unwritten rule as friends, no doubt, decorated their houses and trees from the beginning of December.  I love the festive season but I want it to be a ‘season’ not a quarter of the year. My mum and dad’s rule allowed Christmas to be that. Collecting the tree on the 23rd of December and taking everything down on Twelfth Night gave Christmas and New Year neat parameters.

During Christmas somehow time stops. Although there are people to see and places to go and it is a busy time, in my head there is a lull. I think this is because there isn’t much to do in the garden. Or nothing I want to do in these few weeks. Until Twelfth Night I go into a mini hibernation.

I know that it is better to leave pruning the vine and wisteria until January when ‘officially’ it is the coldest time of year and the cuts will heal quickest before the sap starts to rise. I have learnt to leave seed heads for the birds. Other garden detritus gives succour to insects and small mammals and I clear those in February as the new growth starts to show. The grass can’t be cut – it is too wet and cold. I do have some plants that can be put in the ground but, again, the soil is so soggy it would be better to wait for a few cold and dry days for it to hopefully drain.

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Discarded Christmas Tree

But yesterday as the decorations came down and the tree was relegated outside again to await recycling I looked with clear eyes around the garden. And what a lot there was to see. Bulbs are poking their heads above the soil in both pots and flower beds. The Hellebore flowers are inching out of the soil. Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ has new spikes of leaf growth protected by the shed in its own microclimate. Cyclamen coum, its delicate little flower heads holding themselves up against the inclement weather, starting to spread under the Hazel which in turn is covered in catkins waiting for the warmer weather to spread their magic dust to the female flowers. Crocus and snowdrop leaves are well advanced above the ground.

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Narcissus ‘February Gold’

The plants I put into my beds in the Autumn are nowhere to be seen but under the soil their roots will be waiting for the first signs of longer and warmer days. The signal to start growing. I know this is a little way off but I am given confidence by the first stirrings in the garden.

Cyclamen coum and Helleborus hybridus

January 1st is the start of the official new year but I think for me it begins on January 6th when, with decorations down and packed away and like the new growth in the garden, I find my head lifting, energy returns and I have a renewed desire to get outside into the garden and allotment and commence the gardening year.


7 thoughts on “The Christmas Lull”

    1. I am wrapped up very warm. Mind you once you start digging you soon warm up and the delight of coming back in to a nice cup of hot tea is ample reward.


  1. Waiting until the 23rd made the whole thing much more exciting. It also fitted perfectly with the male approach to do everything at the last minute. 😁


  2. Well, in my view, as long as there are birds afoot, a garden is an exciting place.
    Also, in my nievety, I was about to throw out a Clematis that I failed to pot-on and thought I had killed, and then suddenly saw those beautiful new green shoots – joy of joy: Clematis “Corinne” will live again.
    And who doesn’t love a Hellebore? “Chrismas Carol”, which I bought with you Tess when we last went to Wisley, is a real winner: huge succulent star-like white flowers against lovely dark leaves. A real pick me up when you look out of the window on a cold rainy day! Thanks for the inspiring blog. 🍂🕷🍂


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