I've heard it said that a gardener's work is never at an end, as it begins with the new year and continues to the next. (John Evelyn) Such is a Happy New Year's greeting...at least for gardeners, like myself, and while this time of the year conjures up thoughts of deep snow drifting over the perennials and bitter north winds blowing throw the bare tree branches, here at Blooming Hill, the weather was mild through Christmas week, if not downright balmy and is only now turning breezy, cold and a little more "New Yearish" but still not too bad.
So, what's a gardener to do? Well, other than fix a few spotlights up in the spindly tree branches, maybe play little golf with the prodigal son to take my mind off of the plant and seed catalogs that are beginning to pile up in the corners of my house. Those just have to wait for real winter weather in order for me to get a good garden fix during the coldest of days.
In the meantime, I think I shall also enjoy the quiet beauty of the winter garden. The vignettes of still life seem to be taking a much needed respite from the weather extremes of 2011. When it was hot is was very, very hot and when it was cold it was very, very cold. So, a little in between is just what is just about right here at jolly old Blooming Hill in early January. I won't get too comfortable, however. I have a sneaking suspicion that the extremes are coming in 2012 as well!
The muted tones of January here at Blooming Hill create their own brand of brush strokes on a natural canvas of winter texture and form. While I remember the summer garden bursting with wide-awake activity, the winter garden slumbers under the crisp blue sky and the chilly yellow sun. The cornucopia of color did not end with the first frosts, rather, it continues to shine softly on these first beautiful days of this new year from the royal red of Gulfstream Nandina to the waxed emerald green leaves of the Southern Magnolia (grandiflora).
Yet, the gardens sleep with one eye open anticipating whatever the weather may bring in the coming days as the Pussy Willow catkins start swelling and the golden flecks on the Witch Hazel begin to bloom into tiny, velvety pearls.
There are still plenty of holly berries and even some winter berries left for the birds to dine on. Perhaps they know to leave some for harsher days to come. Even the squirrels seem not as busy scampering through the yard as an occasional fox peeps out from behind the shed out back. I wish he would stand still long enough for me to get his picture. I suppose he's more focused on hunkering down, for a long winter.
And, so it goes, as the Maiden Hair Mescanthus grass flutters and tangles happily in the shadows of the cool winter air, the birds find refuge in the laurel branches along the hillside while they wait to reopen their summer homes in the welcoming arms of the crepe myrtles and the river birches The bark on these trees look like mixed-media art projects, to me, with thick texture and rich color.
Even the curious devil deer seem content with this weather as they help themselves to a little New Year's lavender plant pie. I know I should resign myself to the fact that they aren't going anywhere no matter how unwelcome they are. They must think I like them since I'm always taking their picture as they help themselves to whatever suits their fancy in my garden beds. Just business as usual here at Blooming Hill as all is Merry and Bright, in a winter garden sort of way. Happy New year!