What, no gardening?

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December is a quiet month on the plot. The last of my bulbs were planted in November, in between the torrential downpours, and there is little else left to do.  The cold, wind and rain mean I have to accept that winter is dictating a break from gardening. But what does a gardener do when there is no allotment or garden to tend?

If we’re blessed with beautiful frosty weather I love getting wrapped up and going for walks in the countryside around my home. Winter in Wales tends to be more about wind and rain, so crisp blue skies and faded seedheads rigid and sparkling with frost are a rare treat. Sometimes the frost is so thick it looks, initially, like it has snowed and everything, glistens as if dusted with glitter. Scenes like this are truly magical.

Frost on the Trees

On wet and windswept days I prefer to stay in front of the fire. When we had the log burner fitted and we lit it for the first time we simply spent the night without any lights on watching the orange glow and the flames licking the burning logs. It was mesmerising. Curled up on the sofa by the fire with a cup of tea and a pile of seed catalogues is my preferred way to while away a winter’s night.

My notepad comes out and ideas are formed. The wish list takes on epic proportions and I know in January, when I come to make the order, I will need to be ruthless but for now I can enjoy the ideas whirling around my head about plans for the spring and summer ahead.

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I’ve just bought and constructed a greenhouse so plans this winter will include how I want to use this space and the opportunities it will open up. Cordon tomatoes and chillies are high on the list. I love reading but don’t seem to get much chance for most of the year. So I try to use this time of year to work my way through the ever growing list of books I have come across. I’m not much of a fan of fiction and, inevitably, gardening and nature books feature heavily on my reading list.

This year I made some damson gin for the first time. It has been a bad year for a lot of fruit, the cold spell when the blossom was out meant that yields have been much lower this year. We struggled to find any damsons in the hedgerows but we came across some in a great fruit and veg shop in Bristol. Not quite the same as foraging for some but needs must. The jar of damsons steeping in their sweetened liquor is in our larder and has turned the most beautiful deep crimson colour.

Just before Christmas I will decant it into a bottle ready for a Christmas Eve tipple. The week before Christmas is time to go gathering for natural decorations for our home. I’m not a great fan of tinsel and prefer holly and ivy, pine cones and sprigs of larch dotted about the house and the best thing about them is that after Christmas they can go onto the compost heap. So it might be a gardening free month but there is still plenty to keep me busy.

Thanks for reading!

PS. You can grab a copy of the Sarah Raven Seed 2013 catalogue online, or search seeds by planting month on the website...

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