January 09, 2011


The snow has all melted away for now, and we had a cracking blue-sky day today. I had no excuse not to go out into the garden to see what was happening in my rather unloved half acre of mud. It was not pretty. Only the grasses, catching the afternoon light, and the fiery coloured dogwoods still looked beautiful.

As for the rest, the elegant decay of autumn has been blasted by weeks of ice into slimey piles of decaying vegetation. Everything brown, slippery and dank. It made the shoulders droop slightly to see it, if I am honest.

However, stirred into action by the slanting sunlight and bright blue sky, I marched around, secateurs in hand to do battle with the dead remains of last year's stems and leaves, adding them all onto the compost pile which is now taller than me!

(A compost photo - really this blog is too exciting!)

We have a small woodland area right at the far end of our garden, with the river on one side and a lovely view over fields on the other. It is only a little, wild looking space but I love it because the feel of it is so different from the openess of the rest of the garden and it changes so dramatically with the seasons. I also love it because we had to clear thick, tangled scrub to make it and somehow something that was hard to create has a special pleasure to it. At this time of year it is thick with fallen leaves. I have planted lots of woodland plants and bulbs under the trees and should, perhaps, clear these leaves so they don't smother the new Spring growth. But I don't bother much because I figure that a woodland that can't cope with leaf fall is no wood at all! So, when I looked around, the woodland floor was covered thickly by leaflitter -not much else was visible.

However, curiosity got the better of me and a little light scraping in the area where snowdrops grow revealed this,

and where the hellebores grow, this...

So, out in the cold, deep in the mud and leafmould, life is stirring, potential awaits and an elemental pulse is beating out of view, gestating, preparing to burst into life. An absurdly happy prospect.


  1. Looking for some promise right now. Thank you for this.

    Every day we get another minute of daylight,this is good. It will be spring in these parts in 2 months, this is even better.

    I got to do some clean up last week, God it felt good.

    Now I want to do dig around my new bulbs but I remember that I didn't plant any. Grrrr,

    xo Jane

  2. I am so proud of you for doing anything in the garden right now. It's just too @#$#@ cold in these parts to do anything except peek outside occasionally. No snow drops for me, but one hellebore in bloom - a dark purple one. I hope to have some pink and white in a week or two.

    And, I love your compost pile. It has a much nicer view than mine. Carry on!

  3. I like the promise of things to come...your grasses look lovely, and your compost pile is much larger than mine...you must have a huge garden...oh right an acre, I almost forgot!

  4. I love your pictures of the promise of things to come ...we have snow yet, but it has just begun to melt slightly. When I look at your lovely pictures, I hope spring will soon come to my country as well.
    Welcome back to Norway and a Happy New Year to you!

  5. Awesome post, Belinda! The reason everything else dies, is so you can TRULY appreciate those beautiful grasses and, all that sludge and decay has given you a compost heap others will envy!

    The protective layer of leaf debris covering all that new, tender growth bursting through the winter earth, is just what you needed to see you through those cold, snowy weeks - Nature's own snug duvet. Too many gardeners are still far too eager to clear away fallen leaves and litter, in the relentless effort to make things look neat and well-tended, yet this is probably often the worst thing we could do. If you're ever concerned your new plants might be getting smothered, remind yourself of how plants are able to push up through the hardest terrain, even successfully pushing their way through tarred and concreted surfaces! Those leaves are no challenge for them at all and the earthworms will, in time, process the lot and return their goodness to the soil to feed your flowering bulbs through spring and summer. What magic!

  6. That is too exciting. If I wasn't about to go and do more painting I'd pop straight out into our garden to do a bit of poking about. Spring is just around the corner. Well, around the corner, down the road and straight on at the traffic lights... Ax

  7. Things are sprouting!!

    Nina xxx

    ps. Thanks for all your lovely messages recently. N x

  8. I too have red dogwood and tall, tall grasses, I love them at this time of year, the only colour and structure left. Green shoots give us all hope.

  9. I love finding those first shoots of growth. It always feels so positive and a happy reminder that spring will come again however harsh the winter! Your grasses must look spectacular in summer.


  10. I did the very same! It's so good for the soul to get back outside and in amongst it! I loved your picturesof new shoots, lovely,

    Sarah x

  11. Jane - it really does feel good seeing the soil again and scuffing about discovering what is going on out there!

    Webb, well thank you and I will carry on, promise!

    Hostess, thank you, the grasses have been the stars of the garden.

    Lene, welcome to my blog and best wishes to you - roll on the Spring!

    Nina, Thank goodness for the sprouting! Hope you are all on the mend, the soup and bread on your post look scrumptious and very nourishing - food as delicious medicine!

    Lilacs in May - those grasses and dogwoods really earn their keep don't they! Hope - that is what those shoots symbol- how right you are.

    Desiree, thank you for your encouraging comments. I think I was most worried about the soggy leaves causing the new growth to rot, probably unfounded as you say. Yay for laissez-faire gardening!

    A - I'll be ready waiting at those traffic lights for spring when it comes!

    Jeanne, I do love the very early bulbs like snowdrops for giving us that feeling - light at the end of the garden's wintery tunnel.

    Sarah-Jane, I agree, it is like a shot of energy to the soul!

  12. ooh you make me want to get out and clear up the garden now, it has been so badly neglected over the last few weeks.

    Thankyou for stopping by my blog, do give etsy a try, it is really easy to set up, and although I found it slow to start once the momentum gets going sales are really good. Do check out the forums on the site where you can find out more about just about anything. let me know if you decide to go ahead and I will keep in touch and give what help I can
    Louise x

  13. A friend of mine claimed to have snowdrops flowering in her garden locally already but I;ve yet to see a single onbe in our garden. I absolutely can't wait to see that first flash of white. It's one of the best moments of the year.

    Makes me glow just to think of it!

    Oh, and what a very glamorous looking compost pile you have!!