December 2020 Column

Updated: Jan 6

With our classes and events hanging in the balance, we are set for a much quieter December. Notwithstanding the challenging circumstances surrounding this, I for one am going to embrace the enforced stillness and what I have always wanted to be able to do, really, truly enjoy the build up to Christmas and the whole festive period.


Usually I am running Wreath workshops, installing event decoration over night and more this month. For any business, Christmas is a very important time. But I have always felt that something was lost in that. All those activities I wanted to do with the family, the crafting traditions and taking care and time to decorate our own home are relegated behind commitments. This year however, I intend to do exactly as I preach and proverbially ‘waft’ about and really enjoy myself.


Evergreens bought into the home symbolise light through the darkness and with such in the short days this month, I will take every opportunity to get outside and bring them inside.

On walks I will gather tendrils of Ivy, bare branches of beech and larch to weave with fir tree and create garlands over the fireplace and above pictures frames. You can forage from public footpaths and commons, or share your garden bounty with neighbours and swop stems for a more generous selection. As with all ‘foraging’ and generally pruning for stems, I go by the motto that ‘if you can’t see I have been then I have cut responsibly’, leaving some food and shelter for wildlife not to mention keeping any plant well balanced by considered selection.


I will make a generous wreath on a moss based frame using more fir, conifer, teasels, cones and gathered dried grasses and seed heads from the farm collected earlier this autumn. And maybe hang a couple of stems of mistletoe, snaffled from a tree not far from here, that as it let go of its leaves, I had noticed it emerge.


When all feels so uncertain at best, through to downright devastating, I truly find solace in the outdoors. Noticing plants emerging, winter blossom on the Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’ or Viburnum Tinus. Glossy evergreens and swelling buds tell of the annual cycle in the garden. Each has its place and time to shine. December often has very mild days so I try to finish off any planting, bare root plants and trees, roses and perennials before the much lengthier cold periods of January and February. I keep an eye on plants in the polytunnel and greenhouse, willing them through to the Spring and throw a fleece over salvias and pelargonium’s on very cold nights even under cover.


On the 21st December, the shortest day and winter equinox, the days will begin again to lengthen. It really is noticeable by New Year and the year turns again. The garden has retreated, the grass soggy and beds heavy and wet. But far from going to sleep, plants are sending roots and shoots out, recuperating and strengthening beneath the soil, before the spring. It’s a lovely analogy for us too. Resting during these short days and preparing ourselves for the New Year, in all ways, will certainly put us in the best position for the best year. As I say every season, I can’t wait to see my plans in growth in the next flower season and have another go.


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