Friday, 23 January 2015

Never a dull day

In mid January it can be hard to find the motivation to step into the garden.  The days are short and dull, there may be rain forecast, and if the sun is shining then you will have to wrap up in so many layers it may feel like it’s just not worth it.  After the excesses of the festive season, the glitter, the lights and the merriment, it feels like there is nothing but dark days ahead until the first bulbs of spring pop up.

Hamamamellis mollis after a shower
But think again.  Maybe without the brash lights and glitter, and without the full on blooms of spring and summer we can see true beauty in the garden?  Those stolen moments that can be so often overlooked.  The rich chestnut browns and copper coloured stems. The bent heads held in ice and the quietness and stillness of a beautiful sunset.  This is a unique time of year when we gardeners can have a rest from the endless cycle of weeding and mowing, and we can enjoy the beauty of the garden with a clear conscience.

And the scent...! The botanic garden is full of scent right now. It is so hard to capture an aroma to relive it at a later date.  Maybe the scent seems more beautiful when all around is dormant.  The many plants flowering now, such as the Hamamelis mollis (witch hazel), the Edgeworthia chrysantha and the Chimonanthus praecox (Winter sweet), are all vying for the attention of the few insects that are in flight, using scent as their tool.

As the sun sets in the mid afternoon, the shape of the gnarled Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) and the Magnolia x soulangeana take on new importance when the texture and colour of the bark is no longer visible.

The silhouette of Magnolia x soulangeana  

The botanic garden is open every day throughout January, and the arboretum is open throughout the week, so there is plenty of time to catch those moments that can be overlooked, and to gain the restfulness and calm before the inevitable spring madness takes over.

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