I wasn’t going to bother with an End of Month View post for this month, partly because I wasn’t sure Helen was going to host the meme this month, with it being New Year’s Eve, and partly because it is so grey and dank out there the prospect of photographing the garden in its current state was rather unappealing!

However, I don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions, I always feel they tend to set me up for failure rather than motivating me, and this is intended to be an honest account of my garden in all its states. So here it is, in all its post frost and snow tattiness!

Pond Border Left

The pond border is saved only by the grace of the grasses and sedums. They are still adding structure, and the backdrop of evergreens behind helps avoid a total wasteland look.

Pond Bed Right

The Knautia macedonica is looking very tatty post frost, so I will cut this back and hope that the Stipa tenuissima give enough structure to provide some interest on the left hand end of the bed. I will try following Christina’s method of combing out the dead bits to leave green growth. I also rather desperately need to finish the pond tidying that got curtailed by the sudden hard frosts. The pond has only been completely unfrozen for a couple of days – the birds are delighted – and although the water quality didn’t seem to suffer at all last year when I didn’t clear the leaves at all, I think I might be pushing my luck to go that route again. Hopefully I will avoid having to wade in, as even with pond waders I imagine that would be a little on the cold side, but I also need to trim back the marginal plants.

Magnolia Border

The Magnolia border is looking rather bare, though the tree together with the Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ and the Oak-leaved hydrangea prevent it from being entirely barren. The hydrangea appears to have decided to be an evergreen, which is a little puzzling. The leaves had been hanging like damp dishrags during the frosts, but they seem to have recovered somewhat, and remain stubbornly attached and stubbornly green. Actually rather a bonus at the moment…

The Magnolia is a particular source of delight. I love the shape that FIL has created, making the decision to turn it into a proper tree rather than leave it as a large shrub has worked wonderfully well. The birds – mostly tits of various sorts – seem to find all manner of interesting insects on it, and are a near-constant source of entertainment for anyone stood at the sink. Since even with a dishwasher this is something that tends to happen more than usual at this time of year, I am grateful for their cheerful antics.

Life Amidst Decay

It is terribly easy to fall victim to multiple clichés when it comes to the sight of bulbs pushing through, but I was thrilled to see the crocus beginning to emerge amidst the leaf litter in the Magnolia bed. A succession of grey days and my own extreme tiredness had left me feeling distinctly sorry for myself. Every year, ever since I left home to go to University, I have followed a certain pattern. I live life to the limit, cramming in as much as I can all year until I hit Christmas. In recent years, I make it as far as putting the Christmas Day dinner on the table, and then I hit a wall of exhaustion. I count myself as reasonably intelligent, and surely one of the hallmarks of an intelligent, thoughtful individual is the ability to learn from experience. So you would think that I would have learnt to slow down a little, perhaps just in the run up to Christmas. But at work we always had deadlines we were racing to meet, working right up to the wire, and then gardening tends to mean that Autumn is a busy time too.

I think what compounds the stupidity in my own case is that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which really does not respond well to pushing energy levels to the limit. Nevertheless, the pattern remains, this year as ever. Like the garden, I now need a period of semi-dormancy, so unlike many I am not pining for Spring, grateful though I am for the reminders that it will indeed come. I need this period of respite from the physical activity of gardening to rebuild some energy reserves. So, in all likelihood the pond will still be full of leaves and surrounded by untrimmed marginals at the end of January. This is my time for dreaming, for wrestling with the choices of which tomatoes and chillies to grow, and for plotting how best to use the seedlings that have survived the first Big Freeze in the greenhouse. I’m hoping to use some nifty stuff available on WordPress to help me track what plants I have in the garden and what new ones I might add, with the idea that I might actually plan out what to do with the Pond Bed come Spring. I’ve used planting plans in the past, when creating a new border, but once something has been established I tend to get rather more “spontaneous”. Given that I will be changing so much in the Pond Bed in 2011, I think it might be worth going to the trouble of having a plan. Not that I will keep to it, its role is probably as much as a focus for my dreaming as anything. We’ll see!

Happy New Year, may 2011 be full of gardening and non-gardening delights.

32 thoughts on “End of Month View: December 2010

  1. Thanks for joining in again. I think your photos show what I have noticed in my garden that the grasses really add structure, mine are still quite small but hopefully next year they will look as good as yours.
    I did laugh when I read about you going full blast until Christmas and then collapsing and never learning from this. I am exactly the same. The imposed inactivity that comes with family gatherings over Christmas and everything being shut means I have to stop and then I am exhausted and generally get a full blown cold (not so far this year).
    I hope 2011 is kind to you and maybe next year we can remind each other to slow down – ha ha !

    1. Hello Helen. Here’s hoping you avoid the cold this time! And I guess we could try reminding one another to slow down… Or just share blushes when we blow it yet again…

  2. Sympathy on the CFS. I have Fibromyalgia which is somewhat similar. I have found that the combination of gardening and blogging has done me a lot of good as it counteracts some of the psychological aspects of my condition and puts me in a more positive mood.
    Re cucumbers (as per my blog) – I too was amazed that they did so well in what seemed like a no-hope location. Having cleared some of the overhanging shrubs, they should do even better this year with more light.

    1. Hi Mark, from what I understand it can be somewhat haphazard whether one gets diagnosed with CFS or Fybromyalgia, they are both so poorly understood! Glad the gardening and blogging combination are helping you cope, I find the same. Hope things improve for you in 2011.

  3. End of the month posts are wonderful as you have great references from year to the next as to the condition of the garden at any given time.
    Take care of yourself and pamper yourself a bit more…life happens, enjoy.
    Happy New Year.

  4. Your magnolia is beautifully shaped and adds such nice structure and texture…I can see why it’s a favorite. Your garden is charming even in its dormancy ;-) Rest well and best wishes for the new year!!

  5. Sorry to hear that this time of year finds you at a low Janet but as you say time for taking stock, dreaming, planning and restoring your well being. One thing for sure is that our gardens look better than we would do if we had been standing outside for the last month or so :) Hope that 2011 treats you kindly and I look forward to seeing your garden in the not really so distant spring.

    1. Hello Anna, that made me chuckle! Very glad I can hole up inside and pamper myself with tea and seed catalogues… Happy New Year!

  6. Your garden looks great even post frost, you want to see some real tattiness I could help you out there…..all the best for 2011, kathy

    1. Thank you Kathy! So where’s this tattiness that will make me feel better ?! Happy New Year. ;-)

  7. It all looks like is making an amazing comeback, I am sure they will all recover soon.
    Happy new year!!

  8. I think I resemble my tatty garden at this time of year and I couldn’t sum it up better that this is a perfect year to rest and contemplate. I think it is perfectly fine to let the leaves lie as I do in my pond…the pond recovers when it should in the spring and I remove and clean the garden then…I try diagrams too and then spontaneity strikes which I love…so here’s to a restful beginning to the New Year and wonderful dreams of spring!!

    1. Hi Donna, am encouraged by your pond comment! Happy restful dreaming to you.

  9. Janet, You’ve touched upon several issues that I am addressing in my own garden~The big one being winter interest! It’s quite brown here and with the winter rains settling in~well, my nice looking grasses will be lying down on the job soon! But, I see beautiful structure and loveliness in your garden….I am feeling a little pond envy, too. Happy New Year and may your energy return as the days get longer. gail

    1. Hello Gail, sorry about the pond envy ;-) Winter interest can be tricky, can’t it. I often find myself tempted to add things at this time of year and then realise that they would rob me of space for things I will enjoy more later on, when I am out in the garden more. Good luck with your planning!

  10. Happy New Year! I find myself looking at a long list of jobs with little motivation at this time of year. As soon as I feel a bit better I’m going to throw myself headlong into it….well give it another couple of days! Best wishes.

    1. Well, we all deserve a bit of down time! Happy New Year Damo, good luck with all your new ventures.

    1. I definitely appreciate having four seasons, though I think I might find tundra a little challenging! Stay warm!

  11. Happy new year Plantaliscious. I hope you are enjoying the post-Christmas lull. Although winter is a time I dread for the short cold days and not being able to be outdoors as much, I’ve come to appreciate this time of dormancy. I think we need it as much as plants do. Like you say, time for dreaming and planning – when would we get the chance if it was always spring? And your magnolia is beautiful. How lovely to watch those furry buds fatten up.

    1. Absolutely, a season for spending more time indoors dreaming ready for the excitement of Spring. I think our ancestors were forced to live far more in tune with the seasons. We seem to have lost the knack of slowing down.

  12. aloha and happy new gardening year and i see from the exciting bulbs coming out into your garden that it is a great start to the year!

    1. Aloha Noel! Happy 2011. Looking forward to seeing more exotica from you to brighten up my winter!

  13. I really like these end of the month posts. I will have to bookmark it so I can join next month. Only problem is here we are most likely covered in snow. But I do like seeing other peoples gardens throughout the year. Such variety around the globe from month to month.

    1. Hi Donna, yes do, join in! It is a wonderful way of logging progress and getting feedback on problem areas, ans as you say, gives a view of different gardens around the globe.

  14. Janet, I hope you have a restorative respite during this down-time in the garden! Even with things having slowed down, there are quiet pleasures to enjoy–as you point out. My Southern California garden’s rhythms usually give me a bit of quiet time in midsummer–which I enjoy dearly–until the winter rains propel the weeds into overdrive (which is what I’m dealing with right now).

    1. Thank you James – good luck with your weed-busting! Living with the rythm of the seasons rather than fighting them has to be the way to go.

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