Early winter garden

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Just a few apples left for the birds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I think it’s safe to say that Autumn is over now, at least it is here in central Scotland. A couple of weeks ago it was still mild and dry, but last week it felt like there was a definite season change. The last of the leaves came off the trees in heavy rain, the temperature dropped, and the daylight hours have dwindled significantly. The garden looks quite sad now. All things told, it certainly feels like December is just round the corner.

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A frosty November morning. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are signs of life amongst the fading foliage and fallen leaves. Spring bulbs are shooting up everywhere: in containers, borders and flowerbeds; they seem more advanced than usual.

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Sprouting bulbs. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The late flowering heather is just coming into bloom. Such a pretty colour and delicate flower for this time of year.

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Just beginning to flower, Winter flowering heather. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As a reminder of the forthcoming festivities less than a month away (I can hardly believe it!), the Santa-red Skimmia berries and the glacial-white snowberry, give seasonal cheer.

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Seasonal berries, Skimmia and Snowberry

And, here is the most regular visitor to the garden at the moment. He seems to appear whenever I go outside, and chirps away from first light. This is his regular perch, in the hollow of a large conifer, not too far from the back door.

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Master of all he surveys. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And so to my final image. This Salvia was planted back in late spring and has been in flower ever since. A truly great value plant. Have a good week 🙂

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Still blooming in late November, Salvia. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My garden in December

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Early Winter sunrise over a Scottish garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a busy month of work for me. I haven’t been around at home for more than a few days at a time, so subsequently, I haven’t had any gardening opportunities.

We haven’t had any snow yet in this part of Scotland, but there have been a couple of very heavy frosts which put pay to most of the flowering shrubs in the garden – I took this picture a few days ago when the temperature had dropped well below zero overnight, the ice beautiful patterns are on the inside of the window!

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Icy window. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Today, I have been able to get outside for a couple of hours – hoorah! There is lot as of clearing up to do after the frosts: plenty of bedraggled shrubs with drooping leaves which make the garden look very sad and now need cutting back. The weather forecasters are saying that we are due some milder weather this coming week, so I should get some out-of-doors tidying up done.

I was happy to see that there is still some colour, here and there, in the more sheltered parts of the garden. A shrub that grows well in several places in the garden is Cotoneaster horizontalis, but usually by now the berries have dropped off or have been eaten by the birds. This one is still covered with fruit and gives a welcome blaze of colour growing up against a small outbuilding wall.

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Cotoneaster horizontalis. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

By next month, the sprawling Winter Jasmine, which grows outside the back door, will be in full bloom. Today there are a few buds breaking open to reveal the cheery yellow blooms I love. It is one of my favourite plants of the season, so delicate and pretty.

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Winter Jasmine flower and bud. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Another favourite is the Snowberry. I see them each Winter growing in other people’s gardens and in the hedgerows, but never get round to planting one for myself. This year, a few straggly branches have appeared growing through an old Camellia bush in the back garden. I will take care now I know it’s there, and see if I can get a better crop next year.

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Snowberries. Image by Kathryn Hawkins

I like to end my monthly garden report with something quirky and unseasonal. I found this wee fellow growing at the top of the rockery, under a big conifer tree, in the back garden. Not sure how he’s managed to remain unscathed from the effects of the frosts, but he was looking very healthy and strong, and truly magnificent in bright blue bloom.

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Solitary Periwinkle in bloom in early December. Image: Kathryn Hawkins