Friday, 11 December 2009

December in the Garden

Yesterday was probably the last time this year that I spent a few hours in the garden. We were granted a rare sunny day between the rains of the past few weeks and the winter fogs, ice and wind to come. It was an opportunity to go out with my camera and search for those plants which are still pleasing to the eye at this otherwise so drab and dreary time of year, when staying indoors by the fire is much the preferred option.

I found a surprising number of plants worth recording. It has always been my habit to ensure winter interest in the garden, after all, my kitchen window looks out over the main part and I like to linger there, idly surveying the bird feeders which are alive with small birds coming for their allocation of seeds, nuts, fat and kitchen scraps. There is a constant traffic between the feeding stations and the surrounding trees and hedges with frequent stop-overs at the seed heads of herbaceous plants left standing for just this purpose. Fragrance is also important to me and there are several winter flowering fragrant shrubs planted close to the back door and the path which I use most often to get to the back gate.

Phormium with their stiff strap leaves

the bronze grasses

and the prostrate euphorbias all give shelter to insects
in their convoluted and enclosed hearts,
providing feeding grounds for birds all winter.

The Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica)
is a large shrub providing primarily winter interest with its gorgeous,
genuinely grey tassels and grey-green leaves which are glossy green
above and woolly grey below.
The shrub is evergreen and will provide shelter for birds in all weathers.
Garrya will grow anywhere, in sun or shade and poor, sandy or chalky soil.
It does not like cold winter winds and would prefer to be grown in some wind shelter.

 Choysia Ternata is lovely at any time of year.
Crush the leaves and their beautiful fragrance will reach out to you.
Choysia is evergreen and when grown in a sheltered spot will blaze at you
 all winter, particularly so when caressed by sunlight.

came out too; all his walks recently have been muddy ones;
He enjoyed a stroll about the garden which didn't end
in him being rubbed down before he was allowed back
into the house.

and finally, the King of the winter garden, the holly bush.
Although I grow several varieties, the variegated and golden leaved ones among them,
at this time of year I make for the dark-green, spiny-leaved, red-berried ones.
Making sure that I leave enough of the berries for our winter visitors,
the fieldfares and redstarts, as well as our all-year resident, the blackbird,
I cut the straightest twigs for the house;
a Christmas house without holly in vases and small, home-made
decorative arrangements is unthinkable, as is
a front door without its holly wreath to welcome visitors.


  1. Delightful. Perfect atmosphere for a little poetry reading.

  2. My favourite one is the plant which looks like a dog.

  3. You obviously have a lovely garden, Friko - and are so knowledgable about it! I am hopeless at gardening and can only enjoy what others do. Fortunately the world has people like you.

  4. So glad to see something other than white here! Yes, Friko, lots of snow (60 cm on the cottage roof) in a week. And, no, it is not normal, at least for a week of snow! Maybe across three months... I keep shoveling! Thanks for visiting My Muskoka!

  5. I love your garrya elliptica particularly, fab photos of all your plants. I am a big fan of euphorbia and have the myrsinites too, might have to make lots of it, it looks so good in your photo.

  6. Beautiful holly picture - aren't those berries vibrant? Who could begrudge a few berries for the Redstarts. Love the flash of red as they take to the wing.

  7. Hello Friko,
    what a lovely walk through your garden. Enjoy..winter is coming soon.
    Winter has arrived in Guildwood and it is quite cold. Not much snow, but very windy conditions.
    Will come back to look at your Christmas decorations;-)
    LG Gisela

  8. Many of the plants in your winter garden are familiar to me. We've had fun looking for shrubs that will thrive now that we have fenced against the deer

  9. My Friko - your 'winter' garden is delightful! Enjoyed this walk with you and your informative descriptions of each plant. That silk tassel bush is beautiful - and, of course, the holly! Do you make your own wreaths?

  10. Such a lovely garden, Friko.

    All hail the holly
    and sweet dogs and their mistresses!

    Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  11. Glad I dropped in, for more than one reason. Enjoyed that walk around your winter garden but also found the name of a plant that our friends lost to the bushfires in February. Luckily I had taken a photo of it before the fires; I was going to take it to a nursery to order one for our property.

    But you've named it here, "Garrya elliptica"! My friend, Pam, loved it and will be thrilled that we now have a name and can both place one on order!

    Also love your Holly; was searching for a little sprig on the web this morning to decorate my blog, found one and it'll do but love your photo!!

  12. lovely dog pointing strongly at what I wonder.
    You have lots of lovely plants in your garden.

  13. Friko

    The Silk Tassel Bush is the one that really caught my eye. Now you've given me an idea for a Christmas present. Thanks.

  14. Your garden sounds and looks like it is lovely any season of the year. The holly is so bright and jolly – I wish I could have one in our garden. We have an Oregon holly and it has grown to the size of a truck – the birds love it.

  15. I am so happy to have met you.
    I too cut Holly for my house and Pine boughs for vases.
    May you have a very blessed holiday.

  16. I loved your post because I used to be one of those people who believed that the onset of winter was the end for gardens. Although I am not the one doing the gardening at home, that's my wife, I do chip in, cutitng the grass and moving the heavy pots. Lovely pictures of your green space and your lovely dog. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  17. Tabor - thank you, a bit of poetry heals much...

    Fran - getaway with you, he's not a plant, he's a choccy!

    Deborah - thank you, it's something I'm good at, for once.

    Jenn - and I will again, if only to see if you've managed to dig yourself out!

    elizabethm - evergreens and winter show-offs are a must for any self-respecting gardener.

    mountanear - I haven't seen them yet this year, must have been too mild. Or maybe they still find enough food elsewhere.

    guild-rez - thanks for visiting, there are a few photos to come of the Christmas 'Kitsch", which I admit, I adore.

    Pondside - glad you found something of interest. Gardening is a passion of mine. Others can paint, I garden.

    Bonnie - yes, I do try my hand at some things, not always very successfully.

    Cloudia - lovely little poem, thank you. Aloha to you, dear friend.

    Alaine - I'm glad you dropped in too, even more glad that you found what you were looking for. Help yourself to my holly, Alaine, I won't be using it.

    Glenis - thank you for visiting, I shall check out your blog too. The dog's nose probably points at something to eat, he is a labrador, after all.

    Martin H - you need a big space to do him justice, but he also takes kindly to being cut back quite drastically.

    Vagabonde - I don't know what an Oregon holly is, I shall look him up.

    Q - thanks for visiting; You too shall be looked up.

    Cuban - There's lots to see in both garden and nature in winter; all you need is eyes to see. Greetings from Shropshire.

  18. Oh, so beautiful, Friko! I have to say, I like gardens in every season, even winter! Glad you had a warm day!!! Hugs, Silke

  19. What a lovely stroll in your garden! The only one I have is a holly tree. I noted the comment above from Vagabonde...our had grown over 20' tall and so bushy it was quite unruly. In October I had an arborist come and prune it and it's been such a treat. You have reminded me, however, to snip some cuttings to have in the house for the holidays.

  20. So beautiful! What a wonderful garden you have to spend time in. :)

  21. Thank you for taking us on a walk round your garden. It was great having wonderful Benno join us!

    I love winter gardens ... the shapes are so interesting and the color range is there, for those who pay attention.

    You've reminded me to make sure to find some holly by this weekend to go in a big vase. Christmas really is drawing near! xo

  22. Fantastic garden and lovely shots !! Simply nice and beautiful !!Unseen Rajasthan

  23. Liebe Ursula,
    ich finde es wundervoll, wie lebendig Dein Garten im Winter ist. Es ist eine ganz besondere Zeit, in der man genau schauen muss und wenn die ersten Fröste dann alles verzaubern ist es am allerschönsten.

    Bei mir stiebitzen die Vögel die ganzen Beeren, ich habe sie wohl zu sehr verwöhnt.

    Ich wünsche Dir noch eine harmonische Adventwoche!

    alles Liebe

  24. Silke - Danke fuer deinen Kmmentar, Silke,; Frohe Weihnachten!

    Lydia - thanks, enjoy your holly (I don't know what an Oregon holly is; I really have to google it). Happy Christmas!

    Shattered - I love it, I love to work in it; it's so very relaxing and gets your mind off things.

    frances - thank you for your sweet message, Frances. Have a happy Christmas!

    Unseen Rajasthan - All the way from the UK to Rajasthan, I wish you a happy season.

    veredit - danke fuer die liebe Nachricht und deine guten Wuensche. Bald ist der Advent vorbei und wir koennen die Feiertage geniessen. Ein wunderschoenes, ruhiges Fest wuensche ich dir, Isabella.

  25. I loved the Tassel bush. What a beautiful photo story. Yes to look out over things seems drab but detail is so pleasing. I have Nandina and Holly and love the bird feeders. Very nice post. It has been Santa's workshop at our house.

  26. You found some beautiful colour in your garden, you can be proud. Benno is gorgeous too.

  27. What beautiful photos! I enjoyed relaxing tonight and wandering through your garden! Merry Christmas!


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.