There is a lot of counting down in December, many of us lighting an advent candle to mark each day leading us to Christmas day, others indulging in a chocolate a day (I do both!). Some of us count down to finishing school or work for the Christmas break or to the Christmas party. My countdown though is to Winter Solstice! This is more often than not on the 21st December but this year it is tomorrow, the 22nd December, more precisely at 04.49. The day after which the days start to get longer again and for me the promise of Spring.
Spring you might say though has come early this year, or have we had a super-long Autumn? Its certainly been very mild here in Huddersfield the last few days, there has been a lot of talk in the media about daffodils and snowdrops being in bloom, blossom on trees. I'm not sure about this as there will definitely be some varieties that given a mild winter will flower earlier, and there are some well-known snowdrops which flower before Christmas anyway. But there is no getting away from the mild weather. Its looking like we may have one of the warmest Decembers on record. My bulbs are starting to come up, I'm planning a day of winter tidying this week, weather permitting, so I'll have to take care not to damage any emerging spikes of foliage. But as soon as we get any cold weather the plants will just sit tight and wait it out. So far we have had one or two frost here and a sprinkling of snow but other than that it has been wet, wet, wet and windy. Its been the lack of sunshine though that has been the hardest to take. There seems to have been a constant gloom throughout December that even the sparkle of Christmas and Strictly has struggled to shine through. But I did manage a walk the other day to forage for some foliage and made a wreath for my dads grave.
I also decorated a willow ring that I made last year and made a couple to give as presents.
Luckily I did manage to get busy at my allotment a few weeks ago, before all this rain, and cover most of the empty beds with a layer of well-rotted manure or compost. I've still got some leeks, cabbages, sprouts, kale, chard and celeriac to see me for a few more weeks. So it is virtually sorted for winter now, just a couple of other beds to tidy up now, like the raspberry bed and the main fruit beds. I even managed to give my shed a good tidy as well!
At this yuletide I have a very welcome visitor to my garden, usually making himself known as I do my check on my greenhouse. What is it about Robins that make you think they are looking right at you, the way they cock their heads and really seem to connect with you. No other birds seem to do that. The little delicate trilling that he makes is a sure sign that he is around and waiting for some mealworms.
Enjoy the Winter Solstice and the return to longer days.