The halls are decked and by now the garden and allotment are in tip top shape-earth dug, and richly fertilised, a blank canvas awaiting New Year inspiration. Icy winds and driving rain may prevent us from spending as much time in our outdoor space as we might like but in the quieter moments of December we may find our imaginations running wild all over it from the warmth and cosiness of our homes. Poring over the seed catalogues, planning exactly what we will do when the days grow longer and warmer is a singular pleasure of winter. Suttons, Dobie’s and Thomas & Morgan have been selling seeds since the 1800s as well as providing the catalogues that have piqued so many gardeners’ winter interests. Thomas Etty is another august purveyor of heritage seeds and bulbs. Follow this link to their 2016 catalogue and you are sure to be rewarded with a very enjoyable and informative armchair experience:

http://thomasetty.co.uk/seeds/veg-flower-2016.pdf

Deep winter is a good time to prune anything except stone fruit trees. Cut at a slant, two fingers up from the bud.

Birds stopping by on their way from Scandinavia to warmer climes will appreciate a birdseed buffet and sources of unfrozen water, so remember them as well as all your old faithfuls this Christmas.

 

If cold December gave you birth
The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.

 

The winter comes: the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
the white drift heaps against the hut;
and night is pierced with stars.
 Coventry Patmore  

 

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Wallace Stevens 

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Dr. Seuss