The first frosts arrived in December. Not many, but the odd morning of crisp white shimmer on the grass and bulbs. December is another month I rarely see the garden so it was lovely to be here. Feeding the birds, watching the skies full of clouds and rain. December would normally be a manic month, shopping for gifts, preparing for Christmas, seeing friends, going to concerts. This was a very different December.

I was actually ready with all my Christmas gift shopping by the end of November. The joy of everything needing to be done online meant my organisation skills went into overdrive. There’s no quick nipping to the shops this year – everything was done online, apart from a couple of gifts I bought in July in the garden centre. I even bought all my wrapping paper online. So when December dawned I was ready to start celebrating as early as possible.

We had a pot grown Christmas tree last year who has been valiantly trying to get himself ready for Christmas indoors. Even my normal sentimentality and anthropomorphic tendencies couldn’t make me feel sorry enough for him to bring him indoors. I’m not sure what I did wrong but he was very spindly and brown and not at all festive enough to be decorated. Plus he seemed to have shrunk instead of adding any height at all. So outside he stayed – celebrating on his own with the neighbourhood cats (visitors not residents) and birds in the garden.

I bought a Fraser fir on 8th December. He was magnificent. I don’t have many plants around the house and certainly nothing that flowers or has any scent so it was wonderful to walk into the living room and be overwhelmed with the pine scent. I should say is magnificent because as I write this entry at the end of January Fraser is still sitting in the corner of the living room. I re-decorated him from his Christmas regalia to a “Winter” style at the beginning of January so he has been festooned with paper snowflakes for 3 weeks now. This is his last weekend with us as he has finally dropped a lot of needles and his branches are drooping enough that even I can see his time has come. I will miss him but I plan to leave him in a bucket of water in the garden to see if he might develop roots (apparently it can happen so I figured what harm would it do). If he doesn’t root we’ll chop him up and put his branches to good use in the log pile at the back of the garden, which has hopefully been a refuge for insects during the cold months.

The bulbs I planted back in October and November are doing brilliantly well. I am so excited for them to start flowering – hopefully in about 6 or 8 weeks time. I planted the rectangular tub very heavily – I was trying to replicate the city centre displays you see sometimes on roundabouts and I hope it doesn’t do them any harm to be so close together.

The broccoli is still doing well, starting to really look like something we can eat. The onions are definitely snoozing. The spinach, parsley and lettuce are still hanging on and I dropped some coriander seeds in the soil and they’ve sprouted too! Don’t think they’ll survive but fun to see in the middle of winter. The strawberries are starting to lose their leaves but I won’t be removing them – I don’t think it does the soil any harm to have a covering of leaves over the winter months.

Onwards to January and what can be an unpredictable month weather wise up here in the North West of England.

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