Thursday, 3 December 2015

Christmas warmth

It is early December in the Forest of Dean, currently the thermometer says sixteen degrees, the plants are still growing, the pests and diseases are still proliferating and I am still working in gear I usually wear in mid autumn. Apparently Christmas is soon and all we've had for winter weather is one light frost a few weeks ago, it certainly doesn't feel at all “tis the season”. In another week it'll be time for me to start knuckling down to making wreaths and table decorations whilst the garden is crying out for a break but until the temperatures takes a serious tumble that looks to be a long way off.

The problem is that there is a multitude of jobs that need to be done yet the job list is being constantly reordered, lawns are still growing but now the ground is too wet to mow on, leaves still cling to plants that usually have entered their winter prune time. The garden is confused and it is the gardeners job to try and soothe this turmoil especially when at the back of our minds is the ever present fear that the cold could suddenly descend before the garden has had chance to prepare itself. On the plus side however it does mean certain job windows have been enlarged, planting of bulbs and the relocation of shrubs would normally be best don't before the end of November but the further warm spell means extra time to catch up. I for one buy too many new bulbs every year and every year am racing the season to get them all in, more care does need to be taken as the ground is so damp it would be all too easy for rot to set in but a generous handful of grit in the base of each hope should sort that.
True to form the garden will always right itself in the end and you can be sure that spring will be here before you know it. Personally I love a good cold snap, I know where I am when huddling against the elements in multiple layers, chilled fingers sticking out my gloves, breath crystallising in the air in front of me, daydreaming of the hot shower and cuppa waiting for me at home.

Thankfully the Forest reacts more to the strength of light than overall temperature and after giving us a stunning autumnal display is now bedding down before the bud burst of new growth next year, looking to the forest floor there is still plenty of signs of life and the birds and animals are making full use of the extra food available. The mud is plentiful leaving us footprints of the wildlife we don't usually see, boar and deer are clearly roaming far and wide at the moment, a little too far and wide when looking at the state some village greens and verges have been left in. As always it is an absolute joy to be out walking amongst the trees, I love the Forest and would gladly spend every day in it but for now I have to fuel my arboricultural addiction with mini strolls through the woodland gardens at work.

So though the season may be all mixed up it's still a joy to be out whether catching up on jobs in the garden or filling your lungs with the breath of the trees.