Winter has finally arrived in my part of the world. Although there has been no further snow since the flurries last week, in recent days I have woken to heavy frosts that have left the ground frozen throughout the day and put an end to any plans of gardening that I have had. The cold temperatures have also halted the development of my hellebores and snowdrops – and there is not even a sign of any aconites yet which are always in flower by mid January. There is plenty of promise – white tips of snowdrops, heavy hellebore buds and lots of bulbs breaking through the surface of the frozen soil but for now they are all suspended – waiting for the temperatures to rise a little before the rush to flower continues.
In the absence of any new flowers from the garden to share with you today I once again was inspired by the bare branches that I admire so much on my garden walks. I particularly love a branch that is decorated with catkins and when that branch has a lovely elegant form about it I am tempted to bring it inside to enjoy in the warmth of the house.
Having recently used some hydrangea Annabelle heads cut from the garden, today I decided to raid my stores of mop head hydrangeas that I dried back in the autumn. These dried flower heads have a surprisingly long life and have happily survived since before Christmas tucked away in a bin bag in the under stairs cupboard. I particularly love the colours of the pink and blue hydrangeas as the petals dry out – the resulting combination of moody purples and parchment shades is a perfect palette for a January day. I also added a few eucalyptus leaves to provide a fresh touch to the arrangement. I planted a eucalyptus a few years ago and it is cut back hard every spring to keep the size under control so during January and February I can cut freely knowing that anything left will end up on the compost heap in March.
After the twinkling fairy lights of December, simple candles sum up my mood in January and I had to add them to this seasonal composition.
I was delighted to discover on taking a closer look at these vase mates that the purple colours in the catkins reflect the purple in the hydrangeas and the grey green eucalyptus leaves are a match for the same green in the catkins. I could not have matched these three more perfectly if I had tried.
Ruby was in the kitchen with me when I was photographing my vase so she had to feature here today. She had an unexplained accident shortly after Christmas – either a brush with a car or a fall left her in a bad way for a few days, so I am happy to report that she now seems completely recovered.
In the absence of any gardening this week I have been keeping busy organising both my house, which has been much neglected in recent months, and going through my mothers things – a very emotional job. I always knew that my mother was very organised and could be relied upon to have her affairs in order – what I did not know is just how much of herself she left recorded in notebooks and photograph albums – favourite poems, newspaper clippings, beautiful letters from her friends and relics from our family life when I was a child in Canada. It has made me wonder if I make enough of an effort to document and record our family life for my own children. In many ways I regard this blog as my journal, containing much of what is important to me as well as snippets about the high days and holidays.
This blog is an online record though and as with so many ways that we save our history these days – on mobile phones, FaceBook, computers etc, it seems so vulnerable to disappearing in the future. Albums and notebooks can be touched and stored – but they do take up a lot of space as I am finding now that I have to incorporate my mothers treasures into my own already full house. I am interested to know how you store your memories and whether you believe that we can rely on cloud storage, hard drives etc to keep our precious records.
As we near the end of January I can sense my weeks of calm reflection and hibernation are coming to an end. The first big social occasion of my year, Burns Night, will be celebrated on Saturday at the lovely cosy thatched cottage of a friend – and after that the calendar is starting to fill up. The garden should hopefully be full of flowers again very soon and the longer days will give me time to catch up with the jobs that are building up during this enforced period inside. February will bring a flurry of seed sowing as well as lots of clearing and weeding to get things ship shape before the tulips start to emerge.
As ever I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden today to join in her lovely challenge to find something from the garden to bring into the house every Monday – please do pop over to her blog to see what she and the others have found to display this week. I am sorry that I have not been back with my January jobs yet, but I am so behind with my jobs as a result of the frozen temperatures that the January list looks likely to be added to February’s jobs.