Happy New Year from Littlebury Road

The short period in between Christmas and New Year is something to be treasured. All of London is empty of people; either in their homes or having left the capital to visit family. The air now chill with winter.

Our garden is at its stillest and quietest in these few days. All of the leaves have fallen from the trees, except for my Buddleja and Sambucus. Still clinging to the odd few.

The corridor of back gardens in which ours sits is an urban oasis, it’s filled with enough trees to attract many birds through the year. Yesterday I saw plump wood pigeons, a magpie, blackbirds and my little robin buddy.

With only the skeletal network of branches left on the few Betula pendula in neighbouring gardens, I noticed for the first time a couple of large evergreen conifers in the distance at the other end of the back garden corridor.

Looking at those trees so far away, for a moment I could have been standing in a natural ravine. The wildlife here must feel the same way.

Winter in the garden is as interesting as the summer. On the face of it there is nothing going on. Look closer and it’s possible to find protected buds and crowns swelling with the shoots for the coming year.

Ferns have established a stout circle of hairy croziers waiting to unfurl, Sedum shoots have emerged in wait, mature Brunnera crowns are thick, Clematis are starting to show a few new shoots around their bases.

Indoors, houseplants have slowed their growth. Though they too are still active at their growing points, readying excitedly for the sun to grow stronger. Like me ordering seeds from a catalogue, it seems the plants too are planning how to make the coming year better than the last.

Of course, some plants are making the most of this less competitive window. Viburnum tinus, Galanthus nivalis, Narcissus and Hellebores are all starting into flower, keeping any active bees on warmer days well fed through the winter.

In contrast to the vivid colour of our garden in summer, the pure white of our winter and spring garden twinkles like diamonds against the greys and browns.

Regardless of the calendar year, the garden itself, is telling us a New Year has already begun. Days have started the slow increase of light, an unstoppable tide rising with each passing night.

With the start of this next chapter, a happy New Year everyone. Thank you for your help, encouragement and laughter over the last twelve months. The friendships I’ve made this year through gardening and mutual appreciation of nature are so important to me.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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