So I promised to return with a visit to my garden journal for 2020 with my entries for December, the last for 2020.
On my first page for December I wrote,‘December, the last month of the strangest year ever, 2020? For us long periods of lockdown, sometimes exaggerated by weeks of shielding, all to help us avoid Covid 19. Our garden was our saviour – what would we have done without it? During this month wildlife shared our patch, hedgehogs have hibernated in the shelters we have provided for them, late bees, wasps and flies continued to enjoy the flowers of plants we grow to help look after them.
Our garden, front and back, features bird feeding stations visited daily by flocks finches and tits, joined by individual blackbirds, robins, dunnock and wren. Members of the thrush family are joined by blackcaps to gorge on berries from plants we have planted specifically chosen for that reason. Kites and buzzard put on flight displays in the sky above the garden, occasionally giving out mewing calls.’
Added the bottom of the page I added three photographs of important winter wildlife plants, providing flowers and berries, Fatsia japonica, Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ and Hedera helix ‘Arborescens’.
My second page features one of my favourite plant families, the ferns, truly an obsession of mine for several years now!
The page opposite displays simply a set of my drawings featuring a skeletal poppy seed-head, fund in our ‘Hot Garden’. Simple beauty! I used pencil, fibre tip pen and Japanese Brush Pens.
‘The winter garden is good at springing surprises, unexpected visits by bees and wasps, out of season flowers and skeletal leaves. This December surprised us by presenting us with a complete skeleton of a poppy seed-head.’
More seed-heads are shown over the page, this time featuring those of agapanthus. ‘We grow lots of agapanthus for their dramatic blue, purple or white spherical flowers in mid and late summer. But come winter and their beautiful skeletal seed-heads take over.’
More of my drawings appear on the page opposite, some sketches done in Japanese Brush Pens. I studied an evergreen pink-flowered geranium which showed us why the family is known as ‘cranesbills’.
Over the page a double page spread features red berried shrubs and a beautiful succulent. On the left hand page I wrote, ‘A mid-December visit to one of our favourite plant centres saw us sorely tempted to acquire a beautiful specimen of Ilex verticillata. Its red berries glow against black stems. We already have a specimen bought a few years ago, again whilst in berry. We did not realise that we needed two plants to get any berries, so the future chances of a repeat berrying seems more hopeful.
We also grow several varieties of shrubby cotoneasters which produce masses of red berries for us to enjoy and equally for thrushes and blackbirds to feast upon. We also grow a tree version but this displays yellow berries!’
I wrote at the top of the right hand page, ‘My flowering plant of the month is one of my favourite succulents, Echeveria ‘Black Prince’, with its deep brown foliage rosette from which a flowering stem emerges. On top of this stem sit bright green buds opening to expose orange-salmon flowers with lemon yellow centres. Arising from the centre is a cluster of bright yellow stamens.’
My final words for December appear on the top of the next page, ‘Foliage is such a powerful force in the December garden, outside in the borders and undercover in our glasshouse, on succulents, grasses, shrubs and perennials.’
So there it is, the last monthly report from my Garden Journal 2020. My next visit to my journal will be for January next year, 2021!