By Nick Condron
Our Garden Gate was closed for November, to all but essential staff for keeping the garden ticking over, in line with the second lockdown. Yet nature has continued to wend its way regardless.
December means the onset of winter once more, and the final fallen leaves lose their scrunch as they decompose into the mush of life, there is plenty of seasonal interest to stimulate the senses throughout the garden.
One plant that particularly catches the eye right now, and that’s a great hardy addition to any garden, is the Mahonia japonica. It’s an impressive, upright, evergreen shrub with deep green spiky leaves that has racemes of often fragrant, bright yellow flowers from late autumn. These are followed by black or purple berries, which I’ve noticed the blackbirds absolutely adore feasting on.
Under Linda’s ever encouraging guidance before Christmas we made wreaths and other decorations. Amidst the rainbow of brightly coloured materials and past work on display, that distinguishes their work space in amongst all of our natural shades of green, there is always the opportunity for the artistic act of self-expression to work its unique magic. Any donations of bits and bobs that might find their way to being made into something interesting and attractive are always welcomed, and plenty of their creations are sold on our open days to raise funds for the garden.
Meanwhile, Paul has finally become a full-time medieval lumberjack, complete with a devilishly ingenious traditional workmate. In no time at all, he has constructed a corrugated iron roofed bicycle rack from the chestnut poles he had help from energetic co-workers to strip the bark from last month. The completed project is a most effective addition to our array of similarly characterful wood-built structures, and promises to keep visiting bicycles sheltered from the elements for many winters to come.