Archive for the ‘Surroundings’ Category

At 12:12 on 21/12/2012 the Winter Solstice will finally arrive. This means that today is the shortest day of the year, of course, and because the solstice happens just after noon the coming night will be the longest – by mere seconds. Tomorrow will be a longer day, and the night after tomorrow will be a shorter night.

Isn’t this WONDERFUL??? I know everybody talks about Christmas these days – myself included – but really the solstice beats Christmas…

Winter Solstice Sunrise

The picture above was taken at 9:15 as I was taking a walk through the forest and the sun was slowly making it’s way over the horizon. Technically speaking sunrise was at 8:41, but because of hills and trees I only saw it half an hour later.

The Solstice is of course the reason the Romans celebrated their Saturnalia – which came to define the time of Christmas, it seems, since nobody really knows when Jesus was born (let’s face it, Christian or not there is firm historical indications that a man called Jesus lived in what is now Israel in the years after 0AD; whether he was the Son of God or not is a matter I shall let others discuss) – and also the time for the Norse Yule celebrations.

So whether you are Christian or not, the holiday season is a celebration of the coming of light. For the ancient Norse it was the coming of the light of the Sun, for Christians it was the coming of the “Light of the World”. However, leaving all religion aside I think that as gardeners we should definitely celebrate the coming of the light of the Sun; just imagine, in a few months it will be time for winter aconites and snowdrops, then daffodils and tulips and before you know it we will all be saying to each other “well, maybe next year I will find time to do X, Y and Z…”

Tonight I shall be celebrating the Winter Solstice by stoking a warm fire, cuddle up with a nice book and lots of candles. Light and warmth to ward off the darkness and the cold – even if the coldest months are still to come. And then, when I grow tired, I will retreat to a warm bed, cuddle up under the duvet and blankets and do my best to sleep through the longest night and wake up to a new day that will be just a little longer than today.

Happy Solstice to all, and a Merry Christmas and a Bountiful New Year!

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Winter sunrise

Evening sky

This morning the sky was amazing to the North-West! It was one of those crisp. cool winter mornings where the sunrise actually looked better when you were looking to the other side of the horizon… I can’t quite understand how the sky can turn pink towards the horizon opposite the sunrise, but there you go…

This evening, though, there’s a distinct feel of thaw in the air, and my snow lanterns have even started to collapse. More frost is forecast, though, so the snow that melts now will soon turn into ice… It will be a nightmare to walk on the roads – and even now it’s pretty slippery.

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On Friday afternoon – November 30th – I was finishing off the last cut of the lawn when I was rudely interrupted by downpour of the non-liquid sort! It was snowing, and even though it was only a very light snow fall I figured one shouldn’t mow the lawn while it was snowing in any description.

So come Saturday December 1st – the first day of winter according to the Danish calendar – I woke up to this:

Snowy lawn

Yes, that is my lawn. All my mowing work hidden beneath a blanket of white which – although pretty – rather destroyed my attempts to make the lawn look good for winter. Not that a snow-clad lawn doesn’t look good, of course, but it would have looked equally good if I hadn’t mowed it… Dammit!

snowy  garden

It does give a certain romantic Christmas feel to the house and the garden, though, when the snow is covering everything. (And that picture was taken yesterday; today it looks even better!)

Snowy garden

This photo was taken this morning. More snow, and yes I know that a phone camera is hardly the right tool to capture the movement of snowflakes, but you will just have to accept the stripy nature of that picture…

Snowy dogwood

The red dogwood branches looked particularly striking with a covering of snow on them.

Oh, if you knew how Spring used to be good!
Snow-white branches, like stretched-out verses,

snow-white on blue.

By day and by night stood my mighty

heart of burning joy

with wide-open door towards each fracture of light

and towards each little sound.

(Morten Nielsen, 1922-1944)

Snowy goldenrods

The goldenrods look amazing in the snow; like white fireworks exploding in the borders! Of course, almost any plant looks amaxing with a dusting of snow; it somehow just seems to negate their brief glory and reassure them that there is another life, another way to be beautiful. Even withered and old, perennials can still be stunning.

(And I must confess, the fluffy spikes of the goldenrods looked pretty damned amazing even before the snow!)

Snowy Puddles

And in-between all this snow there is ice, too. The Puddles have iced over, though not solidly enough for the snow to settle on the ice , yet. Eventually, though, they will freeze quite deep, and I just hope they won’t freeze to the bottom so my water lilies might survive. In normal ponds and small lakes the water will rarely freeze beyond 6 inches, but since The Puddles consist of still-standing water in a very small quantity they might freeze deeper. (And they are only a foot deep…)

Snowy forest

The snow makes the forest near our holiday home look amazing, though; it’s like walking through a fairy tale! I love the forest in spring, but really it probably looks its best with a coat of snow… Everything is so quiet, so muted by the softness of the snow, and even the stark branches of oaks and beeches take on a poetic nature.

We are stuck right between the forest and the fjord, so here’s the other part of our winter:

Snowy fjord

The fjord looks beautiful in proper winter weather; the shore is snow-clad, and the rocks in the shallows show signs of icing-over on the wind-side. I must confess I really want to see this from my kayak, but by now the temperature in the fjord waters will be low enough to kill you quite easily, so I remain ashore.

Snow lantern

And if you have no way of going – safely – to sea, and your lawn is flat and white and dull, what better way to spice it up than by building a snow lantern or two? The Americans might have high-jacked the Jack-o-lantern, but here in Scandinavia we still have our snow lanterns. They are not tied to a specific festival of any kind; merely something you build in the midst of winter to bring some light into the darkness.

Snow lanterns

(The different hues are because I use glass tea-light holders to shelter the candles from the snow beneath, and one happened to be red and the other petroleum green. It looks a bit garish when there’s just the two of them, but if we were to have guests up here I might build enough to make it seem like every snow lantern was a different, glistening jewel.)

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I recently splurged on a new pair of wellies. My old ones were a) two years old, b) not a very good quality and c) leaky, so I think it was a justifiable expense. After much humming and hawing I ended up selecting a very fetching little number from Karrimor, and they are definitely leagues beyond my old one, though they didn’t cost more. Only goes to show, sometimes price and quality are in no way connected…

New Wellies

So to test them I went down to the fjord to see if they will hold the water out, and they DO! Now, this is perhaps not surprising, but having worn leaking wellies for a couple of months now this really is a wonderful feeling! I got them a size too large, so I need to wear two pair of thick woolly socks for them to fit, but this was on purpose since there really is no inbuilt warmth in wellies.

God, I love them!

They do look very much like a new pair of wellies still – not surprisingly – but I’ll soon have them muddied up so they fit in with the rest of my gardening attire. (Please note how both knees have gone on my gardening jeans…)

Anyway, since I was down there and had the phone out, here’s the view:

Swans on the fjord

The weather is being very “November”, but fortunately with very little rain, so it’s all right, even though I’d like to see the sun again some day. The white dots on the water are swans – hundreds of them! I guess they find it easy to fourage in the shallow waters of the fjord – my new wellies could probably take me 300 meters out in the fjord before the water becomes too deep…

There’s not too much going on in the garden right now; I’m prepping for winter, mulching over roses and other plants that could do with a duvet in case we have a cold but snow-free winter like the last one. The lawn has had it’s final cut, all plants are planted – or at least healed in in temporary positions – and my dahlia tubers are visiting my Mum and her frost-free shed over the winter. (She’s pampering them; she just changed their newspaper wrapping this week since it was a bit too damp… I hope she doesn’t spoil them too much so they end up not wanting to come back to my garden and my rather hap-hazard gardening style!)

Does anybody else send plants off to stay with relatives over the winter? Ah, so it’s just me, then… I suspected so.

Anyway, it’s early morning here, so I’d better crack on with the chores. There’s coffee to be drunk, hot buttered rolls to be eaten and – of course – a warm cosy fire to be cuddled up in front of. Gosh, so many things to do!

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Inflatable Canoe

Just moments ago my husband ordered this contraption to be delivered in the store near the summer house and garden. Sure, it’s rather ugly, probably won’t be the fastest craft on the fjord and definitely won’t be as graceful when cleaving the waves as the kayak he bought me for a wedding present.

But… It’s a two-seater, so it means we can go on outings on the fjord together, and that does sound very romantic. After all, we didn’t just buy the summer house for the garden, but also for the surroundings – fjords, forests, meadows…

(Above you see the kayak I got as a wedding present from him; a pure-breed racing kayak, designe to cut through the waves, rather than bounce merrily on top of them.)

Rikke Darling: Follow the Scent of Roses

Yesterday he also bought the above painting for our apartment where we have a huge white wall, just begging for a large painting or similar. I love the paleness of the background combined with the popping colours of the flowers and the very loose “choreography” of the different elements.

Yup, my Flâneur Husband knows how to make me happy!

(Another thing that makes me happy is that I’ve taken Friday off work so I can have a three-day weekend in the garden… Who knows; maybe I’ll get the lawn mowed this weekend?)

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