Both girls will be back at school tomorrow, and we will be able to start making plans for the next couple of weeks. We’ve been in isolation since the 18th , but the spanner has been removed from the works and thing are starting to move again! Well, they never really stopped moving.
Our Christmas tree is up, and this year the girls were actively involved in decorating it. The tree has strangely soft needles, is gorgeously full, and the perfect pine-green. It is also possibly the fattest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen. Almost square, in fact. We tend to acquire Christmas trees by questionable means, and so have also acquired a reputation for ‘character’ Christmas trees: we’ve never had a textbook, catalogue tree with the traditional requirements of symmetry and shape. I was hoping that a supermarket tree would change this, but no, even though I was assured by himself that the tree was exactly the same as the others in the row, once we’d cut it out of its trusses, it certainly was a tree all of its own. So the girls and I decorated it while daddy loitered outside, watching through the window – I wonder how they will remember the past two years? They’ve taken the separations and isolations in their stride, but it’s not something I want them to get used to.
We’ve also been busy in the garden – I’m still riding the learning curve, but every year we start earlier and reap more rewards. So many things I wanted to do in the garden this year didn’t get done, but when I go out to get potatoes and check on the Brussel sprouts – I’m so sure we’ll be eating home grown for Christmas - I realise that in fact an equal amount DID get done. In these past two weeks we’ve gathered seaweed to cover the raised beds; we’ve planted part of a native hedge; I’ve started a new bed for roses and planted two large tubs full of bulbs. We’ve done some proper tidying up for winter and I’ve hacked away – I mean pruned – most of the larger shrubs. There’s so much hope in the garden, it never feels like a disaster or a waste of time, even when things fail to grow or get eaten by slugs or killed by frost or the cows get in and break up all the grass and eat your apple trees. Just one perfectly formed, brilliant green sprout spotted between leaves glistening with fresh rain drops and smelling like earth, and you forget all of that.
What are the plans for next year, then? Well, I’m not going to sow any flower seeds – it took up so much time and space this year, and was so messy to have inside, and yielded so few actual plants, that I’m going to buy any flowers we decide to plant in pots from the local nursery. I will be growing our veg from seed again though, and I’m going to do the carrots properly and not just fling them in the ground, late, in one desperate sowing. A bean cathedral is on the list again as well, and I have a feeling that 2022 is going to be my year. In he weeks that remain of 2021, my gardening goal is to get a decent picture of my lovely hellebores, which are flowering at the same time, for the first time. If you’ve got any garden photography tips, let me know!