As we gaze out of the window at yet more grey and gloomy weather it’s easy to overlook that the damp clinging mist which overhangs the valley like a cold and soggy blanket can also give rise to some of winter’s most spectacularly beautiful days. When overnight temperatures plummet, all that suspended water vapour is frozen and wherever it has settled surfaces glisten and sparkle like frosted glass.
Hoar frost days are few and far between, but when they do happen and the quality of light is crisp and clear and the air perfectly still, our mundane winter brown gardens are gone. Instead of entering the fabled world of Narnia through the fur coats in the back of the wardrobe, there it is right outside the door.
Beautiful as it is to look at and pleasantly dry and crunchy underfoot, every drop of water is locked away, inaccessible to our gardens’ wildlife so a bowl of water is as welcome to the birds as the seed in the bird feeders. In my garden as the frost melts and the white patches recede under the edge of the tree canopy, jackdaws, blackbirds, robins and rooks peck through piles of leaves and loose turf for any tasty worms, grubs or beetles brought to the surface by the thaw and gold finches decide it’s time to visit the teasel heads I’ve left standing through the borders ready for just such an occasion.
At times like this when it’s so easy to see the direct benefits which our gardens offer to our dwindling biodiversity, I despair at the increasing fashion for plastic turf and artificial green walls. They are most popular in towns and cities where the demand for low maintenance, no mess and no mowing is at the top of the list of most desirable garden attributes and the inhabitants are furthest from nature.
At a time of year when the effects of overindulgence persuade many of us to join a gym or dig out the running shoes, what better time to get outside in the natural environment of the garden.
We know that it’s good for us, mind, body and soul, so good in fact that there have been recommendations for gardening on prescription.
So forget the plastic grass, lets make this the year to get out and active in the garden and enjoy being part of nature, especially when it looks like Narnia.
As featured in the Voice Magazines