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Jack Frost nipping at your nose


by James Alexander-Sinclair

Happy Christmas - I hope that you are all rosy of cheek, tousled of appearance and brimming with goodwill to all men, women, children and close relations.


Frost beech columnsHappy Christmas - I hope that you are all rosy of cheek, tousled of appearance and brimming with goodwill to all men, women, children and close relations.

The chances that this Christmas will have snow is anybody's guess but we might get slightly higher odds on getting a hard frost which, I think, is even more beautiful. Snow blankets and muffles the features in the garden turning all a soft virgin white - even rubbish heaps and messy areas are suddenly transformed into something clean and perfect. The frost, however, tends to accentuate every line; the branches of trees and shrubs are sprinkled with shards of ice that glint like tiny blades; things you never noticed before suddenly stand out.

Wandering through the garden as the sun rises on a frosty day is one of the greatest pleasures. The winter is when evergreens come into their own and the frost just makes yews look even better. Hedges seem to be draped with diamonds and the shiny leaves of box glisten. There is not a great deal of colour, so rose hips come as a welcome lift.

Some plants have naturally perfect skeletons - grasses like Calmagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', herbaceous plants like Echinacea purpurea and shrubs like Ceratostigma willmottianum. Others are more unexpected like the tawny leaves of beech with ruffles of ice, or the stems of roses which suddenly grow three times as many thorns.

There are all sorts of winter treasures to find out there in the frost - not just in your gardens but in parks, hedgerows, woodlands and even supermarket car parks. There is also that wonderful tingling cold that gets your nose and fingertips and the enormous simple pleasure of returning to a warm house to thaw out.

"I'm dreaming of a frosty Christmas, with every Gardeners' World blog I write...". It doesn't scan, the idea is a bit clumsy but I hope you get my drift. Have a wonderful day.



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Gardeners' World Web User 27/12/2007 at 20:43

Thank you for all your beautiful descriptions this past year, James, please continue in 2008. A very happy New Year to you.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/12/2007 at 10:40

saw you at the Princes Theatre in Clacton on Sea recently, really enjoyed the show, it was so different and amusing, thanks

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:30

I love to see a spider's web hung with frosted droplets - like a delicate diamond necklet.