The new year has always given me a fresh new outlook. I suspect that it is not so much the turning of a page on the calendar, or remembering to change the last two digits of the year when writing checks, but more the simple biological fact that the hours of daylight are increasing and a sense that new life is just around the corner.
December was a very dark and rain-filled month where I live. Even though clear skies bring much colder temperatures this time of year, I am energized by the sunshine we have experienced the past few days. Sunny days encourage me to open the curtains, and open curtains mean a great view of my garden.
Brisk, cold mornings often bring frost, and frost gives the winter garden a special charm. The conifers all take on a new look with sparkling new colors when they are covered with frost early on a sunny morning. Even the last crumbling brown remnants of my wife’s perennials look good when covered in the multi-faceted crystals of a good, hard frost. Fortunately though, most of my garden is filled with the vast assortment of shapes, sizes, colors and textures of my conifer collection.
From the tall dark green of my Picea orientalis ‘Aureospicata’ and bright blue of my Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’ to the weeping forms of Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’, Tsuga canadensis ‘Kelsey’s Weeping’, and Picea omorika ‘Pendula Bruns’ and all of my various and assorted dwarf and miniature conifers, they all have an exciting new look in the bright early morning sun.
As I take a brisk walk through the garden, the ground makes that familiar crunch as my footsteps break through the frozen heaves of gravel in my path. I see birds busily searching for seeds and even the squirrels are out to harvest some of the goodies they had hidden away earlier in the year. The sun, very low in the sky, in an unsuccessful attempt to warm the morning air, creates a wonderful golden hue to the garden while the shadow patterns move silently across the landscape.
I think about the smell of the soil and realize that it won’t be long before I am able to bury my hands in its goodness as I begin a new year of gardening. But for today, I think I’ll just enjoy the garden, in all its winter-time beauty, from the comfort of my favorite chair near the woodstove with a fresh cup of tea.