Jack Frost

Frosty Papaver orientale

Jack Frost was in the garden

I saw him there at dawn

A’ dancing round the bushes

And prancing on the lawn.

He wore a cloak of silver,

A hat all shimmering white,

A wand of glittering star-dust,

And shoes of moonbeam light.


He shook his silver dust

Upon the tallest trees

He painted pretty pictures

On every pane you see.

He turned the grass and bushes

From green to sparkling white

And all the garden’s puddles

From mud to fairy ice.


Based upon the poem by John P. Smeeton

Winter Solstice

And so the tipping point of the winter has arrived.

Even though, once more, we are coping with horrendous floods over most of the country and the talk is of the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, the Sun rose in a clear sky this morning. The birds greeted the dawn with one of the loudest choruses I have heard in a long time and I am filled with the feeling of hope and the promise of things to come.

Sunrising on the Holly and Oak
Sunrising on the Holly and Oak

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the beginning of Winter, not much to celebrate there you might think, well think again. The coldest weather may still be to come but from today until the Summer Solstice on June 21st the days will lengthen and the sun will rise higher in the sky*.

The Oak King
The Oak King

I love the traditions and lore surrounding the Winter Solstice, the battle between the Oak and Holly Kings, with the Oak King winning to rule for the next six months. The Oak King represents a time of renewal and rebirth and growth. The Holly King, by contrast, represents a time of rest, contemplation and learning. Interestingly the Holly King is often described as a having white hair, a white beard, robes of red or green and driving a sledge pulled by stags (sound like anybody you know).

Arum italicum
Arum italicum

No matter what traditions you keep or if the solstice passes you by, the inescapable fact is that the the garden knows that Spring is on its way. The Arums have come to say hello,  the cleavers and cow parsley are now on standby. So whether you wassail or no, the garden may just be starting without you.

Cleavers and Cow parsley
Cleavers and Cow parsley

*For me the height of the sun is hugely important as my garden is at the base of a hill which casts a long shadow in the depths of winter.

Sun rising beneath the Oak
Sun rising beneath the Oak

So Happy Solstice here’s to Spring and the Promise of Things to Come .