The season, not the blogger. Although you can be sure the blogger is never far behind.

Winter has arrived. Bad enough in any event but before the end of November? Surely that’s not playing fair.



One morning last week we awoke to a world covered in white.



Hail. Which took a long time to melt.



And then this week it’s been frost.


Even a Master Of Denial (that’ll be me then) can ignore it no longer. The clear blue skies do make a change from the rain. I suppose. They say that if the soil clings to your wellies you really shouldn’t be walking on it. Well, I’ve been doing that for over a month now. But when the clay turns to a consistency somewhere between bread dough and butter left out of the fridge it really is pretty pointless. My feet sink six inches with every step. Weeds emerge from the ground with an audible ploop, their roots encased in a thick clod of muck that is never coming off.



The ‘other’ Acer Osakazuki.

Not the one I normally photograph. This is its ugly sister. Sadly decapitated by a frost a couple of years back and then withered to half its previous size the following year, I am trying to nurse it back to health. The least I can do really as it’s probably my fault for planting it in too exposed a position. And then adding insult to injury by letting it become overrun by the brambles. Now it has a proud new shoot, turning the vivid red so beloved of the variety. Maybe there is hope after all.



Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent’, caught in a ray of early morning sunlight it appears illuminated from within.



Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’




Meconopsis cambrica. The Welsh poppy.



Alchemilla mollis



The woodland edge, end of last month.



The woodland edge today, standing at the back of the previously cleared space.

Bramble wrestling is extending deeper into the wood. A little more progress this month, before the wet weather set in.



Running through this part of the woodland, the 84 steps.

I noticed last year how well snowdrops grow on the bank alongside the steps. Unmunched. Unlike the expensive ‘specials’ cosseted in the more formal borders of the garden. So a bit of subterfuge is called for here too. As the wild snowdrops were dying back I excavated some of the more isolated clumps in among the tree roots and replaced them with the specials. Four varieties in all. Their newly elevated position should be of benefit too. Sharper drainage. And allowing for closer inspection as we pass up and down the steps. So far so good.. no sign of disturbance. Provided the squirrels refrain from making off with the labels all should be well.



On the other side of the snowdrop bank, there’s been progress on the relocated rhododendron bed.

This area, like the woodland, was a tangled mass of brambles and Enchanter’s Nightshade just a few weeks ago. It won’t be all rhododendrons though. No, that would be too much. Other shrubs have found their way in here: camellias, hydrangeas and witch hazels to name but a few. I hope, in due course, they will flourish and make this area pretty much able to look after itself. Grasses are already providing light relief and a bit of movement. At the far end a newly planted drift of Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ should give good contrast. Miscanthus and robust perennials such as Monarda will jostle for position in here too.



Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Robert’, covered in flower buds

Should be a picture come January.


And so the seasonal clock has turned another quarter. Maybe, just maybe, the winter sun will shine favourably upon me this year and the garden fork reappear from the shed some time before April. That would be nice. For the time being I shall just have to be content with spilling upholsterer’s horsehair liberally over the dining room floor. And clogging up the Dyson. Toodle pip.




Linking to Steve for the End of Month View (here) and to Sarah’s Through The Garden Gate (here).

What will the start of winter be looking like for them?


2017-11-30T12:46:54+00:00November 30th, 2017|Tags: |


  1. pollymacleod November 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I can often be seen working on my allotment with mud sticking to my boots!! I’m in Australia at the moment so I haven’t even thought about frost or hail, I’m dreading the weather when I return next week. Beautiful photos.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      Good news.. the weather is supposed to be getting milder next week. A bit. I’m very envious of you being in Australia though. Hope you’re having a wonderful time.

      • pollymacleod December 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm - Reply

        Thank you Jessica, I’ve had a great time, home tomorrow 🙁

        • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 9:59 pm - Reply

          Welcome home. And what do you know, it got colder again. I hope you’ve turned the heating up!

  2. Backlane Notebook November 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Love the frosted Alchemilla and Ajuga and the beautifully lit Molinia. They would do me for Christmas decorations if they could be captured just like that.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t believe my luck with the Molinia. A minute later the effect was gone.

  3. Peter/Outlaw November 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    You’ve captured Jack Frost’s artistry beautifully! Okay, that was nice. I’m ready for spring now.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      You and me both.

  4. susurrus November 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    It all looks wonderful. I’ll be surprised if I see a better nature picture all day than your glorious shot of ajuga.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      I’m glad that one came out. I was kneeling on the frozen ground with one hand resting on the frozen earth and the camera viewfinder steaming up!

  5. justjilluk November 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Always amazes me as to how much you DO achieve. x

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill. Baby steps. A little bit each day. It’s amazing how the little bits really add up.

  6. smallsunnygarden November 30, 2017 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I do hope your maple pulls through – what a gorgeous blast of red for November! Is it normal for it to still have leaves now?
    And I’m definitely admiring your introduction of order into the primeval chaos of the woodland edge! BTW, our 2 m tall tumbleweed grove has gone, but it took professional assistance and an enormous roll-off crate from our friendly trash service… Oh well… I must get something nice planted in that area!
    Looking forward to seeing your upholstery adventures!

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      The new shoot on the acer only appeared this summer so presumably its lifecycle was extended a bit. All the other leaves on the tree have fallen. Looks a bit weird!
      Good news on the tumbleweed. Sometimes it pays to get in a bit of help for the really big jobs. We probably wouldn’t have got the rhododendrons dug up and hauled up the hill without some bought in muscle power.

  7. Linda from Each Little World November 30, 2017 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Nothing worse than hail but it sure makes lovely photos. We rarely get the kind of frost that is making your plants look so beautiful. And who would have expected a wintry image of Ajuga would be a show-stopper! The areas where you’ve been working are really showing progress.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Although I didn’t get a chance to finish the job I’m really pleased that so much ground got cleared. All ready for planting up in the Spring.

  8. bumbleandme November 30, 2017 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, as always Jessica. X

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply


  9. wherethejourneytakesme November 30, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    We have a battle on our hands with our woodland – it does not take much for plants to move in and then take over. I will have to do an Ivy sweep this winter and cut it back from climbing up the trees. I have learnt that when you clear a space you have to fill it quickly and then maintain for a while so the things you don’t want give up and look elsewhere! Gorgeous photos though – I love that frosted look.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Planting up a new space quickly is absolutely key. Unfortunately with the price of mature plants these days it’s not always possible. I got heavily into propagating this year but obviously it takes a while for the plants to get big enough to do any useful ground covering. Next year will be The Year Of The Hoe.

  10. Brian Skeys November 30, 2017 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    The Molinia looks beautiful in the winter sunshine. I think it is lovely that such ‘ordinary ‘ plants as Ajuga, Alchemilla and Welsh Poppy can look so wonderful in the frosty weather.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed. This year’s early frosts have confirmed what we suspected.. the valley is a frost pocket. Further up the hill there was no frost at all. I was hoping to see the Phlomis with frost on the old flower stems but it was right on the borderline and escaped! Next time maybe.

  11. Sarah November 30, 2017 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    The garden does look beautiful covered in hail and frost. It has certainly turned so much colder here this week and our boots are almost constantly covered in mud. The Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent’ looks beautiful against the sunlight. I hope your replanting of the snowdrops will be a success I always admire the varieties you have collected. Sarah x

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      I hope the snowdrops will be OK. Bit of a risk perhaps but if I can get them established I’m sure they will look good where they are. Thanks Sarah.

  12. jannaschreier November 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos, Jessica!

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks Janna!

  13. bittster November 30, 2017 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Beautiful. Love the frost and perfect light.
    You wouldn’t guess it’s a quagmire from the photos, but mud is sneaky like that. Hope you get a chance to get out there, and you have me excited to see the specials in their new location!

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      My theory is that if the wild snowdrops are thriving so well in that spot then surely the specials will too. It would be great if they found themselves in a happy place and started to multiply. They’ve been very slow in that department up to now.

  14. Freda November 30, 2017 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Perhaps I am learning to like winter since the skies have beem bluer lately than they have most of the summer and autumn! Fabulous photographs Jessica.

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      We have had some lovely crisp sunny days this week. And next week is supposed to be dry. Ish. Hopefully the combination of the two will work some magic on the soil and I can get some work done!

  15. grammapenny November 30, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Toodle pip indeed.. the indoor days are here. We won’t garden here in Massachusetts until April.. lots of plans as usual though. I moved a lot of things around this fall and hope the moles, voles, deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs will leave them alone! I look forward to seeing your snowdrops in bloom.. Merry Christmas!

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      You have as many critters to contend with as I do.. if not more! But you also have a ‘proper’ winter. Lots of snow to reflect the light and sunshine between the showers. It’s the constant grey rainy stuff that makes me hate winter so much.

  16. Kris Peterson December 1, 2017 at 1:32 am - Reply

    The weather certainly does seem to be marked by unusual extremes all over – while you’re bemoaning the early arrival of winter there, I was complaining about summer’s untimely return here when our temperatures exceeded 90F (32C) over our Thanksgiving holiday. It’s impossible to know when it’s safe to plant anymore! I can entirely understand your persistence in gardening in the muck – sometimes you must just go ahead and get on with things because waiting for the “right time” is tantamount of giving up altogether. At least your frost provides pretty pictures!

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      I was so behind with everything this year and was desperately trying to get the last of the planting done before the soil got too cold. I didn’t quite manage it so I’ll be nursing a few pots over winter. But not too many.

  17. germac4 December 1, 2017 at 6:46 am - Reply

    Your frosty photos look so appealing I have to remind myself that cold and wet go with frost! The garden is looking still looking good, not too much bare foliage…time for plan for spring…

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      We are back to the grey stuff next week but at least that means it will be warmer. Swings and roundabouts. Now is the time foliage comes into its own. There are very few flowers left.

  18. Jacqueline December 1, 2017 at 9:36 am - Reply

    What beautiful photographs Jessica …. your garden is stunning whatever time of year it is. I’ve cut a few things down but I shan’t do much until the New Year. Your header photograph is lovely. XXXX

    • Jessica December 1, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      I cut down as little as possible. Only when they get really tatty. When the wind comes through the valley though that does include most of the taller grasses. I haven’t grown the sturdier ones like miscanthus before so it will be interesting to see how well they hold up.

  19. Linda aka Crafty Gardener December 1, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    You have the start of winter, as do my relatives that live in Norfolk. Here in my part of Canada we’ve had winter knock a few times but it hasn’t stuck around yet. Your photos are gorgeous.

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      The east of the country have had it even worse than us here in the west. At least we haven’t had any snow.. yet!

    • Torrington Tina December 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Hopefully your Miscanthus will look good until February which is when mine gets cut down, just before the new shoots start to appear.

      • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:28 pm - Reply

        They’re still standing so far but the plants are quite new and don’t look too robust just yet. I’m hoping they will clump up and do the bit for me next year!

  20. wherefivevalleysmeet December 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    I have a dreadful feeling that this winter might be one to remember for the cold – hope that I am wrong. I have seen photos from Derbyshire covered in snowy hail and now yours, but for the time being it has missed us out – I am keeping my fingers crossed. However, there is no denying that winter frosts make for some delightful photos.

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      I know other parts of Northern Europe are expecting a hard winter. It doesn’t bode well does it.

  21. Susan Garrett December 1, 2017 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    The woodland edge is beautiful. Strangely you seem to have more wintry weather than up here in West Yorkshire.

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      It took us by surprise as well. The hail definitely wasn’t in the forecast. Sheer luck that I had the cold frames closed.

  22. Island Threads December 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    hahaha I wish I’d only had a month of rain and mud, my garden shoes/boots are muddy everytime I go in the gardem, we had a few weeks back in early summer when I was treated to a mud free few weeks but that’s all, we have had snow, sleet and hail too and we have had frost, that’s unusual on the island especially in November,

    it is looking good Jessica, I do love your big ferns, re remebering where your special snowdrops are, what I have been doing for years now is not to leave the label in the ground, got so fed up with them disappearing or fading, I have
    each area of my garden on file with the plant lables and if I think I will forgot where or which a plant is I make a note of where it is, sometimes I mark something with a stone, I have found it has been worth that bit of extra time/effort as now I can locate what is where, another idea, one I like but as yet have not used, Bunny Guinness said for her veg she paints the name on an up-side-down wine bottle, empty of course, and then pushes it into the soil at the end of the row, I can’t help thinking the occasional wine bottle label in the wood would look good, though you and Mike may think not,

    I love the photo of the other acer, quite beautiful, Frances

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      This year I have been trying to keep records too, on a computer database. I am getting better at it, but there is still a huge heap of plant labels on my desk awaiting entry! Love the idea of the wine bottle labels. Not a resource I am likely to run short of either.

      • Island Threads December 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

        Jessica, I didn’t say I list the plants immediately 😉
        database, you are way ahead of me, I have word lists on the computer and folders which I keep some photos of the area in, the idea was to copy all garden photos to the right folder, that is never going to happen but sometimes I take a photo for reference, like where bulbs are including just enough around where they are so I can recognise it months later when I am struggling to remember ‘did I plant bulbs there? Frances

        • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:09 pm - Reply

          Taking photos is a good idea. I was doing some of the labels today and came across a penstemon which I know I planted but can’t for the life of me remember where.

  23. hb December 3, 2017 at 2:54 am - Reply

    Frost is damaging but oh it makes for beautiful photos. Easy for no-frost-here me to say, I know–sorry! Besides the frosty shots, the stump and the glowing Molinia made a beautiful scene.

    Hope it dries out for you for a few weeks, so you can get back out there safely. Your mud, my ladder…

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      The Molinia is a star in that spot. In the summer it stands out perfectly against the dark background of the woodland behind it, especially after a shower of rain.

  24. Cathy December 4, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Ahah, you have a cunning plan for your snowdrops…! 😀

    • Jessica December 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      Welcome to Baldrick’s garden. I need a cunning plan for everything. 🙁

  25. Brenda December 4, 2017 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    I know you don’t welcome the deep chill, but it made for marvelous photographs! Every time you write about “The 84 Steps,” it strikes me as a perfect name for a movie. Think of the possibilities.

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Mike has a new phone. It tells him how many steps he has taken each day and, bizarrely, how many floors he has climbed. Before lunch he’d apparently climbed seven stories. And all he did was go out and get the post!

  26. Torrington Tina December 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    We missed the hail as we were away, and the frost was nowhere near as photogenic up here, I think we missed a lot of that, too. I love the Ajuga and Acer. If you need something a bit more rumbustious of the former, do you have ‘Catlin’s Giant’. I am trying to grow A. ‘Burgundy Glow’, the leaves on mine are more green tinged cream with a dash of burgundy right now, but the slugs have taken a liking to them!

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      I have tons of Burgundy Glow if you need it, it’s run wild in spite of the slugs. It’s quite a deep colour, in places the leaves are almost black. Perhaps that’s why the slugs don’t like it.

  27. CherryPie December 6, 2017 at 1:03 am - Reply

    Frosty landscape is looking pretty 🙂

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      It didn’t last long, but long enough for a taste of what is presumably to come.

  28. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) December 6, 2017 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    You make frost look so beautiful. Our first snow wasn’t much and it melted. Next week it should be here for real. Last year we had about 3 meters of it all together.

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Alana. 3 metres is a lot of snow! It’s quite rare to see snow in south west England now. We did have a dusting one day this week but it turned to rain at first light. The colder weather is early this year though. I hope it doesn’t stick around.

  29. Isadora Guidoni December 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, I just love your photos. You make simple things look much more beautiful. Thanks for the update!

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Isadora, thanks and welcome!

  30. Linda P December 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I hope the weather is being kind your way although the outdoors does look pretty with a covering of frost. The quality of light on the grasses and acers is magical. Today we had another sprinkling of snow and the hills are icy around here. We’re all wondering about the possibility of a hard winter. Mr. P and I are looking forward to our usual Italian trip in the new year. Wishing you well and sending best wishes for the Christmas season.

    • Jessica December 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      The possibility of a hard winter is bothering me too. The last few years have been so mild down here, it’s a shock to be seeing all this white stuff! Italy sounds wonderful. Have a good trip and best wishes to you both.

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