26 Dec 2021

Solstice - And the world turns back to the light

The winter solstice can be considered to be a dual edged sword for it brings both the start of gradually lengthening days as well as the true start of three months of winter. Brrr... but not quite yet. And there's unlikely to be any snow over the holiday festivities, let me explain why.


From here on until the spring equinox in March, winter rules the northern hemisphere; shortening days result from the earth’s rotation  tilting the north away from the sun’s warmth and light. 
In Britain we're lapped by seas that hold a vestige of summer’s warmth, slowly cooling during autumn's longer nights but keeping the land slightly warmer for that short time. Gradually, as the days lengthen again after the solstice (five minutes more daylight by the New Year!), temperatures will drop with the worst weather to come in January and February ... which is why we don't plant out anything except the hardiest of veg until March at the earliest. 

On the actual Solstice day, I felt some trepidation at heading into winter - like most, I prefer crisp clear skies to grey murky ones - but there was also a sense of urgency. There’s a lot to do, preferably achieved before the biting cold limits my time in the garden. I want to clear fallen leaves, make a leaf mulch bin, tidy up soggy plants (Eucomis, the pineapple lily growing in my herb garden, does not die gracefully), move plants, prune soft and top fruit and, yes, get the last bulbs in. 

Of course I leave sedum heads for a bit longer, and agapanthus stems as they look so pretty, like stars on the end of a wand. This is very fickle of me as I've cut back agapanthus stems in all the client gardens I work in - which is  the right thing to do … but my garden, my rules (to borrow a phrase from Alison at The BlackBerry Garden).  

In winter gardening doesn't stop. But it might slow down while we plan for next year and dream of warm summer skies, buzzing bees and abundant harvests.


  1. Oh, I just love the days gradually lightening. That's a gorgeous photo!xxx

    1. Glad you like the photo, Dina, thank you! I was supposed to be running but couldn't resist stopping for a snap as the sun rose through the trees ... no filter, just my old iphone! Who needs posh cameras, eh?! :D xx


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