December – field of vision

It’s too easy to lose sight of the garden at this time of year. It’s freezing cold; we’ve gone indoors; we’re focused on the holidays. But what I realized the other day, when I took a walk through the garden is that this might be the very best time to really see the garden clearly – and not just because of the transparency of defoliation. Red and green might be the iconic colors of December but gardeners and nature lovers see a whole range of hues in our field of vision. December is rendered in quiet earth-tones like verdigris, ochre, charcoal, pewter, Payne’s grey and raw umber as well as about a million different shades of deep green, and gem-like crimsons. Most of December’s colors fill the background at other times of year – barely visible for being easily overlooked, but they are the foreground now. And that inside-out color shift seems to turn all of the other colors on the wheel into precious pigments of our imagination.

I can mentally picture the garden – my own especially – as I’d like it to be in all seasons, much more easily now than when it’s filled with summer and fall colors – but while I can still remember them; and before the garden is beautified by snow’s contrast or full of the distraction of spring’s hopes. And the ideas flow even more freely as I walk around Blithewold where I can plainly see the plants and colors that would make my own December garden more complete. And I have this hunch (call me crazy but I get to see these gardens every day so I know whereof I speak) that a garden that is sublime in December is bound to be beautiful the whole year round. I’ll save specific examples for a later post.

Are you looking at your garden right now? What do you see?