Winter has never been a favourite season for me or even a mildly welcomed one. It is the bottom of the pile. I have found it too still, too grey and obviously too cold. My preference has always been for spring and autumn. Both seasons of significant change, generally fine weather and less overwhelming than the blowsy bountiful, bright summer.

However I am slowly beginning to appreciate winter more. Despite a loathing of snow and it’s inconveniences I find the way it blanks out all the details liberating. Every thing seems new, fresh to the eye. The skeleton trees come into their own, sinister and dark against the leaden skies. In contrast the bright pristine snow glistens and softens everything into velvety undulations.


Sometimes we have a hoar frost and we enter the mystical and magical world of Narnia. As with the snow there is a silence which conversely can be deafening. No birds sing or flit through branches, nothing stirs. I particularly enjoy the melting of the ice and snow when a soft chime of dripping water rings out and there is anticipation that winter will soon pass and life in the garden will start afresh.


So far this year we have been spared the ‘joys’ of snow and ice; a welcome respite from my perspective. It has been relatively mild although almost overwhelming wet. The Malvern Hills are known for their springs and the crystal clear water they produce. Consequently living on the side of these hills we are at the mercy of the springs and excess of water appearing seemingly wherever. The garden has developed a new sound of water seeping through the ground – it feels very earthy.

Although there hasn’t been a whiting out of the details as in recent years I am still finding winter an interesting season. The slowness of the season means that there is time to think and consider, to reflect, to plan. The perennials are no longer dominant, their showy flowers have disappeared and even the seed heads have gone having been flattened by the wind and rain. The garden is now waiting. The borders have been weeded and mulched, shrubs pruned. The mild winter has allowed the luxury of reviewing borders, removing and rejigging planting and creating new empty spaces waiting for inspiration to strike.


Winter is no longer a period of inertia and frustration. I am appreciating it as a breathing space, a time for me to rest, clear my over horticulturally obsessed mind and to refocus. It’s a time for the garden to show me what it needs in the coming year. Come spring we will be ready.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    I always see winter as breathing space! A time for planning and dreaming….. I’m in the busy part of the year; harvesting produce and processing it all. I love it but then I love winter dreaming too 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sarah
      I am really appreciating the dreaming space at the moment – but am having to make notes of all the great ideas I have as I will never remember them all, or for that matter put them into action!

    2. Sarah says:

      Dreaming and making notes…..some of my favourite things 🙂

  2. Sam says:

    I try to enjoy winter as much as the other seasons, Although there is still plenty to do in the garden there is no rush to get on with it all. The growth of everthing has slowed almost to a standstill and at the moment there a just a few signs of life re-emerging

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sam
      I dont want to be one of those fair weather gardeners that puts the garden to bed for the winter so I try to have small easy projects lined up to get me outside on dry days

  3. This winter has been great so far hasn’t it. I fear I’ll put a jinx on it if I say that once too often!
    I’m learning to appreciate winter more and get a terribly exciting feeling as new live appears from beneath.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Angie
      I tend to do a lot of peering at this time of the year, trying to see if bulbs are emerging, buds forming. Normally end up deciding I need my eye testing!

  4. Donna says:

    “velvety undulations”
    I loved this particular turn of phrase – brilliant post Helen!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Donna
      I’m glad you like it I was trying to write more descriptively

  5. Chris says:

    Beautiful and thoughtful Helen. The seasons are so much part of our being. Here in SE Qld Spring and Summer are not my favourite times, but if they didn’t arrive I wouldn’t have the joy of hearing the first raucous squawks of the Channel-billed Cuckoos as they migrate from the north. They always lift my spirits.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Chris
      I find the more I garden the more conscious I am of the changing seasons

  6. Chloris says:

    It has been easier to enjoy winter this year with no snow around, we have been able to go out each day and watch everything unfurling. The plants that bloom in winter are my favourites; they are so often fragrant and they have such a delicate and subtle beauty.

  7. Pauline says:

    Winter has its own very special moments, each flower that appears is appreciated because there are so few of them. I love the fact that we have four very different seasons in this country, each one to look forward to for different reasons.

  8. Anywhere would look beautiful with a dusting of snow although lets hope this mild weather continues for the rest of the season *fingers crossed*

  9. Cathy says:

    Missed this post earlier, Helen – thanks for sharing your thoughts. Made me think too….

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