What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. John Steinbeck

There is a kind of sad joy to winter for the gardner. Like a parent, whose children have all left home, she waits for the noise and colour and the heartbeat of the house to return. The ground is bare, naked and raw. Trees stand stripped of their greenery, shrubs become a mass of tangled sticks, a dull palette settles over everything. As if looking through a sheet of brown glass, the world becomes muted, distant. Still.

Yet, there is work to do and joys to be found.

A well-designed garden finds a different kind of beauty in the winter. There can be something marvellous about the bare bones of a garden, its architecture laid out before you, much like the skeleton of a leaf after a still winter. With careful planning it can provide a harbour for birds and insects with hungry bellies and a need for warmth. The ground may seem dormant, but beneath the surface worms and microbes work their magic, preparing the soil for the year ahead.

It is a time for reflection, for planning, for looking forward to the year ahead.