Into the New Year

As I write it is still the last day of the year and we had some lovely warm sunshine today: 13°C!

So to ring out the old year here are a few pictures of my leisurely wander around the garden with Anouk this morning.

The blue sky and sunshine was a real treat…

This is the corner Anouk likes to inspect first every morning, as the hares come through the fence there…

Still a few rose hips left in the hedge…

And some morning mist across the meadow beyond our fence…

Anouk, checking for mice…

The buzzards often sit on the perches first thing to warm their wings in the sun… we put up several of these to encourage the birds of prey to help keep the mice population down.

The hellebores are in bud!

 

Can she smell Spring? (No, probably deer or hares!)

Wishing you all the very best for the new gardening year. Health, happiness and lots of flowers!

Happy New Year!

 

Winter Solstice in Bavaria, Krampus et al

About 250km to the south of us lie the Alps, already covered in a good thick layer of snow at this time of year. The mountains have always been fascinating to me, and seeing them awakens that same childish pleasure as when I catch the first glimpse of the sea on the way to the seaside.

Summer near Berchtesgaden

And the traditions find it fascinating too.

Before the age of digital photos I would occasionally drive there, either for some sightseeing of the beautiful lakes and mountain passes, or for a day of skiing.

Life in the villages and remote farms in mountainous regions used to be very hard in winter (and still can be), and many superstitions arose, particularly regarding this time of year. Some of these are rather sinister, with evil spirits and fearsome creatures playing a role. One of these is Krampus, often depicted as a hairy horned man-like figure, who frightened children into being well-behaved. This is one of the least frightening photos I could find. If you search ‘Krampus’ online you will see even scarier images!

Photo from National Geographic

Similarly, in Bavaria ‘Knecht Ruprecht’ was an evil man dressed completely in black, who supposedly ate naughty children. Here he is depicted as part animal, resembling the devil…

While, on December 6th, the good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas (the original Santa!), naughty children were tortured; I remember a student of mine (an adult at the time) telling us how he was still filled with dread on December 6th when he recalled how he was collected by Krampus/ Knecht Ruprecht every year and put in a sack, convinced he was going to die!!

Another myth involves evil who people make a pact with the devil during these dark days and turn into weirwolves, threatening humans and animals alike. It was common to burn incense in the stables and barns over Christmas, to ban evil spirits. One of the superstitions I have heard is that the animals in the barns are suddenly able to speak, and foretell the future. Should, however, anybody hear them, he or she is destined to immediate death. (Not sure how that one can be explained!) Another story is that on New Year’s Eve the animals can air their complaints to the ‘house spirit’ about the farmer if they have been mistreated, and he will then be punished. (I like that one!)

All of these myths and many more have become tradition and are remembered, re-enacted or celebrated in December, mainly between Thomas Day (today, December 21st) and Epiphany (January 6th) – the so-called ‘Rauhnächte’ – varying greatly from region to region. The appropriate clothing, masks and paraphernalia are passed down through generations or carefully preserved by communities. I love the fact that so many truly ancient traditions are still alive here today, mostly with pagan origins, being then rearranged around Christian holidays and adapted or extended over the centuries. I am sure, though, that children nowadays are not tormented as much as my student was 50-odd years ago. 😉

And now some nicer images… of my garden on a frosty winter solstice day. 😃

(Click on any image to open a slideshow).

Wishing you a happy Solstice day.

❄️☀️❄️

In a Vase on Monday: Everlasting Light

St. Lucy’s Day

A favourite Christmas carol of mine is ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, and when I picked up some Everlasting flowers today to brighten up the dark Hellebore in my tiny vase, this line popped into my head:

Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the EVERLASTING light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

Well, as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden on one of the darkest days of the year, I will light a few candles and try to imagine what my damp and grey garden will look like in Spring! (There is always HOPE)

🌷🌷🌷

Do pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she has found in her garden to bring indoors. And I do hope your St. Lucy’s Day has been brighter than ours!

A Week of Flowers 2021, Day Seven

The Grand Finale!

Yes, today is the final day of my Week of Flowers and what a week it has been! 😃 This really has kept me busy over the past seven days, and in between packing up Christmas parcels for my family in England and chatting to them on Facetime I have been trying to keep up with the amazing flurry of flowery blogging activity. What fun!

Today I am sharing a mish-mash of favourites, starting with the Larkspur I grew from seed. Such a beautiful colour.

Another gorgeous purply blue is this Geranium, which I think is ‘Orion’. Not only did this flower almost non-stop, the autumn foliage is also really pretty.

All my asters are my favourites, with ‘Mönch’ near the top of the list. And when they faded the Chrysanthemum Anastasia took over and provided colour until the last week of November when we had snow and frost.

The last picture below captures the true blue of Salvia azurea, planted in the Moon Bed. It is a late bloomer, adding a final bit of flair to the garden in September. I think this is the bluest of any plant I have grown yet… no hint of purple at all. It matches the sky. 😃

Salvia azurea

So, once again a big thank you to all who have visited this past week. Many thanks also for all the kind comments, and a special thank you to those of you who took part and shared such a wide range of beautiful, cheerful and uplifting photos of plants and flowers, providing me with plenty of inspiration for the weeks to come. I have met a few new bloggers along the way, and there has been a wonderful hum of conversation about plants all week. I think this has raised not only my own spirits, but hopefully yours too.

😃

Mission accomplished? 😉

🤗💕🤗

(Same time, same place, next year! 😉)

A Week of Flowers 2021, Day Six


It is Day Six of my Week of Flowers and I am soaking up all the colour my blogging friends are sharing! Tomorrow will be the final day of this meme. So if you haven’t joined in yet, please do! Just post a photo of a flower (or two) and leave a link below. 😃

The Moon Bed, August

Today the focus is on shapes. Two seedheads of the Allium ‘Everest’ were still standing in the Moon Bed (above) in August, amongst white Gaura, Cosmos and Nicotiana. The purple Alliums (below) didn’t last as long after flowering, but were perhaps more dramatic and visible while in flower.

Verbena has spread all over the garden now, and I really love the shape and height it adds. I leave it standing until it collapses in the frost or snow.. Then there is the Echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’. It isn’t really blue, but near enough. Love those spiky flower heads. 😉 I tried perennial sweet peas on the obelisks this year, and they did really well, climbing almost to the top of the tallest one. Certainly pretty flowers, but I love the long tendrils and seedpods too. 💕

Thanks to all those who have joined in again today, and to all my other readers too. 🤗

A Week of Flowers 2021, Day Five

Time is flying by and we are on Day Five of my Week of Flowers. Please do join in if you would like to, and post a flowery photo or two (adding your link in the comments below) for the last few days of my now annual meme, intended to brighten up the drab winter days in the northern hemisphere. If you have missed the last four days, the links are in the sidebar. Enjoy!

Geum chiloense ‘Blazing Sunset’

I am in need of some warm colours today, so am sharing deep orange and red.

The Geum ‘Blazing Sunset’ is now in several spots in the garden. I grew a few plants from seed a few years ago and they have proved to be very resilient to whatever extremes of weather we get! One day, if I ever track one down, I would like the famous ‘Tangerine Dream’ Geum, which I first saw on the blog of our dear blogging friend Dorris, who took part in this meme last year. She very sadly passed away suddenly a week later. We never met, but she was a great inspiration to me, and a great gardener. 💕

The sunflower above is most probably Earth Walker and was a beauty. (Next year I will label the sunflowers!) The last photo is a Blanket Flower grown for the first time this summer. Sweet memories.

Wishing you all a warm cosy Advent Sunday and many thanks again for reading and/or joining in. This is doing me the world of good! 😃🤗