The glory of the winter garden lies not in the glorious glamour of summer colour. It lies in the structure so carefully laid out long ago; this and the small delight when the sun breaks through the grey winter days and the whole world sparkles.
The brave flowers which put their heads above the cold wet earth. The joy of the evergreen winter flowering Clematis cirrhosa, introduced in 1590 from North Africa; the small flowers remind me of a robin’s egg, freckled on the outside, pendulous and creamy white inside. The charming blue winter-flowering Iris unguicularis planted against a warm wall will flower throughout the winter and Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten rose, easy to grow in a sheltered spot. Mother loves the scent of the winter-flowering honeysuckle, even though the shrub is large and untidy; one sprig brought inside scents the whole room. The sun catching the cobwebs woven overnight, how beautiful they are. No wonder the ancients worshipped the Sun God.
On a fine sunny winter day when the air is clear and with the scent of woodsmoke and damp earth, if you climb the hill towards Ashbrittle and look east across the valley, you will glimpse in the distance the tall Scots pine, which hide our home. We often stop, seeking a glimpse of the old house, for when the winter sun is high you can see the river reflected in the light as it tumbles its memories through the garden, much as it has done for hundreds of years.
Mother says that it reminded her that when the last Moorish king was finally expelled from Spain after five hundred years, as he crossed the last great pass he looked back and wept; such was his love for his adopted country. Some say the shadow of sorrow is still felt across the pass.