Mosty Frorning

I mean … oh, never mind … you know what I mean.
After a warm, wet winter here in Southern England, last week we were finally hit by some hard and decent frosts.  I like frost.  I like how it punctuates the year and zaps all that can’t survive freezing temperatures.  I like the scrunchiness beneath my feet.  Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch;  I stride about the Priory gardens wrapped in layer upon layer of warm, thick clothes.  Like Michelin-man.  Sadly, I often forget about my feet and my thin cotton socks aid the transfer of warmth to the icy ground very efficiently indeed.

The reed mace has spread from the eastern side of the gardens and has now begun to colonise the west pond.  I don’t suppose it should have such a prominent place in a posh garden but I rather like it.  I like its shaggy, unkemptness.  And the moorhens love it; fleeing to it for cover whenever I approach.  It hasn’t been flattened by snow yet either which adds to its appeal.

I planted this grouping of three Betula jacquemontii ‘Snow Queen’  in early 2009 and they’re doing  pretty well.  Once a year, in winter, I fetch a bucket of warm water* and a cloth and wipe down the stems to show off their striking white stems.  I did have to explain to a recent visitor that no, I didn’t wash down the trunks of all the trees in the garden.

A coating of ice crystals helps the birches to sparkle.

All the fields about the Priory are sugar-frosted; crisp and crackling under a clear blue sky.

But the sun will soon be up to melt the magic.

Recently, I was writing foolishly of photinia buds trembling with the excitement of imminent Spring.  Waiting for the off.  Now encrusted with ice, they aren’t going anywhere.

In the ditch between the two ponds, these frozen (insert name of plant here – as I haven’t got a clue) are ethereal and strangely beautiful.

They remind me of the forest in an animated Czech children’s film from the early 70’s.  About a mole.  Or a lonely, sad office block.  Or both.

The cold snap serves as a reminder (were one needed) that the garden’s birds still need feeding – though I do feed them all year round.

But you’d think that having fed them, the least these blue tits …

… could do is hang around to have their picture taken.

But oh, no – they couldn’t possibly do that.

Far too busy.  Ingrates.

Still, sometimes they come back …

… and strike a pose.  Show off ingrates.

* the water is warm for my benefit – not the trees’.

28 thoughts on “Mosty Frorning

  1. Such beautiful photographs Dave, and I am so envious of you having had that crunchy walk – still no crunchiness here, just mild wet greyness, which isn’t nearly as photogenic. Or satisfying underfoot. I love the idea of you washing the trunks of all the trees at the Priory! And the reed mace looks wonderful, all frosted up like that. The moorhens – and you – have excellent taste.


  2. The pictures of the blue tits in flight are great captures! How pretty!
    I had to laugh at the description of visitors watching you washing down the trees and wondering what was going on. I’ve never thought of washing trees to make them sparkle! It certainly works, though, the trees are beautiful! Sadly, the only birches that grow really well here are river birches, and their bark is not nearly as white.


  3. Oh how you have cheered my dark and dingy too much work day! I loved the blue tits – my Mum and Dad have a blue tit nesting box in their garden and because they are so quick to get out when grown, they once spent 5 hours (they are clearly a bit potty) sat in the garden covered in green towels as a disguise as they wanted to see the young leave the box. All babies left successfully apart from one laggard and the mum had to fly back and forth 8 times to the tree to show it how to do it. She was well cross by the end. All worked out fine though. Mum and Dad have stopped wearing towels (for now..)



    • Miss Tracy Evans, thank you so much for cheering me up on a dark and dingy non-work day. The picture of E and T wrapped up in green towels, whilst huddled up in the garden and exhorting blue tit mums to do their duty, will live me for a long while. Bless. Do tell me you have photographic evidence. Though I suppose they were so well camouflaged that taking photo’s was a little pointless?

      See that mountain over there? Last one up is a rotten egg. And it ain’t me!



  4. I lost your blog for a few days, David and then I remembered you’d moved. Very beautiful looking new blog. stunning photos especially the ones of the blue tit.
    Should I be wiping down my Betulas…when everything else around them is a bit messy… I wouldn’t have thought of it myself but both you and Mr K are doing it. Very commendable..


  5. Hi David, welcome to wordpress! I like your new blog.
    Good pictures! I’ve been having hoar frosts for a while now, now I’m fed up and I want some Spring though…
    The beautiful pictures of the Czech mini forest reminded me of sagittaria of some kind…


  6. I also enjoy frost, as long as it isn’t destroying my plants. Frost is best seen at your neighbors house and not your own. I want to a little closer to the sea, where the frosts are light and the banana trees grow tall year round.


    • Hi Nat, yeah friends of mine along the coast in Brighton have large unprotected bananas in their garden. The Priory though sits in a deep frost pocket – as I’ve learnt to my cost. Choisya, ceanothus, olive – are just some of the things that should survive but didn’t.



  7. If all winter mornings looked like that, I might learn to like winter. (Actually, it looks like an autumn morning in Vermont, and those I liked just fine.) The photinia is gorgeous.

    Wool socks and thinsulate-lined boots. I’d save the tin foil for a helmet…


    • Whenever you mention Vermont, Stacy, I just want to start singing “Snow, snow, snow” (or “Sisters”). Another place to add to my American wishlist – but it’ll have to wait for roadtrip #2. I do need to buy some new boots though I’ll pass on your, frankly, ridiculous tin foil helmet idea!



  8. Hi – I’ve found you – all pristine and white – can’t understand why you moved but hope you are getting the hang of WP. Love your tits it is so hard to photograph birds – I’ve tried many times unsuccessfully. I think a long lens and a tripod are the best bet, both of which I haven’t got.


  9. Hi David, New Year and out with the old and in with WP, looks good and your photos are magic!!
    Now how long have you been washing down trees?


  10. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d be the first one to make a mention on the lovely pair of tits 😉 All joking aside though, these photos are INCREDIBLE. I wish I would’ve been able to see some frost while I was over there, it’s unreal how pretty everything looks!


    • Hey Andrea, you’re like a real, proper visitor and everything. Thanks for all your help (though I have to say I’ve been tempted to move back to blogger a couple of times. Think I’ll stay with WP now though).



  11. Great photos and loving the new look to the blog. My feet are the first things to be wrapped up. I have cold feet at the best of times but in wellies in winter I need 3 pairs of socks. Last year following a tip from Chris Beardshaw I even wrapped my feet in tin foil before putting on the wellies. The crunchy noise my feet made as I walked about was interesting. The thing was by the time I got home after several hours on the plot I had little bits of tin foil everywhere as it had disintegrated inside my wellies. I couldn’t be bothered after that.


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