I regret that too often my dull prose does not adequately depict the beauty I see in the garden. I suspect that I am too literal, and certainly not inclined to romantic descriptions. Even as the eye witnesses extraordinary beauty, I am incapable of finding the proper words to express this. (Photos, I hope, minimize this failing.)
In the stillness of the winter garden, there is wonder in the leaf bud of the hornbeam, or in the swelling flower bud of Dorothy Wycoff pieris (below). While this hardly compares to any corner of the garden in mid spring, there is cause for joy in the garden through any day of winter.
Form and structure become primary in the garden devoid of blooms except for remnants of late autumn flowering mahonias, or in a spell of winter warmth, the occasional bloom of a camellia. By mid January, there will be fragrant, ribbon-like flowers of the earliest of the witch hazels (below), and if the winter is not severe, snowdrops, hellebores, and paperbushes will flower not long into February. Now, the gardener must appreciate detail of buds and bark that are overlooked through much of the year.
I have just begun to regularly fill the bird feeder, so squirrels no longer must fend for themselves. The feeder does not deter their frequent visits, so birds get their opportunity only after squirrels have had their fill. My wife objects to feeding squirrels, and how can I disagree, with damage that was done while they sheltered in our attic over several years. She bangs and yells from the kitchen window to shoo them away, which they do for minutes, until they scramble back along branches of a Japanese maple, to the pendulous dogwood, and back to the feeder that hangs on a lower branch of the tree lilac.
I don’t mind the squirrels so much, as long as they stay out of the attic. I don’t believe that attracting them to the feeder will necessarily encourage them back into the attic. I hope not to go through that again, and since they are not easily discouraged from feasting on sunflower seeds, I might as well enjoy their antics.