Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?
A dusting of snow is certainly the icing on the cake as far as winter gardens are concerned. But snow or no, December gardens can be a well earned antidote to too much Christmas shopping.
A brisk walk through a winter woodland garden gives chance to see the beauty of berries and bark, and the tracery of brightly coloured twigs. Closer to the house, topiary and hedges are sharply defined and perfectly frame flower beds cut low and mulched down for their winter’s rest.
Keep your eyes open too for the very last flowers of summer- especially in sheltered spots where frosts may not yet have blackened their blooms. Likewise, the first flowers of next year may be tricked into opening ultra early. The rich red domes of the earliest Rhododendrons in particular are a welcome sight from this month on....
You can follow your nose to sniff out the real mid-winter treats though- the gloriously high scented witch hazels, winter sweet, winter honeysuckles and the aptly named Viburnum fragrans.
Although major gardens are often closed at this time of year, some of Cumbria’s finest are swinging back their gates for special seasonal openings....
Enjoy the magic and Romance of Holker Hall and Gardens from 7th to the 21st December. ( www.holker.co.uk )
Brantwood too, and the excellent Jumping Jenny Restaurant there, make for a superb winter destination. (Check www.brantwood.org.uk for opening times.)
Muncaster Castle is amazing- particularly after dusk, for the unique ‘Darkest Muncaster’ experience! (see www.muncaster.co.uk )
And last but not least- look round Levens Gardens for free! on 6-7th and 13-14th December... ( www.levenshall.co.uk )