The promise of spring

Catkins Catkins Catkins

Catkins Catkins Catkins

Catkins are already out in the hedgerows.

Hazel and alder, waving gently in the breeze, like fat little fingers.

Just proving that the year marches on as it slips gently into the next, and that spring is just around the corner.

–oo0oo–

This is the end of my blogathon, and I hope you have enjoyed it. I don’t know whether I will continue to post in this blog, but certainly the necessity of not having to regularly find new content is a relief. I hope my readers will continue to enjoy looking back at my past posts as they progressed through the year, to be reminded what was growing or flowering all those months ago. I still value your comments though, so keep ’em coming!

New Year blue berries

Purple Sausage Berries Purple Sausage Berries Purple Sausage Berries

Rose of Sharon berries Rose of Sharon berries Rose of Sharon berries

There are lots of berries still noticeable in the gardens and countryside that catch my eye.

I’ve no idea what the top ones are, but I saw these in the Imperial Gardens in Innsbruck and they look like little blue sausages.

The bottom berries come from the Rose of Sharon, a nice alternative to their vivid yellow flowers.

A flattened hedge

Flattened Hedge Flattened Hedge Flattened Hedge

Flattened Hedge Flattened Hedge Flattened Hedge

In the countryside the hedgerows need to be maintained during the winter months to make sure they continue to be healthy ready for the next summer’s growth.

The old style of coppicing a hedge through slash and bend is a dying art, so we were pleased to come across a hedge that had been pruned in this way.

It looks gruesome, but it is a more efficient method of preparing a hedgerow without the usual horrible machine driving past and slicing unceremoniously at the hedge without any skill or understanding.

Camouflage plane bark

Plane Bark Plane Bark Plane Bark

Plane TreesDuring the morning in Innsbruck, before the Christmas market lights were turned on, we investigated the Imperial Gardens after visiting the Palace.

Here are some fine plane trees leaning over the River Inns and I noticed the colours and shapes in the bark on the trunks.

They were reminiscent of how army fatigues provide camouflage which I found fascinating.

Evergreen ivy

Ivy Leaf Ivy Leaf Ivy Leaf

Ivy Leaf Ivy Leaf Ivy Leaf

With a dearth of greenery at this time of year, any evergreen leaves are very welcome.

Ivy provides a glossy green display in a variety of shapes and even colours.

Best place to notice ivy is when it climbs trees in a wood, which is where I saw these.

Snowflakes in the border

Viburnum Viburnum Viburnum

ViburnumIf there’s no snow this winter (well, not yet anyway) there’s still plenty of alternatives.

This viburnum spotted in a neighbour’s garden provided an appropriate splash of white.

Lovely scented florets brightening up our gardens with a hint of spring.

Hippy Christmas

Rose Hips Rose Hips Rose Hips

Walking around the countryside in late December any splash of colour is very noticeable.

Since we had such a good show of dog roses this year, they’ve left plenty of hips to remind us.

These sort of decorations beat any fancy tinsel or baubles any day, ’tis a pity we don’t garland our houses with greenery any more.

Austrian opulence

Xmas Decorations Xmas Decorations Xmas Decorations

The hotel we stayed in in Innsbruck took great care over its Christmas decorations.

Beautiful wreaths and table displays to please the customers – the Austrians certainly know how to celebrate the seasonal holidays.

This is certainly better than a bit of tinsel on the mantlepiece and some holly stuck over the front door.

The making of sloe gin

Sloe Sloe Sloes

Bagged Sloes  Sloe Gin

In October we went to a special place where we knew big fat healthy sloes were growing.

We carefully gathered just enough to bag up and put into our freezer, to be later fermented for 12 weeks in large bottles with sugar and gin.

And the result is fabulous sloe gin, dark, red and alcoholic, good enough to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winter’s night.

Poinsettia varieties

Poinsettia Poinsettia Poinsettia

Poinsettia Poinsettia Poinsettia

Going round a Christmas market in Innsbruck, Austria (as you do!) I came across a stall that sold a huge variety of poinsettias.

I’m afraid I couldn’t resist photographing the many colours and shapes presented before me.

These were certainly better than the ordinary red ones we have here in our Reading market.