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Early Winter Walk

Autumn has passed. Skeletal remains of leaves are everywhere, lots of crinkly brown shells upon the ground and others still clinging to trees.

I find a single oakleaf hydrangea leaf that still has its fall color. It is the last one, as far as I can see.

I appreciate the Spartan beauty of winter, especially on a pleasantly crisp day with a brilliant blue sky. I walk out on the patio and hear the call of two red tail hawks, soaring high overhead. I breathe in the air and smell the tea olives down in the arbor garden, their blooms tiny and obscure but with a wonderful fragrance that carries on the breeze. I realize this is a perfect day for an early winter walk, so I hurry back inside for my camera.

Back outside, I point my camera at some bright dogwood berries with the cerulean sky above them.

I walk a little farther and take a shot across the front lawn, a view stripped now almost to its essentials. Many dried Japanese maple leaves hold desperately to branches, but other trees are bare: 

Evergreens stand out and provide structure and color to the December garden. Below is a small sampling: Clockwise from top left: Rosemary; Deodar Cedar 'Feelin' Blue'; Japanese Cedar; Cryptomeria japonica.

A group of evergreen Nandina 'Firepower' grows next to the front parking court. These sterile nandinas provide a lot of color through the winter:

Another evergreen with winter interest is Pieris japonica 'Cavatine', laden with buds that will open next spring:

I walk along a path that leads to the arbor garden. I recently planted several Winterberry hollies next to this path. 'Winter Gold' is filled with golden berries that the birds will soon consume:

The bark of a large oak tree catches my attention. Moss highlights the bark's lattice pattern:

Near the oak I spy some acorn shells:

Edgeworthia is a deciduous shrub with wonderful structure, cinnamon-colored bark and outstanding buds that will open in late winter:

Eventually I wander over to the woodland garden, where fallen leaves are thick upon the ground. Lou works hard to keep the paths cleared, but the leaves come quickly behind him. In places the path is nearly obscured. I have been out for a while now, and it is late in the day. Long shadows stretch across the land.

I realize the sun is beginning to go down, and the air is suddenly cold. The days are so much shorter now. I pause to take one last photo, this one of the jasmine arch, lit up for Christmas. The light is just dim enough for the lights to be seen. 

I am content as I enter the house. A walk in the garden always refreshes my spirit, and it has given me unrushed time to reflect upon the Christmas season. Peace to you all!   Deb

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Reader Comments (17)

Interesting how many things we have alike and how many are different. For example, I, too, have one last red leaf on the oakleaf hydrangea, fragrant tea olive, red-tailed hawks kee-eeeee-arr-ing, and nandina today, but not the berries or deciduous shrubs. I love the last picture best ... how the rounded shrub mimics the curve of the arch, how the sun is setting and the lights coming on.

December 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane Strong

I love your woodland garden, Deb. Stripped down to its essentials as you said, it shines like woman brave enough to venture out without make-up, showing her natural beauty. As ever, you have a keen eye for the subtle details that make your space so special.

December 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Beautiful images as always Debs! There still so much beauty around and to enjoy during the depths of winter and it's important to be able to see that like you do. And that beauty are clearly demonstrated by your photos :)

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Thank you for letting me take a walk with you in your lovely garden, it is beautiful in its muted December colour and your photos are gorgeous as always. A walk in my garden always refreshes my spirit too, I try to do it every day, even though my garden is a postage stamp size compared to yours :-)
Have a great Sunday!

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHelene

How beautiful ! I love your autumn scenery. Great captured the beauty of the garden !
Have a happy Sunday :)

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEla

There's always enchantment in the winter garden.

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

Peace to you too, Deb. I think I would love a walk in your garden. It has every element I would desire, but most of all the contentment of the space.

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I love how your domed evergreens set off the deciduous shapes, there is so much beauty in tree skeletons. Like you, I love the ever changing patterns made by the setting sun behind the trees. Thank you for taking us through your garden with you.

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Greatly admired your evergreens that we can't grow and your empty acorn shells.

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Jones

What a difference in winter Deb....I love the structure...it is so restful I can understand why you love to walk in it....I love it in all its seasons.

December 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Beautiful Deb. I like the round evergreen shapes and the colorful berries and the arch with the Christmas lights...oké, I like everything about your garden. What is the name of the big evergreen fern?

December 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Hello, everybody! Thank you so much for your support and your kind comments! Denise, that big fern is Dryopteris erythrosora, also called Autumn Fern. It is my favorite! Deb

December 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

As your say, winter is more spartan than fall. I think that it allows you to focus in more and notice things like acorn tops. I try to sneak outside every day. Like you, I find it refreshes me and balances the hustle-bustle of this busy time of year.

December 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Thank you for your answer Deb. I have a Dryopteris erythrosora in my garden but I didn't recognize it. I hope mine will one day be as big and beautiful as yours.

December 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

You are so wise to enjoy the sparse beauty of winter. I'd like to do the same, if only the leaden skies would lift! Maybe I'll enjoy winter a bit more once a soft, white snow come along to cleanse the world. Your winter garden is lovely, and charming, and I enjoyed your winter walk from the warmth of my home.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL

You've captured the beauty of winter perfectly with your words and pictures.

December 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Oh Deb, your woodland garden is so amazing. Wish I would have so much space around my house - but so I can walk along your pathes and smell the fresh air, hear the dry leaves under my shoes and enjoy this post. Wonderful
Have a peacful and happy holiday season. All my best to you and yours

December 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTante Mali

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