6 December 2016
There was a genuine air of excitement last week as the first
really hard frost of the year hit. The days were very dry and very
cold with barely a breath of air moving. At midday the sun rose
just high enough over the hills to fill the garden with brilliant
clear light, the frost sparkled like jewels and sent us all out
into the garden to capture an essence of the magic. William flew
his drone high over the house revealing the comparative isolation
of the garden while highlighting the patternation which has been
created here. Britt used her camera to highlight the sharp forms
and layers the frost had revealed also taking time to capture
details from angles that always manage to be novel and yet retain a
strong sense of place. I, meanwhile followed both and thoroughly
enjoyed seeing the garden through different eyes and lenses.
Today is very different. Today is one of the few days that I find myself alone here. The temperature has risen sufficiently to lift the frost but a dull grimey mist hangs low in the valley instead. The transition of a garden from frosty winter wonderland to dull sulky brown is always a bit disappointing, but it does mean that I can resume my bulb planting efforts which is a relief.
I elected to sit outside for my lunch today and so I'm writing from the metal chair on top of the garden theatre wrapped in my ancient ex army coat in an attempt to keep warm. The air is once again very still, but this time I have the garden all to myself. The trees in the fields beyond have taken on ghostly wraith like shapes in the landscape and the only noise is the babbling of the stream as the water travels relentlessly on. I'm getting chilly sitting here so I think I'll move on and get some more bulbs in the ground.
Over the last few weeks the weather has been pretty exciting; first we had huge amounts of water and flooding in the lane and then the cold snap last week. Today feels like a classic British mid-winter day, chilly, damp and brown but in some ways it's almost a relief to have a break from the extremes. It'll be the images captured by Britt and William which will stay in my memory the longest though, and the excitement of capturing the light and cold as the sun rose over the wintery hill.
Words: Steve Lannin, Head Gardener at Allt-y-bela
Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer
Short film: William Collinson