“Happy Christmas!”

With less than 4 hours till the big day, I wanted to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Christmas Tree

This is our annual Christmas tree outside the hospice. It is about 8m tall and is decked out with 6,000 lights. “A Light for a Life” is one of the hospices main fundraising events, raising between £40-50,000. It took four of us nearly three days to put up the tree using a cherry picker. This photo was taken using a long exposure whilst moving the camera around in small circles.

Two years ago my New Year’s resolution was to start a blog on my work at the hospice. My resolution this year is going to be to write at least one blog a month, with no excuses!

The last time I wrote, I was about to go to the awards ceremony for North West in Bloom. I am glad to say that we won two awards. Firstly, a special award in recognition of our wildlife garden, and secondly a “Gold” award in the hospice category. I was so chuffed with both of them and it made  all the hard work worthwhile. A big thank you to all the volunteers who have helped me.

NW in Bloom awards

I’m sure it must be an optical illusion, but I look ridiculously tall in this picture!

Despite the arrival of autumn and winter, I have still been busy in the gardens. Back in October I spent nearly 4 weeks cleaning out a large pond, which had become clogged up with weeds and was stinking. I managed to fill well over 100 wheelbarrows with sludged and reeds. It was such a horrid job, and one which I don’t think had been done for 15 years, but well worth it. This was the pond this morning.

Clean pond

There have still been plants that have been catching my eye recently. Whilst picking up leaves one morning I came across this beautiful tiny green mushroom. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my main camera, so had to use my phone. The mushroom is a Parrot Waxcap or Gliophorus psittacinus.

Parrot Waxcap

Last week, I was wandering around the gardens when I saw that the Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripe’ that we planted in June of this year was still flowering. It is supposed to flower in mid to late spring for 3-4 weeks. Not bad still flowering mid December!

Phlox subulata 'Candy Stripe'

I have also been busy planting. I have mentioned before how my Dad was very into growing roses. So after his death a year ago, I decided that I would like to plant a rose bed at the hospice. After much studying of the David Austen catalogue, I picked five varieties and ordered three of each. I then spent a whole day planting them. Most of the time was spent trying to dig the holes deep enough – there was a layer of hard clay/slate about 8 inches under the surface. They don’t look much now, but I am hopeful that by the summer the bed will be full of colour and smelling divine!

Newly planted rose bed

I love the gardens in winter. They might not be so colourful, but they still feel very peaceful. There isn’t too much to do at the moment – just a bit of tidying up here and there, and filling up the bird feeders. So I am taking a some time off. Not that I am resting, as my wife and I are about to move house, so there is lots to do. The new house has a good sized, mature garden which I am excited about working in next spring and summer.

Enjoy your Christmas and have a great New Year!   XXX

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