Garden Stocktaking – Not Just Another Calendar!

It’s a time of year for taking stock as people say, for looking back, and forward. I always feel this although it is sometimes difficult to find a way to do this effectively, or with meaning as, after all; it is a month where days are short (literally,) and time passes quickly.

Trees shrouded in low cloud for a whole day in January, the sun barely visible between the branches.
A January day when the sun barely broke through; such an atmospheric day at Compton Verney

One of my favourite methods is to produce an advent or Christmas countdown calendar on social media, and at this point I’ve just released my eighth post. Yes, they’re quite a common sight on social channels these days, and yes it is time consuming but, as my opening text suggests; there’s more to it than posting just another Christmas calendar.

Bright yellow winter aconite flowers photographed low to the ground at Compton Verney
How could January not feature the wonderful winter aconite carpet at Compton Verney?!

Days for many of us are planned and scheduled, we have to be places, do things, and livings must be earned. Time seems to slip away and is often driven by all those necessary tasks, however fascinating or engaging they may be. For me therefore, escapism is needed, and typically it is to gardens, plants, and outside spaces that I turn.

Ladders, loppers and bright blue sky. It must be fruit tree pruning at Compton Verney.
A new garden taken under our wing at Compton Verney, and a time to shape some forgotten fruit trees…

I photograph, and I photograph lots. Over the last three years I’ve snapped nearly ten thousand images, mostly on a mobile phone, and mostly of green things, flowering things, woody things and such like. Some shareable, some just to record a moment or place, and some to aid research; I guess you’re much the same.

An image showing the formal terrace of stone paving, central sundial, grass sections and structural planting of Bergenia’s.The stunning Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens designed terrace at Hestercombe Gardens.

Sometimes my photos turn out well, and I like to share them, I share them to spread a little joy and to remain present; even in a sea of images I mostly prefer to remain present, than to remain silent. I post images because I want to be part of a community that appreciates, loves, cares for and celebrates horticulture in all its forms.

Snowy images of Compton Verney including snow encrusted grass and cedar foliage, and lawns lost to a sea of snow.Spring officially postponed for this snow time back in March at Compton Verney

Being part of that community matters to me, and being seen to contribute matters to me also. It also allows me to simply share the appreciation I have for a wonderful plant I notice, a foraging bee, a well tended garden, or an inspired planting scheme and such like. (It also provides opportunity to support, in a small way, a venue or other people who are making an effort; a little extra promotion can go a long way!)

A low down image of a yellow primrose flower amongst a grassy slope.
Primrose flowering beside the middle pool at Compton Verney

All that said, I’d like to introduce my advent, or Christmas Countdown calendar. The images in this post represent an opportunity I’m taking this year to escape the norm, to look back, and to sift gradually through my year of horticultural highlights. It’s my time to share a favourite plant that jumped into my lens. It’s my time to scoot through a year of work and garden visiting, and it’s my time to up-sell just a few of the many gardens I hold dear.

Marsh Marigold’s yellow flowers beside a pond at Castle Bromwich Hall GardensMarsh Marigold flowering beside a formal pond at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The first eight days of posts are here to set the tone, and more will be posted to my Twitter and Instagram feeds as December continues. Whilst I’m nearing the end of another energy draining, back aching year of work, and as plans for next are well advanced, I’m finding this quite a cathartic exercise and I thoroughly recommend it!

If I’m honest, I was a little concerned over the time it might take, but I’ve actually really enjoyed the process of searching through each monthly folder of images – it’s been tough deciding which images to leave out, in fact I failed with my early March post by adding four images in one post!

Red tulips on a sunny terrace border at Belsay HallRed tulips in April at the English Heritage managed Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens.

I can only hope that anyone who happens across one of my posts enjoys a moment of contemplation, remembrance or delight. Do look for my posts each day, and do let me know what, if anything each post says to you.

Instagram: @Gary_Webb1

Twitter: @GaryWebb1


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