Funnily enough, I really love winter for the light and the dark of it. The light is mysterious in the morning, giving everything a ghostly paleness with a pale, bright sun coming up. We have had a more winter-like winter than in past years so far, with Christmas sandwiched between two long stretches of 2-3 weeks with temperatures around -4C or even -7C now and then. The upside of this has been bright sunshine most days, the downside has been absolutely no rain. So, apart from winter protection or coming inside for some plants, nothing has been stressed that much, as the winter wet is more of a killer than the cold.
I have even, so far, got away with experimenting with two forms of Westringia, which I am trying in the south-facing, normally dry as a biscuit, bit of the garden. Westringia fruticosa ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ is a bushy small shrub, should get to about 1m allround, with a rosemary meets lavender look about it, silvery-grey-green narrow leaves and lilac blue flowers. The Australians regard it as super-hardy, and so far mine has tackled -7C without flinching. I wanted to try it, almost just because I could….there is no other reason, and I found it on ebay at a very good UK ebay nursery called hotplantcompany from whom I have bought quite a few things over the years. Now mine is looking very young and uninteresting at the moment, but here is what I hope it will become in good time, especially as it is hanging on very well right now.
The second Westringia was one of those lucky purchases. We made a rare sojourn out to a nursery en route to Toulouse, le Jardin Embalogue, just outside Mirande at the beginning of December. There we found another Westringia, which led to my second Australian Westringia experiment. Westringia rosmariniformis is very much like a lax rosemary plant to look at, and is a little less hardy on paper than its cousin above. But again, it has made it thus far, and so I am hopeful. It may get bigger too, maybe 1.5m x 1.5m.
In the frost, though, such delicacy is revealed. Even the humble, though extraordinary spiders webs are crystalline as the finest of jewellery. You just have to get up really close and be there as the sun rises, before it all melts away. I love those moments.