The garden falls quiet in December; a timely lull as our attention has been scattered elsewhere; with weekends away and indoor tasks claiming most of our free time in recent weeks.

Camber Sands in winter

Camber Sands, East Sussex


It was a pleasure to be at home, and snatch an hour outside in the sunshine this weekend, catching up with the garden without any pressing tasks – or certainly none that I will entertain now before the new year!

Long border in DecemberAmidst the muted shades of stems and seedheads, there are still plenty of bursts of colour; some from surprising places, such as the late flowering calendula and evening primrose.

Calendula flower in December

Evening primrose flower in DecemberThe fuchsias which flank the step down into the garden look incongruous; in full flower while autumn leaves gather around their feet.

Fuchsias flowering in DecemberIt’s not just flowers that are still providing colour, but foliage too, such as this striking geranium leaf.

Red autumn geranium leafThe vegetable garden is also looking surprisingly colourful for December.

December vegetable gardenThe brassicas range from the green Brussels sprouts, fattening up for our Christmas dinner, through the dark Cavalo Nero plumes and deep purple pomp of the red curly kale beyond; to the vivid green curly kale and more subdued savoy cabbages and cauliflowers beyond.

Red cabbage 'Kalibos'And one bright purple Kalibos cabbage still standing: there are a few nibbles on the outer leaves, but its pointed heart looks firm and tasty, ready to be brought into the kitchen.

Leeks standing in December

The silvery leeks are providing us with a steady harvest too; while nearby the parsnip foliage is dying back. I have marked their location with canes to help find them in a couple of weeks’ time, come sunshine or snow. The ruby stems of chard complete the picture in the kitchen garden (not pictured here), continuing to produce new leaves.

Pile of raked leaves in the garden

After exploring the garden’s winter colours, I couldn’t resist picking up a rake and sweeping out leaves from the long border. The wind does a good job here on our hilltop, clearing most of the falling leaves from the field border and lawn; so that raking leaves has been all but unnecessary for us since we began this garden. However, as our borders mature, swags of leaves driven off by the wind accumulate around the plants in the long border, providing dark and damp hiding places that are perfect for slugs and snails.  So I happily set to, pulling leaves out from the front of the border with my fingers or rake, and piling them into black bin bags. We have a high proportion of horse chestnut leaves, which are slow to break down, so I expect it will be at least two years before we have workable leafmould, but well worth the wait.


24 thoughts on “Balance

    • Thanks – it’s the first time we’ve grown Kalibos, just planted one out to try it so I’m looking forward to seeing how it tastes. Have to decide whether to put in a slaw/salad or cook it, hmm…

  1. Gosh those leeks and brassicas look good! My Cavolo Nero is looking a bit sparse now since we have picked lots of it, and the sprouts are nearly finished. I don’t generally grow leeks because I think they have poor VSR, but if I had more spce I would.

    • Thanks, Mark, they’re not looking too bad, and are giving us some good feasts so far. We haven’t been picking the kale too heavily yet, but are starting to as the weather gets colder. I do like a few homegrown leeks; they don’t take up *so* much space… they’re in the ground for a while though.

    • Our G. sangineums have good leaf colour too! They’re lovely plants, whether in bloom or not. I think the leaf I captured was from one of our G. x magnificums.

  2. Your veg looks great – that Cavalo Nero in particular. Nice to be home and catching up on what’s what in the garden after scattering yourselves around in recent weeks, although that sand and sky look stunning too!

  3. I’m so very, very, very, very, very, very jealous of your vegetables. We don’t have room for vegetables in our garden. On the other hand, the leaves on our strawberries are as colourful this year as those on your geranium.

  4. Your vegetables seem to be standing up well to all that snow Sara. I bought some ‘Kalibos’ seeds this year but never got round to sowing them 😦 Will be interested to hear your verdict on their taste.

  5. Very impressive veg plot, Sara. I should like to spend a lot more time on veg next year. At the moment the veg beds at the Priory are virtually empty. Which is a little shaming. Dave

    • Thanks Dave, we haven’t done too badly this year. You’ve had lots of other projects to keep you busy this year so shouldn’t feel too bad – some years are just like that! And there’s always next year…

    • We’re being lulled into a false sense of security – except the long darkness, which does feel wintry.
      The beach was Camber Sands; we were staying nearby for a music festival the other weekend. Almost as lovely as Oxwich/Llangennith…

  6. We stayed in a cottage just behind the dunes on Camber Sands about 2 years ago. Really loved the place. I have to keep reminding myself it’s December, it’s so mild. I’m sure cold weather will come in the new year. At least then it doesn’t feel like spring is too far away, well …. hopefully 😉

    • We liked Camber Sands too. I’m enjoying winter so far, it’s quite cold enough for me! I suspect that will change in the new year indeed with a drop in temperatures.

  7. Love your serried ranks of leeks, so attractive – and so tasty. Am trying not to envy you the sprouts, reminding myself that they are space hogs when I only have a small space, but how lovely to be able to pick Christmas dinner from your garden.

    • Thanks Janet. I only put in a couple of sprouts this year as we always have a few that end up on the compost heap. I do love a homegrown sprout and parsnip on Christmas Day – it would be great to add potatoes and carrots to that, but we usually grow ours much much earlier. I don’t find the sprouts much of a space hog as they stand so vertical with little spread…

  8. I grew sprouts a couple of years ago and haven’t got round to it since! Lack of time and organisation I suppose but I really must get myself together for next year. The mild weather has meant that all my herbs (bar the tarragon) are still producing so that’s a huge bonus for the kitchen. I always wish I had an allotment when I see photos of glorious veg like yours – but then I really wouldn’t have any spare time! Nice to see such a great photo of Camber Sands, I love the south coast and being by the sea. Did you go to see Derek Jarman’s cottage while you were nearby?

    • One of my sage plants is still flowering outside – it is very mild indeed. Sadly we didn’t find the time to visit Derek Jarman’s cottage, though it was very much on my radar. We’ll be back!

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