Sleeping Beauty

My eldest daughter and I are trying to take regular walks at the weekend through the winter.  Today Stevie dropped us at Sissinghurst so that we could skirt the perimeter of the estate, and then walk home.

There are hedges on both sides of the driveway.  They are over my head, but this allowed me to admire the upward facing spurs against a clear blue sky.

The only green is from the holly and the ivy.

Ivy is important in hedgerows in winter. It provides cover for birds, mammals and insects.  The nectar, pollen and berries are a vital food source.

Catkins are providing subtle decoration. You have to take joy where you can find it in winter.

I think that this hazel is coppiced to provide plant supports in the garden at Sissinghurst.

On the other side of the lane, there was a low rolling mist providing a blue haze below the line of the trees.

These oaks feel like old friends.

Each has its own character.

We didn’t see a soul approaching the castle today.

The pleached limes stood like sentinels, guarding the entrance.

We gave them a wide berth, and carried on around the perimeter. 

Looking in over these briars made me feel that all the garden was sleeping, like in the fairy tale of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

I imagined the gardeners stood frozen, pushing their barrows, bent over the flowerbeds, pruning the roses.

For now, the garden must sleep on, and we must leave it to its slumber. 

This is the view out to the kingdom beyond.

I love the smudge of turquoise from the frost on the field.  There was a robin on the gate, but I was not quick enough with my zoom lens to capture it.

We started walking with purpose now, knowing it was a long way home.  This is the view looking back, with the tower in the distance.

You may have noticed I have a thing for hedgerows.  At this time of year, I love the deep red of dogwood stems.  When I’m driving and I see a stretch of them, and I am so glad of the colour.

The top of the hedge is always reddest, where there are new shoots. Often there is a clear re-growth line, showing where the hedge was last trimmed.

You can see the tiny nubs of next year’s leaf-buds.

For now they lie dormant, sleeping, in a bit of a haze.

I looked back the other way, the way we had come, and that was sparkling with the melting frost.

Maybe it was all just a dream.

We are in the inbetween-time.  We are waiting for signs of life.  I can see them already, with the shoots of the bulbs already pushing up the soil.  But it will be a slow start.  There will be much yawning, pulling the covers back over the head, and dozing off back to sleep again.

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42 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    I love the rolling mist and the BLUE sky! I’ve not seen a clear blue sky like this for weeks and weeks, we are under a heavy blanket of clouds in Wales.

    1. gaiainaction says:

      Emma, I could not help being surprised that in Wales you too are living under a tick blanket of clouds, here in West Cork it has been unbelievable, no sun whatsoever, mist and low grey sky! I thought it was only in Ireland.
      So wishing for blue sky and sunshine.

    2. It makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? We have had a mixed bag. The sun inspires me to get out.

  2. Clare Pooley says:

    Blue sky! We have been gloomy and cloudy here in East Anglia, too. I enjoyed being with you on your walk, Ali and what a comfort it is, seeing those tiny buds and baby catkins!

    1. Thank you Clare, it is always nice to have company. I love bud-watching!

  3. I love everything about this post. The castle , the smudge of a turquoise sky. Sleeping Beauty. It’s truly heaven. So comforting!

    1. Aw, I am glad you enjoyed it, Lisa. Especially the smudge of turquoise!

  4. I love your posts Ali!!! How blessed you are to live withing walking distance of Sissinghurst. How I wish I lived in England!

    1. Thank you Cindy! We are lucky in this!

  5. gaiainaction says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos, it makes me want to go for a walk in nature right now! Ali it is lovely that you took us with you on your walk, thank you! I took am finding signs of life, but the coldest weather is still to come here. Cheers!

    1. You are right, the worst is to come. I find winter more tiresome, the closer we get to spring. By the end of February I am desperate. Thank goodness for bulbs and blossom.

      1. gaiainaction says:

        Indeed Ali, spring flowers do give us much pleasure and cheer us up. They are the hope bringers of flowers 🙂

      2. They are. I spotted snowdrops yesterday!

  6. Great post. I feel like I was on the walk with you. I’m always appreciative of blue skies and sunshine in the winter!

    1. That is nice to know. Yes, a blue sky makes the cold quite bearable.

  7. Chloris says:

    Sounds like a lovely walk, lucky you living so near Sussinghurst. Fabulous photographs.

    1. We are. I hope I never take it for granted.

  8. I cannot wait to visit England and walk someday. Maybe I will get to go on a walk with you, Ali. That would be lovely. I loved your pictures especially of the fog rolling over the the hills. This reminded me of horse farms in Kentucky where I live! I think you would like them!

    1. That would be wonderful! I like the sound of that mist, and I need to find out more about Kentucky.

  9. Heyjude says:

    What a lovely walk, and like others have said on here, I envy you the blue sky. My favourite pictures have to be those wonderful oak trees. Bare trees are magnificent in winter and that low-lying mist makes it all so mysterious.

    1. The oaks are just incredible, aren’t they? Some of the angles of their branches and twigs are so dramatic; it looks like they shouldn’t be able to hold their weight up.

  10. shazza says:

    I am patiently waiting for snowdrops to appear.
    I always wondered what those reddish twigs were called. Dogwood. Now I know! X

    1. That makes me happy! I have reciprocated after you have shared your plant knowledge with me!

  11. bcparkison says:

    Another plesant walk with you. Here… we are hopeful that what ever may be hidding beneath the soil doesn’t drown before it gets it chance to grow. 3 1/2 inches a couple of days ago…more now and they say all next week with possible ‘winter ‘ precip. That means snow but probably ice.

    1. Brrr. Hope you stay cosy and warm.

  12. Eliza Waters says:

    You have a non-winter! Still green grass in the fields and shoots emerging? I’m a bit envious. Our worst is yet to come (shudder), we have months to go before snowdrops appear. Though I wish our winter wasn’t so long, I do love living here.
    Your walk is such a pretty one and good for you, getting out in the fresh air and sunshine (it was a stunning day).
    Happy New Year, Ali!

    1. That’s true, winters are short here, although last year we did have some very late snow. I saw my first snowdrops in the garden yesterday – they took me by surprise.

  13. Cathy says:

    Winter walks sre wonderful for observing nature and the environment, especially on a glorious day like that was.I don’t have a problem with winters myself, as they seem to pass so muuch more quickly these days – and planting for winter interest in my garden makes a huge difference

    1. Yes, I have really been enjoying Salix and Cornus stems in bright colours. And Viburnum.

      1. Cathy says:

        Oh? I wouldn’t have thought of Viburnum as having a coloured stem. I did add a dark stemmed cornus earlier this year, but it hasn’t really got established yet

      2. Sorry, I meant the blossom on V. bodnantense.

      3. Cathy says:

        Oh of course, silly me 😀

  14. These scenes evoke winters in the deep South where I grew up. Never — or rarely — any snow, but plenty of hard frosts on bitter days of clear skies. I miss those days. Thank you for taking me along with you and your daughter to the Sissinghurst grounds. Happy New Year!

  15. WOW! You make me dream of my next visit…I’m a huge fan of London but I love the natural beauty of the countryside with the occasional castle here and there. I remember my visit to Leeds Castle. It was a dreary day in June and I couldn’t help exclaiming…”I thought this only existed in literature!”

    1. Leeds Castle is very special isn’t it? My favourite time of visiting was when the moat was frozen.

  16. Beautiful post and photos. I love a good walk in bright, clear weather. Happy New Year to you. Xx

    1. There is nothing like it for blowing out the cobwebs is there? Happy New Year to you too, Sophie.

  17. Lovely post Ali. Never thought of the ivy having a purpose.

    1. No, I’ve never been a huge fan, but now can appreciate its value.

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