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  • Writer's pictureSofias Country Gardens

Dark days gardening

And so it begins - this long winter season with little light. Days go by without seeing sunshine as the skies are mostly overcast. Even on days when it doesn't rain, the clouds are there blocking out the light. But it does rain much more, and the ground is saturated with water making the soil heavy. I try not to work it nor thread on it, yet there are bulbs to plant and weeds to remove so invariably it becomes even more clogged where I have worked. Last week I was at the Gatekeepers Cottage, finally getting to grips with the large English perennial border infront of it. My Godfathers had sent me spring bulbs from Holland, and they needed planting before the frost settles.

Firstly the border needed to be weeded. I often let the weeds run a bit wild in autumn as there is so much harvesting to be done in the kitchen garden that time simply runs out. I hate couch grass, but living in the wild surrounded by nature I have come to the conclusion that as much as I continue to fight it, it will never go away. (Ditto creeping thistles.) Instead I take a philosophical stance, and regard removing it as exercise. I weed the borders a few times each season and dig the weeds out as best I can. "Never mind," I think to myself as the weeds crop up and mingle with the plants, "only God is perfect so my borders don't have to be." Now in autumn I also cut back last summers perennials, leaving the border as neat as possible for next spring. Then I planted the bulbs, one by one, to make the border into a sea of Pheasants Eye narcissus in spring. I also snuck in a mix of tulips, because... well just because I suppose.

Even if we don't get much light at this time of year, being out in the fresh air does me good. In the north of Finland, we get the long polar nights called Kaamos when the sun does't reach over the horizon at all. Here in the south it doesn't get that bad, but six hours daylight is still a very short time and especially so when the day hardly gets light at all. My Facebook feed fills up with memes about the rare times people do se the sun, with posts such as "Oh my God I saw the most amazing rare thing today!" getting the most likes. No wonder the Christmas lights come out early... Yet a part of me doesn't mind the darkness. November is a good month to cozy up at home and have early nights in. I like the quiet stillness of the countryside, and being bored in the evening after five hours of pitch blackness gets me back into a rhythm of falling asleep early. The phone goes on silent around 8 pm, and I wake up long before dawn eventually comes. It is a good life. Quiet, but very nice.

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