Posted by: christinelaennec | January 17, 2015


The dreams of all the children in Glasgow have come true:  we have snow!  Or “sna” as they say in Aberdeen.  It was a beautiful sight yesterday afternoon:

Central Station Hotel, Glasgow.  4:15 pm, 16 January 2015.

Central Station Hotel, Glasgow. 4:15 pm, 16 January 2015.

And as I write, more is falling.  This morning, I took Tilly out into the garden.  She made her way with with great caution:

Tilly carefully picking her way across the snowfield.  17 January 2015.

Tilly carefully picking her way across the snowfield. 17 January 2015.

We know this isn’t the first time she has experienced snow, because she was rescued when she was a stray kitten out in the snow in Aberdeen in February 2006.

So, just when I was thinking we wouldn’t have any snow such as Katharine Stewart described in her January 12th essay, we have a little taste of it.  Her essay for January 18th begins by extolling the virtues of the hellbore.  One of its nicknames is the “Christmas rose”.  She writes:  “The darling bud is lying there, tight closed, on the white ground, ready to open when the cold eases.” (p. 33) Some of my hellebores have sprouted up in the last week or so, despite the cold:

Hellebore, also known as Christmas rose, and Lenten Rose.  17 January 2015.

Hellebore, also known as Christmas rose, and Lenten Rose. 17 January 2015.

I know from my garden in Aberdeen, which experienced much colder weather than here in Glasgow, that the hellebores will be just fine.  There are buds on the camellia, and I am hoping that it will give us as beautiful a show as it did last year.  There are plenty of camellias in Aberdeen, so I am fairly confident this one will cope.

Camellia bush, 17 January 2015.

Camellia bush, 17 January 2015.

Katharine Stewart writes, “This is not the weather for garden work, except checking fences, but in the short, bright afternoons there is time to walk and look and plan.”  Well, my fences are fine and I don’t need to walk far to survey my garden, but I have been planning – spending time with seed catalogues, which is the gardener’s favourite winter past-time.

She then writes about weeds, taking up a few of the threads of her earlier essay.  She says that her “most persistent and invasive plant” is sweet cicely, but that it can be used as a sweetener with rhubarb, and that she gives “small plantlets to friends, with dire warnings about keeping it in check”.  She also finds feverfew beneficial:  “I now give plants of feverfew to friends who suffer from migraine and they consider it beneficial.  A few leaves eaten straight from the plant do bring relief”.  I wonder if I have feverfew in my garden?  I do leave some volunteer daisy-like plants to grow.  I must give this some thought next summer.

She writes about clover, which is so helpful for bees.  When I was, for a few years, head gardener at South Holburn Church, I worked hard to convince members of the church that we should leave the clover in the lawn, rather than to spray weedkiller on it, as had been done.  A lot of the older members considered that clover was a sign of an untended lawn.  Perhaps some of them had been groundskeepers; a lot of them were keen lawn bowlers.  After a few years, along with efforts of others in the church to qualify as an “eco-congregation,” and also publicity in the media about the plight of bees, they stopped killing the clover.  As far as I know, no children or others were stung by bees, and I think people became more open to the idea that leaving the clover was making a positive contribution to the environment.

Last year at this time, I spent some absolutely freezing sessions planting wildflower plugs in our little lawn.  They are intended for a lawn that is regularly mown short, and include red clover, white clover, lawn daisies, oxeye daisies, birdsfoot trefoil, chamomile and lady’s bedstraw.  It was hard work and I often wondered if my church garden colleagues in Aberdeen would be horrified.  We did have a few daisies this summer, and the clover has done well.  Katharine Stewart might have been amused at the idea of city dwellers spending time and money to bring wildflowers in to their gardens, when they are so plentiful out in the country.

She finishes her essay by mentioning the dreaded horsetail, or equisitum.  “It’s not a plant I’d care to talk to,” she writes (p. 34).  I had never encountered horsetail before moving to Glasgow.  Some tiny bits of it came with the new soil – to my and the landscapers’ utter horror.  Luckily, I think I was able to get them all out.  I shall have to be vigilant next spring.  I literally had nightmares about it!  There is a lot of it about here.  J has spent hours in her new garden trying to deal with it.  She said a friend of hers spent eight years ridding her garden of horsetail, by making sure that “never a Sunday went by that it wasn’t all pulled out”.  You see it growing up through concrete!  It would take over the world if given half a chance, I’m sure.

I know I am a day early in writing about Katharine Stewart’s January 18th essay, but this will have to do as I have a full weekend ahead, including shopping for a black top for Liturgical Choir today, and singing in a special ecumenical Unity service tomorrow.  I shall let you know how it goes!

I wish you all a good weekend.



  1. happy for you! 🙂

  2. My husband and I have spent a couple of lovely hours together planning out the garden, we are using seeds that were free from gardening magazines this year, …waste not want not…! Have a lovely weekend.

  3. Your lovely photos captured the beauty of the snow. I loved reading about your gardening. Happy weekend!

  4. Tilly looks so cute! Cats are funny to watch in the snow, just moving carefully, like what’s all this cold, white stuff! 🙂 I have a patch of Feverfew growing in one of my gardens. Right now, it’s sleeping under some mulch waiting for spring. Your Christmas Rose is a pretty color. We’ve only had a few dustings of snow so far, but a nice foot or so would be good about now.
    Enjoy your snowy weekend,

  5. Yes indeed, the dreaded horsetail. Living on northern Vancouver Island in Canada, it’s the bane of my existence each year and it comes up everywhere en masse. Due diligence to rid this growth is never ending. Thank you for the lovely pictures. We haven’t had snow yet this winter.

  6. I can see that snow has a certain beauty; but there must be a significant inconvenience factor too. I have never lived in a snowy climate so I really have no idea what it’s like to navigate through it by foot or by car/bus/bicycle!
    Presumably umbrellas are useless and you need footwear that’s waterproof up to your calves, at least? Do you wear gum boots to work and carry your high heels 🙂 ….and is there a place in office buildings to leave your gum boots?

  7. We took the dog up to Cathkin Braes today and we all enjoyed the snow. It makes everything look so different, somehow more peaceful. I must be honest and say the garden is way at the back of my mind at the moment although I have noticed that some of the spring bulbs have already popped their heads up, I bet they wish they hadn’t now! Horsetail is indeed a curse. I used to have quite a lot here but it’s less now and I try to keep on top of pulling it out so I think that although the war will never be won, often the battle is won! Good luck keeping it at bay.

  8. I’m enjoying your Abriachan theme. Did you know that there is a great plant nursery at Abriachan? We have never made it to the nursery yet, but I have had several batches of mail order plants from them and they arrive in good condition, sturdy plants and well packaged. We re-stocked a border in my Dad’s garden with their plants a few years ago. As you know I am not a political nationalist, but I prefer to order plants from as close to home as possible.

    Smiling at Oldblack’s notion that there might be designated places in offices to leave winter footwear. There are, I guess – it’s called ‘under your desk’. I share an office with another 2 colleagues, and in winter we have a veritable drying room of wet outer coats and gloves and various boots leaving puddles on the carpet. Like a sauna!

  9. My mum has a copy of this book. I haven’t read it but I have read the one she wrote about running a small post office and very much enjoyed it. I didn’t know that eating feverfew leaves could rid one of migraines, I’ll have to try that. I love the idea of a camomile lawn but yours sounds even better with that selection of wildflowers. I admire your dedication, I don’t even want to go outside in this weather, far less spend time gardening.

  10. Thank you everyone, for your comments! Yes, cats are very amusing in the snow. They are both fastidious and curious, which makes for a lot of paw-shaking.

    Margaret, I do sympathise with your horsetail battles. Perhaps markgran’s success story will give you some encouragement. My friend J and I have spent many conversations discussing the best ways to rid the garden of it.

    oldblack, snow and ice are indeed an inconvenience, but one I personally much prefer to the inconvenience of heat. It takes longer to get about in the snow than usual, and driving and cycling can be very dangerous. My husband is really missing his bike rides to work. However, for me there is nothing to beat a crisp morning walk in the snow, or indeed a cold starry winter’s night.

    We wear hiking boots a lot; also wellies; we haven’t yet relocated our maklaks since our house move – those are metal grippers you hook onto your feet. Umbrellas could be useful in a gentle snowfall, though I would always prefer the pleasure of snowflakes on my face. As Linda says, if you walk to an office job and change your shoes, your wellies tend to go under your desk. In Aberdeen I kept shoes and boots for the office under my desk, and swapped when I arrived and again when I left. Some days, with our scarves and hats and coats draped over radiators and chairs to dry, our office smelled a bit sheepy! In Norway, I’m told that modern office buildings often have a special room designed for outerwear. We aren’t quite that advanced here in Scotland.

    Linda, yes I have been aware of the garden centre in Abriachan – I always marvel at the special turning lane on the road beside Loch Ness – but I’ve never been there. I think buying local makes tons of sense, regardless of one’s political views, and especially where plants are concerned.

    Lorna, let us know if the feverfew is any help! While it was very cold and rainy last January, I wasn’t actually gardening in snow and ice. I try to keep off the lawn in the snow as it’s not good for it to be walked on in freezing conditions, apparently.

  11. I know the children are happy about that “sna.” I would be, too! I haven’t taken to planning yet, except ideas that are in my head. It is nice to dream about a garden, isn’t it? xo

  12. The hellebore is just gorgeous and I’m so glad you’ve had a little snow! Wish hellebore could grow here….I should look into it. We are having a very warm spell here — up to 50 and 46F. So strange. I had been told we were to have a very bad winter. Oh well. Better for the heating bill.

  13. Hello Christine, popping in to say hello. Wasn’t able to see your pictures for some reason, seem to be having a little internet problems again. Wondering if “horsetail” could be what we call “skvallerkål” here? Sounds just like it, horrible stuff. Have a lovely day, Pam

  14. Now your pictures appeared, AFTER l had pressed publish! Sweet puss, must feel strange for her. I have one cat that hates snow, the other wants to go out all the time. I am a little afraid when the snow plough comes in the evening, they are such small animals, afraid he won’t see them. Also caught site of your temperatures scarf, that looks great fun!! Pam

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