Yesterday we went out to look for logs, past Boreham and stopped off at the small garden centre at the corner with the blacksmith's workshop and the pony standing rather cold in the field. A wooden shed in the car park was filled with vegetables and fruit,honey, flour, apple juice, etc. Local produce included great sticks of sprouts, parsnips, knobbly carrots, celeriac, leeks of uneven size, local apples, purple sprouting broccoli, half a dozen different sacks of potatoes and even chestnuts. It was a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, as I had been bemoaning the fact that very morning about no greengrocers in Chelmsford it was a pleasant surprise. The man who was serving in this very cold place was for me a local hero... Doubt if he will get rich, but hopefully people will buy his stuff.
The new year has began, cold and snowy with low temperatures, further along the lane heavy farm machinery had turned the surface to a muddy river as they brought in the sugar beet harvest, the field compacted into drifts of water. Thoughts turn to gardening and raising new seed, yellow tomatoes come to mind, mixed saladini lettuces, runner and french beans, their shoots 's pushing up through the soil as the first leaf springs forth from the dark shiny bean. Courgettes their large tough leaf scratches the hand as you pick the fruit, yellow flowers almost always heralding a fruit.
Rosemary's bitter scent as you crush it, feathery purple fennel a perfect foil for the dark red rose and to nibble at for the aniseed taste, and lavender's greyness offset by sky blue flowers.
Mints, apple mint with its soft grey-green leaf, spearmint less spectacular and the dark mints that smell of perfume. There are scented geraniums as well, the flower is not so elegant but their leaves smell sweet.
Yesterday's Guardian magazine featured a garden full of tall spiky exotics, and for a while the thought appealed but it has always seemed a waste of good growing space to fill it with coloured grasses and spiky plants from New Zealand.
The morning has dawned bright and very cold with a clear moon still visible, the birds come to the garden for food, the three collared doves and starlings in the back, and on the green, sparrows and a solitary black and white wagtail, the berries in the hedge have all but disappeared having been stripped by fieldfares. Summer is a long way off at the moment, -17 degrees in a part of Scotland, and the seagulls wheeling round in the sky are ravenously hungry in this bright cold weather.