The year has flown – I can’t believe it is Christmas time again at Ewhurst Park. This last year has brought so many wonderful new challenges and experiences for me and my team. From struggling with droughts to learning how to identify foraged mushrooms, chasing escaped pigs (and piglets), to making homemade apple juice from the Ewhurst Park orchard for the first time – it has certainly been an amazing year. We have much to look forward to over the next few months, but I wanted to take some time to reflect on where we are now, embracing another season and these wonderful winter days in Hampshire.
Winter at Ewhurst Park
Although it certainly took time to adjust to the cooler weather here, compared to the balmy Southeast Asian temperatures I grew up with, I have grown to love the winters in England. The crisp air and the changing of seasons are so refreshing, and I love how festive the countryside begins to feel in the lead up to Christmas. Villages and towns are illuminated with twinkling lights, and everyone excitedly bustles around preparing for the holiday.
And it’s not just the people who are busy! Though the leaves have fallen off the trees and the animals are preparing to bunker down in the colder months, there is still so much happening with nature. As I walk among the trees and around the lake, I see squirrels gathering food to store over the winter. I see winter Moths fluttering near some bare bushes. I see birds flying overhead and landing on the water, having flown hundreds of miles to spend the winter further south.
Egyptian Geese on the lake (15th Dec)
And the foliage, though different from the deep greens and bright oranges in other seasons, is still stunningly beautiful. Chanterelle mushrooms and wild chickweed dot the forest floor, and will throughout the season. Blackberries can still be found in hedgerows, and chestnuts hang from trees. And the sparseness of the leaves on other trees allows the coniferous trees – pines, yews and fir trees – to shine. Their green needles are still as vibrant as ever.
However, perhaps no plants better symbolise the winter season to me than the holly bush. I spotted some red holly berries when walking at Ewhurst Park this week, and the bright hue immediately reminded me of one of my favourite traditional English Christmas carols – “The Holly and the Ivy.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tune, it is truly lovely. Two stanzas in particular sum up the gorgeous English Winter for me:
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown
O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
I hope to have a winter full of merry organ music, running deer, and stunning holly – it sounds like a perfect December to me!
I am looking forward to another Christmas walking in nature at Ewhurst, and celebrating the holiday with my children, friends and neighbours! I wish all of my readers a very happy holiday season, and all the best for the new year.