When my children were young, we lived the tree-change dream. We built a house on our bush block, high on a ridge above the Karuah River. East-facing bedrooms with large windows captured the sublime colours of sunrise, and the drama of moonrise, all year round. A favourite memory is watching a big, buttery yellow moon rising, with my little son, as I read his bedtime story.
Nowadays I live in a suburban setting. Trees growing around the perimeter of my quarter acre block provide a sense of seclusion and privacy, and much-needed shade in the summer. But there’s a lovely surprise as we approach the winter solstice, when the sun rises at its northernmost point. At this time, the newly bare branches of the liquidambar allow a good view of the sunrise as I prepare for work. Just a few days ago, I was treated to this gorgeous pink and orange sky, viewed through dramatically dark, bare branches.
Midwinter sunrise at Mudgee
After the splendour of the autumn foliage has passed, the “bare bones”of the deciduous trees are visible. These may be adorned by lichens, or twisted in intricate shapes which are hidden by leaves for most of the year. Tom and I photographed some of the austerely beautiful winter trees and gardens around Mudgee. I love the tightly closed, downy grey buds, the growing tips, of the Manchurian pears, which line both sides of the main street.
Manchurian pear, Church Street, Mudgee
Willow, Cudgegong River
Winter garden at Cloudehill, Victoria
Many deciduous trees carry other decorations- the pale yellow berries of the cedar, and the deep blue-black privet berries, among others.
Winter moonrise viewed through the branches of a white cedar tree.
Bright red berries!
This is a time to look closely, to appreciate the small and subtle sources of beauty in the stripped-back garden. Succulents respond to the cold, dry conditions by developing deep burnished colours. The seed heads on native grasses swell as their colour turns a pale golden yellow.
Translucent Sedum “jellybeans” catches the winter sunlight
Dewdrops captured by succulents, Cloudehill, Victoria
The winter garden is peaceful, and allows the gardener to take time and to pay attention to details that are obscured by the more vibrant happenings at other times of the year. To rug up warmly and find a seat in a sunny spot, with the fluttering leaves high overhead, hinting at sounds without disturbing the quiet.
The birds are subdued, the insects have almost disappeared. But all of nature is waiting for the days to lengthen, and signs of new growth begin to appear, as soon as midwinter’s day has passed, reminding me that change is never far away.