The dog days of winter.

Grey skies abound, but seek out colour and you will find it.



1/3/20233 min read

The skies are leaden and all colour seems to have been drained from the landscape. It is January and time to take down the Christmas lights and burn the shrivelling holly. These are indeed the dog days of winter. Not so long ago the brilliant colours of autumn were still to be seen in the woods. Now, even the lingering oak leaves have turned a melancholy brown, and the twisted forms of vines and trees are exposed for all to see.

But look a little closer and there is a subtle beauty and colour amid the winter air. The viburnum tinus which lines the motorway is densely covered with white flowers , while in the supermarket car park the bare micocoulier trees dangle their little yellow dried fruits above the cars like thousands of miniature baubles to brighten our day. A cutting of winter jasmine taken from a friend's garden many years ago has now spread around our front door to welcome us as we return home , and while the birds have taken all our holly berries, there are still the scarlet berries of the fragon, or false holly to enjoy . Winter is indeed drab, but it is never dull.


Look up towards the forest that dominates the hillside. Some would say that single species plantations are boring, but in amongst the Austrian pines you will find many other evergreens, such as giant cedars , nordmann spruce, and aleppo pines. The occasional giant Italian cyprus is a sign of an earlier habitation from long ago. Every species of tree is a different green. Indeed the forest is clothed in many many shades of green from the grey green of the lichen , to the bright emerald mosses; from the sombre green cedars to the lighter pines. And of course down in the valley the olive trees bear their silvery green leaves all winter long.

Winter Jasmine

Micocoulier trees

white flowers in tilt shift lens
white flowers in tilt shift lens


Viburnum tinus flowers

false holly/fragon
false holly/fragon

Fragon or false holly.

There my tale of winter colour might have ended. But yesterday a new shade was added to our forest winter palette. It ocurred just after eight a.m.. Dawn had broken and the the fast encroaching light was chasing away the vestiges of darkness. Suddenly the world outside our bedroom window changed dramatically. The dull brown oak leaves turned scarlet as did the air which seemed to be filled with red throbbing light. It soon passed, and the day ahead suddenly appeared dull and unpromising. But I shall always treasure that rare moment when our winter forest world turned red.