THERE has always been something melancholic about the post-Christmas period and as we grow older it intensifies.
By mid-January, spring still seems an eternity away, and even the greenhouse which has been such a refuge for many has a damp, sweet smell of staleness and idleness within its confines.
Late summer and autumn there were indeed riotous times, a permanent hothouse of activity, colour and scent.
Now, in the mid-winter gloom, is it dank and eerie.
An unearthly silence hangs in the stagnant air and the overwintering plants look dismal as they sense the approaching night of cold and darkness.
One of the biggest challenges for gardeners during January has always been how to remain inside without feeling pent up and unproductive.
After a long season in the open, it is hard for the majority to stay put in confined spaces.
We long to be active outside and suffer the ache of regret when conditions make this impossible.
I often remark that gardening, like children, leaves little time for self or for thought - that is of course, until the evenings get so short and wet that time begins to hang heavy like the rain clouds which blow in, legions strong, from the far west.
Then, all thoughts turn once more to the great outdoors.
But all things pass, and just now it suits my mood to wait for stronger signs of spring. So, I gently close the air-vents and move back inside home where it is warm and far more inviting.
Here as always, I find that sense of intimacy missing from the sleeping garden.
The lights are turned on and the door behind me softly fastened.
Something inside smells wonderful so Frances and I will enjoy supper together and a little dreaming by the fire thereafter.