The first thing I have noticed on recent visits to the plot is the continual and joyful sound of birdsong coming from the surrounding area, whilst all is peaceful at ground level.
It can hard to spot the birds apart from a pair of Blue tits, which flit about among the now bare branches of my plum and apple trees, and I am often joined by two male robins whilst I go about my work. The site is looking increasingly wintry but a line of trees at one end remain in leaf, still displaying rich, autumnal orange and ochre colours.
Most of the beds are cleared and dug over for the winter apart from those planted with over-wintering crops. The tender green leaves of several rows of broad beans sown in October are now showing above the surface and at last I can begin to dig up my parsnips. These have such a long growing season that I had almost forgotten about them until I weeded their patch a few weeks ago.
Winter is not generally the time to be thinking about strawberries but I have been struck by the number of wild strawberries that are growing around the rhubarb and artichoke plants, providing a carpet of leaves throughout these cold months intermingled with the odd forget-me-not. In France they are known as Alpine strawberries and were cultivated in the 13th Century for their medicinal properties where both the fruit and leaves were used. Birds and slugs love the fruit, so I never manage to eat any myself and will try to protect them for the coming season.