The pace is quickening, faster and faster, as we frenziedly scurry around to make sure Christmas is a joyful, happy day. In all this melée, I crave a moment of peace when plans and timetables slip gently away. You get things into proportion. You realise that it’s not the end of the world if Amazon doesn’t get presents to some shamefully forgotten relatives in time.

It’s time to switch off. Let’s imagine it’s not lashing with rain or blowing a gale and you can slip into the garden and slow down, draw breath and let your eyes and ears calm your addled brain.

The garden has so much to offer, even at this time of year, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about all the jobs you need be doing there. Just wonder at the low afternoon sun as it works its magic, casting beautifully washed out pinks and yellows through twigs and branches, and peeks between the trees themselves. And all this while highlighting their symmetrically curving outline against the fading light.

If snowy, branches stripped of foliage will be edged in white. If you’ve nipped out between the showers, watch little droplets of rain slip to the lowest part of stems and drip slowly and almost silently to the ground.

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If the mistle thrushes have left any holly berries for later, why not enjoy the little glossy bunches nestling in the spiky embrace of frost-encrusted foliage. Or wonder at the stalwart little Viburnum flowers bravely withstanding all but the fiercest frosts. Then take a moment to gently let your hand pass over the trunks of any trees you grow. Every one is different: the smoothness of ash, the regular horizontal lines circling a cherry’s bark, a flaky hazel, or the oak’s protruding hills and sunken valleys.

And green isn’t restricted to leaves. Some stems or branches may be coated with a tiny forest of pale green lichens. Take a hand lens and pick out the shapes and patterns it reveals.

And why spurn the bright green moss that covers walls and boulders. It may not always be welcome in every lawn, but I’m thankful for it in shady spots where grass can’t grow. Over the years, one path alongside my burn has become mossy as trees grew up to make it too dark.

If you can nip into the garden in the morning after a fresh fall of snow, you may see that the garden is busier by night than by day as footprints reveal your unseen visitors and birds on the early shift searching for a bite leave their tracks.

During the recent snows, I was fascinated to see how valuable a bridge I had made across the burn was to some residents. I could identify badgers’ and foxes’ paws as well as deer slots. They obviously preferred the dry and easy way to cross the water. Was the bridge wide enough for two lanes or should I have made passing places?

Plant of the week

Ivy ‘Goldheart’, Hedera helix ‘Oro di Bogliasco’, has shiny green leaves irregularly splashed with yellow/gold. It is vigorous and should provide plenty of stems for decoration; older plants allowed to grow tall will produce flowering shoots.

Plant so that it can climb up a tree or wall, it copes well with shade and dry conditions.