As the year draws to a close, my excitement builds as I am on a countdown. I love Christmas and its rituals, and enjoy a glass of bubbles on New Years Eve, but it is neither of these dates which I eagerly await. It is the winter solstice on the 21st December , when the days cease to shorten and slowly, slowly the light returns to our gardens; that really signifies the start of a new gardening season. We will surely get some of our coldest and bleakest weather over the next few months but the extra minutes and hours of light will be triggering plants into growth, and in the shelter of a greenhouse I will be making my first few sowings of seed (apparently my giant onion seed should be sown on Boxing day!! ). It is now also that I will be pruning the grape vines and mulberry as soon as the leaves have fallen, best done before the sap begins to rise. This will lessen the chances of bleeding from the fresh wounds, and provide perfect material for the essential solstice bonfire. So lets end on a high, gazing into the embers, maybe nursing a tankard of warm cider and cooking up plans for next year.