Tracks in the Winter Garden

by Beth Chatto

The first thing I noticed as I watched my own boots sink below the blue-shadowed surface were the footprints of many other occupants of the garden.

The mallard duck had left their heavy, plodding trails before flying off, hopefully, to someplace where the water is not totally frozen over - probably to the salt marshes which are not far away.

The large webless prints of moorhens, setting off in determined straight lines, were everywhere.

Blackbirds, thrushes, robins, and jackdaws were evident in a confused jumble of prints all around the house and buildings.

I wish I could identify more of the strange little footmarks to be found in the snow. However, it is not difficult to recognize rabbits’ long feet, crisscrossing an area we call ‘The Wilderness,’ my last two acres of uncultivated land, which is wired off from the garden with rabbit-proof netting.

Here too, I saw the prints of a fox together with a continuous hollow scraped in the soft snow. It was easy to imagine him dragging his kill back to some hideaway.

Wingbeats of alighting birds were left imprinted as blue-shadowed fans on the glittering whiteness.
— Beth Chatto, garden writer and gardener, Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook, January


As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
Tracks in the Winter Garden
Tracks in the Winter Garden

Leave a Comment