Saturnalia 2014; ferocious finches and sprouting buds in my garden at the winter solstice

The shortest day at the winter solstice heralds Saturnalia, the midwinter festival in honour of the god Saturn and fertility. The fresh buds and green shoots of spring are pushing phallicly skywards in search of light whilst catkins, the flowers of the hazel tree, droop curvaceously downwards.

Feeding becomes intensely competitive for the animals because of the short length of daylight and scarcity of food, particularly here in inner London where so many people have now gone home for Christmas.
Amidst the grey gloom of winter, the ripening fruit and dark green leaves on my Tahitian lime tree are reminders of tropical sunshine: from tomorrow the days will each be longer.