The pond is full to the brim, and surely spills over in the rain. Wheelbarrows are heaped on our twin compost heaps. They will not compost, nor add warmth this time of year, but they give us a little more space, and tell anyone: *No more on the heaps, please. They are full.*

It’s chilly with a biting wind. Surprisingly, there are a few flowers still around. Some golden marigolds and yellow wallflowers. They remind me of shivering street children. The large wildflower bed is covered in carpet underlay, held down by our grim Moai at the centre and bits of concrete at the edge. In June, this bed was a riot of colour with blue cornflowers, red campion, yellow hawkweed, and the white flowers of wild carrot. All a memory. Summer will come again, even if it seems unlikely these short, dark days.

There’s three privet hedges along the front of the garden, by the hoardings. I realise they were part of the garden’s privet hedge on Earlham Grove in the days when this was a house. The last incarnation was as a women’s refuge, before demolition in 2007. It was another six years before we came across the site, full of refuse and buddleia bushes. But amidst the chaos was evidence of a once tidier garden, witness the privets.

While we work or chat, there’s the cacophonous symphony from the site next door: buzz saws, drills, and ringing steel. The two high cranes are stately and regal; the long arms swinging to wherever required. I wonder about the life of the driver in the high cabin. I saw, one morning about 7.45, a man climbing the ladder up to the cabin. Presumably, he stays there all day. There must be a toilet, he’d have his lunch and tea with him. And of course a radio, to keep in touch with the foreman on the ground telling him what to lift and where to take it.

Poking over the wall from the Gateway site is a holly tree. It is in the old vicarage garden; building work has not begun there. The holly tree has green berries which should turn red in a week or so. I was in a woodland last week where there were many holly bushes but few had berries. Holly bushes are dioecious which means they need male and female plants in order to produce berries. The woodland I was in had mostly all male or all female bushes. I don’t know which. Without flowers, hollies are much harder to sex than kittens. But single sex meant few berries, as the holly cannot self fertilize.

Next to the holly is an ivy with green berries. A festive pairing beloved of carol singers. Both are evergreen with berries this time of year. Good for wreaths and for decorating the tree.

All that strip of vegetation will go when work begins on the site in the spring. We need to discuss with Gateway what goes in its place.