Winter Solstice

Grape Mahonia

Grape Mahonia


Today is the winter solstice,the shortest day of the year.

We will enjoy just over nine hours of daylight today in Williamsburg, which is still five hours more than those in Iceland will see.


Orchid in bud

Jewel Orchid in bud


The sun hugs the horizon on these short, winter days, ascending to its lowest point in the sky all year, before falling back towards the sunset.

Instead of rising in the east, as it does at the Spring Equinox, the sun rises in the southeast at the furthest point along its seasonal journey.


A walk in the garden finds evidence of buds and new life everywhere.

A walk in the garden finds evidence of buds and new life everywhere.


Here, it rises 30 degree further south than it will in March.  Likewise, the sun sets in the southwest at Winter solstice, at its furthest point from due west.

The further north one observes from, the more the points of sunrise and sunset converge in the southern sky, and the lower above the horizon the sun appears at noon, if at all.

In the far north, the Winter Solstice is a time of darkness as though the sun has withdrawn from the world.

And yet today is the turning.  It is the beginning of a new solar year as the sun begins its return.


Cane Begonias are blooming now indoors.

Cane Begonias are blooming now indoors.



We are fortunate that at Winter solstice we are actually closer to the sun than we are in winter.  Even though the Northern Hemisphere is turned away, we are over 3 million miles closer to the sun than we will be in June, due to our elliptical orbit.  We are getting less solar radiation than we do in summer, but our close approach to the sun almost compensates for our shorter days, keeping our middle latitudes energized.


Christmas Cactus is blooming right on schedule.

Christmas Cactus is blooming right on schedule.


And, we are surrounded with the promise of new life, a fresh beginning, a new year to live, and a new opportunity to nourish abundance and joy in our lives.

A simple walk around the garden offers abundant evidence of the seeds, buds, cones, and fruits which hold the promise of new life.  Even in winter, the trees are alive with birds and squirrels.  The deer graze in the ravine, and geese fly overhead calling to one another.

 Happy Winter Solstice.

We offer you our best wishes for good times, good health, good fortune, and abundant love

at this time as we celebrate the return of the sun, the turning of the year, and the festivals of light.


December 17, 2014 wreath 007


All photos by Woodland Gnome 2013-2014

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

9 responses to “Winter Solstice

  1. Beautiful post, WG. Merry Solstice to you. 🙂

  2. Gorgeous mahonia! I didn’t know that we are actually (a mere) 3 million miles closer to the sun at this time. The rays still feel rather weak – looking forward to the sun’s return. Happy Solstice!

  3. Reblogged this on Forest Garden and commented:

    Happy Winter Solstice 2014! You might enjoy a post written about winter solstice, exactly a year ago today. The Winter Solstice is, one of the most ancient human celebrations on Earth. Please join us in celebrating the light on this special day.

  4. I love your Christmas Cactus Elizabeth! Looks like we are both suppose to get heavy rain tomorrow…

    • Yes, not exactly Christmas weather. I’m listening to the wind blowing now, and it’s nearly 70 out there. I have to travel today, and so am hoping for better weather than forecast, and that the front holds off until late evening to pass through central Virginia. I hope the rain doesn’t dampen your holiday spirit as you work on projects inside. Do you grow Christmas cactus? They are such fun to watch bloom. Best wishes, E

  5. That was beautiful! Thank you! 🙂 Happy Yule Tide Day! Uncle Tree

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