Like the bears, we are heading into hibernation for the season.

The first day of December and the Gardens remain open, though few people walk its paths. Other than the few oak leaves still clinging to their trees, and some roses and primulas which continue to bloom in spite of the lateness of the season, the rest of the gardens have settled into winter dormancy.There is still beauty to behold, a testament to good garden design. Evergreen plants and trees put on a varied display of color and texture, the naked shapes of defoliated trees draw one to admire their contorted limbs, and exfoliating bark blazes streaks of color in the grey surroundings. Today is the last day to enjoy these gifts of nature. At dusk, the Gardens will be closing after a glorious (though slow starting) season.

Wreath on the main gates of the Halifax Public Gardens.

Representing the circle of life, Christmas wreaths are traditionally made of evergreens to celebrate the victory of life through darkness and challenge. The beautiful wreath Glen made hangs on the main gates, heralding the festive season.

Flora in the goose enclosure at the Halifax Public Gardens.

Phoenix rising! Flora is very excited to see me. I think she's lonely. As soon as I arrived at the fence both she and Finegan came over for a chat.

Rhododendrons at the Halifax Public Gardens.

True to the axially symmetrical design Richard Power chose for the Gardens, this huge clump of Rhododendrons are mirrored on the other side of the bandstand.

Rosa (Rose) at the Halifax Public Gardens.

The last of a dying breed. It's December 1 and there are still some Rosas (roses) and Primulas blooming in the Gardens in spite of the snow we experienced last week. We should all be so hardy!

Acer griseum (Paperbark maple) by the ladies washroom at the Halifax Public Gardens.

Exfoliating bark on this Acer griseum (Paperbark maple) add interest and color to the bed by the ladies washroom.

 It’s cold and damp, and getting harder to find inspiration, so I decide to head for the greenhouses belonging to the Gardens. I am privileged to have access behind the scenes. The next time the Public Gardens host an open house, you too can get a taste of the tropics.

Flowering Crassula ovata (Jade plant) in the greenhouse of the Halifax Public Gardens.

It may be grey and lifeless outside, but inside the display house at the gardens things are humming along.

Hibiscus in the greenhouse at the Halifax Public Gardens.

Just a little tease for those of us lucky enough to be going to the tropics soon... Brazil anyone?

Strelitzia (Birds of paradise) and Solenostemon (Coleus) in the display house at the Halifax Public Gardens.

The aptly named birds of paradise (Strelitzia)!

Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia) in the greenhouse at the Halifax Public Gardens.

The "buena noche" (Christmas Eve) plant became a Christmas tradition after a miracle, which occurred when a poor Mexican girl's offering of a weed bouquet on Christmas eve turned into the flowers we know today as Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). It is actually a small tree or large shrub in its native Mexico.

 Thank you all for taking the time to follow these weekly photo tours, and for the encouraging comments and emails. As the Gardens are closing , I will only be posting photos once a month until the Gardens re-open on April 12, 2012.

As a volunteer (and board member) of the Friends of the Public Gardens, I invite you to join our membership (and to volunteer, the pay isn’t great but the perks are inspiring!).  It’s the best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Don’t forget to head down to Horticultural Hall on December 15 from 5-7 PM to join us in celebrating the holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous holiday season to all!

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