It maybe mid winter, and the snow has been deep and crisp and even, but it is always cheery when the shortest day is over.
In the northern hemisphere, the 21st of December is the longest night and the winter solstice. The word comes from the Latin, meaning sun stands still, or stoppage, and so named because the sun is at the lowest point in the sky and it's noontime elevation appears in the same point for several days, as if it had stopped.
After the winter Solstice the days lengthen by about 3 mins a day and so we know that we have turned the corner on the year.
The forecast for the next few days, after possibly some more snow, is for the weather to be much milder. Most gardeners haven't been anywhere near the garden during this cold spell and now is a chance to get out there and work off some of the Christmas excess. Gardening can burn up to 300-500 calories and there are plenty of jobs to be done.
When the snow has melted check the lawn for any remaining autumn leaves and clear them off as they damage the lawn. If, like the Sunday Gardener, you were taken by surprise with the early snow and didn't get to clear up in the garden before the snow now is a good time to go out and clear up. Many of the herbaceous plants will be a soggy brown mess when the snow goes and its time to remove and clear up dead foliage and even some weeds. The more you get now the less in the spring.
Also, it's not too late to mulch as more cold spells will surely lie ahead. Check out the Sunday Gardener's December Calendar for more tips on what to do in the garden now.