What a month. The weather could best be described as insane, ranging from amazingly, appallingly, flatten-the-garden windy to humid and subtropical, and about 10 degrees warmer than it ‘should’ be. And what with one thing and another – well, work: a request to produce 100 recipes for a TV tie-in cookbook in about a fortnight, argh – I don’t seem to have been in the garden that much. But the recipes are delivered, the weather is astonishing and I’ve been making up for my neglect.
I’ve been plying the strimmer.
Yup, it’s Great September Strim time, and the meadow is transformed:
So am I. I now have muscles like a navvy.
Despite that, it was worth it, and all it needs now is a good mowing in a couple of days. There’s just enough time for the seed to settle first.
I had to do it in two stages, I freely admit. But the weather was too much of a godsend to wait for P to come round with his giant petrol strimmer – and besides, I know my luck when it comes to meadow-strimming. All too often it’s taken place in either pouring rain or the teeth of a howling gale, or both. So a few days of fine weather coinciding with the glory of a met deadline, and I just had to see if the small strimmer could cope. It could, with rests while it cooled down, and so could I (cooling down necessary there too).
There has been another major change, but it’s been done so sensitively that it looks as though that’s how it’s always been. I have two huge Western Red Cedars, and one is close to the house. There should be no subsidence threat here, but it was shading the bedroom windows (anyone know M R James’ story The Ash Tree?) and needed attention. Attention from someone who had a real feeling for trees, too.
And yesterday it got it. The canopy has been lifted, increasing the light all round and revealing the elegantly swooping shape of the branches, and the dense overgrowth in the middle has been sorted out as well. It’s transformed the whole garden, and the tree of course…
It looks almost Mediterranean. Wonderful – especially now that my Mohican hedge has been de-Mohicaned and I can see the sea over the top of it when I stand near the cedar. Sigh.
Back to reality, I suppose. In all the cookbook chaos the veg garden got a little bit neglected but I think most things are puttering out anyway. Even the raspberries, which have been ravishing. Never had so many from such a small plot, and big fat berries, too.
I’ve harvested the last of the beets and courgettes, dug up the giant parsley patch of doom, planted out all the winter kale, sprouting broccoli and leeks (boy, am I going to be eating kale this winter). The runner beans have been particularly wonderful, and I’ve even remembered to leave a couple for next year’s seeds.
I am very, very impressed with them – they are Czar, and I can recommend them strongly. Delicious. Their only downside is that the flowers are white and cream rather than the glorious runner-bean red, but I can live with that – especially when they also seem to be the only bean in the entire garden which is unappealing to snails. I will be planting even more next year, unless my slugs and snails reassess their gastronomic preferences in the next few days.
Autumn has caught up with the bottom garden too. Even the containers are looking autumnal,
and I just love the colours. I find them really inspiring; they make me want to sort out all my stash of yarn and fleece, find my dye pot and get cracking trying to replicate some of them… Well, they would if I knew I’d achieve what I wanted – I usually end up with variations on a theme of khaki. What I really want are greens and golds and oranges and reds, terracottas and even that lovely pale jade of the pot. Ho hum.
And there’s more inspiration, of course.
The ginkgo is almost fluorescent against the dark of the camellias and the Portugal laurel.
It’s even more astonishing close up:
particularly against a backdrop of fabulous Russian kale (that’s just one of my kale patches, by the way – the others are less well on, and I hoping they’ll take me through into the spring). Now I want to knit something in gold and a dusty turquoise and a faded purple.
Finally, I’ve still got a few flowers, some enjoying a surprising second burst, like this rose:
I wonder how much longer they’ll last, and how much longer we’ll enjoy such lovely weather? All the better, in both cases, for being unexpected…