End of the month view – September 2011

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…


18 Comments Add yours

  1. patientgardener says:

    I bet you were pleased with yourself when you had strimmed the meadow, a job very well done. I am finding the whole combination of autumn foliage and high temperatures confusing.
    Thank you for joinining in again this month

    1. Kate says:

      Pleased and completely wrecked… and, as always, a bit sad. Reminds me why I have a meadow – just an expanse of tatty grass now. Have to keep thinking that underneath the tattiness all sorts of fab plants are working away…

  2. Christina says:

    I’m glad you’re having a wonderfull September, weather-wise, we are having the best September since we came here 8 years ago. We spent today enjoying the sunshine on a nearish beach – not as near as you are to the sea. How wonderful to be able to see the sea from your garden. Christina

    1. Kate says:

      It’s certainly ended well, anyway – got loads of things done! Beaches are wonderful, but there’s a downside – the wind. And the salt…

  3. Dobby says:

    Autumn is my favourite season for colour. Watching the hills and mountains on this side of the bay change hue is amazing. So very textural (is that a word?) Well done on all your hard work. I think you deserve a long hot bath and a large glass of wine!

    1. Kate says:

      Mine too – wonderful… our woods are just beginning to go, too – well, that’s in addition to the browning caused by the wind, of course!

  4. Mo says:

    You’ve been busy! I feel exhausted just reading about it all 🙂

    1. Kate says:

      And it continues… gasp… it’s that time of year…..

  5. hillwards says:

    Wow, hot hard work in this heatwave, but definitely better than strimming in the rain! It must feel great to have the meadow shorn (despite the slight sadness).
    What an amazing tree. And lovely tapestry of autumn colours, although slightly strange to see autumn leaves beside blooms that we associate with spring and summer! Strange strange season, but I’m loving every minute of the sunshine.

    1. Kate says:

      It’s bonkers, isn’t it? I’d wondered about ‘haf bach mihangel’ – little michaelmas summer, I suppose – but know I know what it means.

      Mind you, bit of a change now – guess I made hay while the sun shone!

  6. Hi Kate, impressive strimming job – I HATE strimming, the thread thing always snaps just as I am getting going. Must be wonderful to have such a neatly tamed tree, it takes such skill to do something like that well. And a sea view? Perfect! Love the gingko, amazing colour.

    1. Kate says:

      I made sure I’d got plenty of line before I started this time – I know that feeling only too well! I’m soooo pleased with the tree – some tree surgeons are a bit more like tree butchers, but this one was rather Tolkienian in his concern for the tree (he kept patting it when he came round to estimate, so I thought he’d be good)!

  7. Lyn says:

    hi Kate, I really like the look of your place and the setting! The meadow must be a joy in spring.

    1. Kate says:

      Oh, it’s magnificent then – loads of bulbs and primroses and frittilaries. Keep telling myself that a I look out on bleak expanse of scalped grass. (It looks like it’s had a No. 1 clip at the barbers!)

  8. Christina says:

    Hi Kate you visited my blog lately and I wanted to stop by yours to see what you are up to! I love the shots with the autumn colors and I am very impressed by the size of your vegetable garden. I always admire people, who grow their own food. I focus mostly on ornamental plants, especially roses, in my small suburban lot, but I intend to sow some lettuce very soon. In San Diego, California, where I am located, now is the time to do it, just in case you wonder :-)!

    1. Kate says:

      Hi Christina – and that’s what I love about garden blogs, knowing that somewhere, someone just as enthusiastic about gardening is doing something I would like to be doing – planting lettuce (sigh). In the meanwhile, I am tying everything down and looking forward to eating kale for months!

  9. You have been busy Kate – and having popped around today I have to say that the Cedar tree looks beautiful. Your tree surgeon did a fantastic job – and it has lifted that whole area of the garden.

    1. Kate says:

      I have been, but it seems like not much to show for it except a stripped garden! Wait till next spring, that’s what I’m telling myself…

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