There’s no doubt about it, autumn has snuck up on this garden. Well, not so much ‘snuck up’ as arrived with a vengeance. The rowan has already lost a lot of its leaves,
and the paths are slippery with berries, but it’s still a little bit patchy. Some parts of the garden think it’s summer – the beans which are normally over by the end of June (Cobra) are in full production – and others are convinced its spring: the Echinops ritro has another burst of flower spikes coming, for example. There are even magnolias in flower in the next village, though mine at least seems to know what time of year it is. Very confusing.
The major change over the last month has been the loss of the big cedar, and I am just about getting used to walking round the corner of the house and seeing the view.
That’s once I’ve finished skidding on rowan berries, of course.
It has changed the middle garden profoundly. I anticipated that, but I hadn’t anticipated quite how it would change it. The bed in the middle, which I’d expanded in size and which worked well when the tree was there, now looks ridiculous: ‘a tom tit on a round of beef’ I think is the expression. It’s nowhere near big enough.
This garden is the ‘practical’ garden. It’s the flattest of the three levels; it’s where the big picnic bench is, where the washing line is strung from the house to the old ty bach, where barbecues happen and snowdrops cover the grass in February (OK, that’s not practical, but it is a factor). The tree provided a counter-balance to the ash and gave a sense of enclosure which the garden no longer has. I don’t miss it, exactly – I like my neighbours, and I’ve been waving to them – but it’s not as comfortable as it was. I need to address this somehow and get back that sense of balance, and I’m not sure how. I was going to plant something like a tamarix where the huge hebe/tree combo stood, and then I wasn’t: I liked the openness. But I’m returning to the idea, I think, as much for that elusive balance as anything else. A feathery tamarix would cope with the weather, not interfere with the view or communication with the neighbours, but provide a stop, a definite something, a boundary, albeit a permeable one… Still thinking this through.
And then this needs expanding:
It needs weeding as well, but don’t look (silly workload at the moment). In here are – apart from the brown lily, see what the last week’s weather has done to my beauties, grr – a whole load of tulips, gathered from all sorts of pots and places where they no longer fit. I’m hoping for an insane riot of colour come the spring, but I’ll probably just get a load of old leaves. So it’s going to increase (carefully) in size, allowing for the huge clumps of double snowdrops that appear on its seaward side, and then I’ll do something interesting with it. I’ve started thinking herbs, but we shall see.
There should be sunflowers here, too. I thought not, and then I noticed this…
which suddenly turned into this:
Not quite what I anticipated, and it doesn’t really go with the marigolds which are planted around it, but attractive nonetheless. I’ve had quite a few similar surprises this year. This month.
One of which has been the meadow. Flat by early August. The weather has just smashed it down, repeatedly, and there’s a limit to the number of times it can take that vigorous a level of assault and bounce back. It needs cutting, but I’m reluctant to do it too soon: I got it right last year, and there has been a huge increase in the number of daisies, umbellifers, vetches and orange hawkweed as a result. So I really do want them to set seed – I’m monitoring the hogweed particularly – and then I’ll strim it and let it lie before we go over it with P’s big industrial lawnmower. But in the meanwhile I’m living with this:
(photo taken very early, before work and before the sun was really high enough), which is irritating the socks off me every time I look out of the window.
And talking of irritation, since when were Japanese anemones a meadow flower?
Huh? I think NOT. It’s cute, but it’s coming out. Before it attracts too many of its friends (a couple have already moved in, and I’m coming over all NIMBY and Daily Mail about it – unedifying, but there you go).
This is also the month when my freezers normally start filling up. That’s a bit different this year, too. There are no spuds drying off and my onions rotted in the ground, but I am finally getting a bean crop though the runners haven’t started properly yet, and the beetroot are looking good. The apples are a joke – no glut for me this year – and though the raspberries look as though they’ll be impressive, I suspect I’ll have to race the mould. But the Japanese wineberries are scrummy:
and I manage to beat the birds to those, at least. And at last the tomatoes are ripening. My largest so far has been a Black Russian at 300g – and it was delicious, though nowhere near my half-kilo-for-a-single-tom record. I don’t normally go for the big veg thing, but the Black Russians do it anyway, so I just let them get on with it. I’ve also got some green peppers but I don’t think I’ll go with them again; they take up a lot of space and I’m blaming them for my whitefly outbreak.
At last I’m getting bees – everywhere. They’ve been enjoying the triffid (aka Angelica gigas), which is on its last legs and has proved to be a slug magnet as well as being phenomenally attractive to bees:
And they really love the monarda, now nearly over,
and so much so that I can sneak up on them with my camera and they flatly refuse to budge. But the lavender path / hedge / wilderness is the main focus. It is – sorry – a hive of activity, though individual flowers evidently need much less concentrated attention than the monarda does – the difference between settling down for a Sunday lunch and grabbing a quick bar snack, perhaps. Hive of activity indeed – now there’s a thought: I know a local beekeeper; I wonder if he’s looking for somewhere to plonk a hive?
You can hear the mass buzzing from quite a distance. Please, please, please let the temperatures stay warm enough for them to forage for a little while longer (and me too)…