Sigh. It’s the turning of the year, the autumn equinox. The time when storms brew up. Or not, perhaps.
Hopefully – though the weather forecast seems a little ominous.
It’s certainly a lot colder, and that means it’s time for all sorts of routine tasks. First comes the ritual Great September Strim, and my strimmer packed up halfway through the meadow. It’s not a huge or particularly powerful one, so I was being optimistic, but I’ve done it before a little at a time and it’s always been OK. This time it started emitting clouds of smoke, and so did I; time to call in the big boys, or rather P and his big petrol strimmer. It’s the season of mists and mellow power tools, after all, the time of year when they really come into their own. We played with a chainsaw last week, and only just in time.
The stove’s been lit once, and I have a feeling the equinox will be celebrated by a second lighting tonight. Brr.
But the light in the garden these crisp, chilly mornings is just wonderful, and the partly-shorn state of the meadow does have some advantages. There are still a lot of insects zooming about, everything’s getting a good chance to set seed, and there are lots of cobwebs strung between the dry standing stems.
The Rosa rugosa hedges are laden with huge, fat, garnet-red rosehips and there are still plenty of berries on the rowan. Mine is an orange-berried tree and for some reason those always seem to go before the red berries, but this year is different. No idea why; I’m just putting it down to this being an odd year. Again.
While I was photographing this, I turned round and realised that the season really has changed. The autumn crocuses are out, and appearing so quickly I swear that I can see them grow. One moment I pop out of the house and there’s bare grass; the next time I walk round the corner there’s a slender spike about a centimetre tall – just a hint of crocus. The next time, it’s in flower…
I do love them. Perhaps it’s another instance of my obsession with all things stripy? As we’re a bit late with the meadow strim (again), the autumn crocuses are confined to the area near the wall opposite the dining room window which is always cut back early on, as soon as the fritillaries have set seed. Given this, I’m not sure how I’d failed to spot them before I nearly trod them into the ground, but at least I managed to stop myself committing crocicide in time.
And as if those weren’t enough as a harbinger of seasonal change, there are cyclamen popping up. I don’t seem to have any on the actual steps this year (or perhaps I should add a ‘yet’), but there are clumps of them in one slightly secluded little patch, one which is always a little ignored, where two hedges almost meet. And when you walk along the kitchen path, they’re at eye level.
I’m reluctant to clear this patch in case I disturb them, but a honeysuckle has decided to link the two hedges so I’m going to have to do something. And there are double snowdrops here in spring, too.
There are still a few of the summer flowers hanging on in there – in fact, more than a few, though they are generally beginning to look a little tired.
The hollyhock has been lovely, even if it’s not what I was expecting – it’s very pink for a black flower – and there are some very promising seedlings for next year. I wonder if they’ll come up black? I’m not sure that I care; I’ve reconciled myself to the dusky pink (and I never thought I’d say that). And if I do feel a little chilly, I can always warm my hands by the marigolds:
Elsewhere, the freezers are filling up at last. The French Republican calendar started on the equinox, the first day of Vendémaire (named after the Latin for ‘grape harvest’). It’s certainly a time of harvest for me, especially in the greenhouse where the tomatoes are going bonkers. Such a relief – I was beginning to doubt my veggie-growing credentials.
Mind you, I’m still avoiding looking at the beetroot (If I can’t see them, I don’t have to acknowledge the disappointment) and the courgettes and squashes were a disaster. Though I do have one squash which has just decided to do its thing. Now?