Equinox

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?

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26 thoughts on “Equinox

  1. Lyn

    Here we’ve just had the Spring equinox, and everything is new and fresh and, well, springing. Yesterday we had the windows open all day, which was lovely. Your rowan berries against that deep blue Autumn sky are also beautiful. Every season has its charms.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      HAH! Grrrr. Have just closed windows and central heating has come on. Am going to switch off heating on grounds that it’s silly and find big jumper. Grrrr.

      No, you are right – every season has good things. And bad ones, even spring (I’m just jealous)…

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Wind just starting up here. Rains not yet, but am about to go out and that usually brings them on a treat…. I need to weed, and yesterday, when it was lovely, I had to work. Boo hoo!

      Reply
  2. Christina

    All this talk of the equinox and stoves is almost making me regret the change in season; September has been much cooler than usual but I’ve been relieved and happy about that. Do you harvest the saffron from your Crocus? Mine aren’t quite flowering yet but the foliage is there so it won’t be long. Christina

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I hadn’t really thought about harvesting the saffron – I’d assumed it wasn’t the right one, but I’ve no grounds for that assumption whatsoever and am going to research it immediately.

      Despite my moaning, I rather like autumn. And even winter, though you won’t catch me admitting that very often.

      Reply
  3. paulinemulligan

    You mentioned storms coming with the equinox, they have arrived down here, very strong winds indeed and torrential rain all night and this morning. I was weeding and digging yesterday and the soil was bone dry, unbelievable after our wet summer, just shows what 3 weeks without rain can do. So far we have put off lighting the wood burner, but I think today might be different.
    Nearly all the berries have been eaten on our Cotoneaster horizontalis, don’t the blackbirds know that they should save them for later when its freezing!!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I think they’re on their way to us. It’s getting windier and the sky over the sea has taken on that dead white look which always means that it’s time to get your washing in… I really need to weed, too, but am inundated with work. My iris bed looks appalling, and the rest isn’t much better. Ah – I think I can just hear the first drops of rain… it’s a lot colder, too.

      I just noticed my cotoneaster is similarly bare – never seen that before!

      Reply
  4. Crystal

    The time when storms brew up. Yes, I think you’ve got that right. Don’t worry about the weeds, they’ll be easier to pull up after the rain anyway. And if the winds are as strong as they say, any weed seeds will be blown out to sea.
    I’ve got Colchicums just coming into bloom, no Cyclamen yet though.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s getting quite strange out there now – and the wind has died right back. Al sincerely hoping you’re right about the weeds!

      It’s the other way with me – cyclamen first, colchicums later. At least that’s happened as usual this year…

      Reply
  5. Cathy

    What a lot we learn from gardening blogs – the French Republican calendar and talk of crococide. Is it a guillotinable offence? Get your knitting out!
    It is so interesting sharing responses to others’ gardens and our own – it often makes us see things in a different light altogether. Oh, and in the UK Midlands we have had lightish rain all afternoon, but no sign of wind or storm yet.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I think it should be!

      Mind you, given today’s weather – am building Ark and trying to find Next Door’s Cat to go in it – I don’t think it would have made much of a difference whether I’d trodden on them or not. They’re flat now. Sniff.

      Reply
  6. wellywoman

    I’m still in denial that it’s autumn and I simply refuse to light the fire in September. I know I will have to accept the fact soon but I really hate seeing signs like ’14 weeks to Christmas’ ( in a shop in town). I think I want to be an ostrich. Gorgeous flowers though and I know there are aspects of autumn I love. I’m just a bit grumpy we haven’t had an Indian summer. 😉

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I’m with you. Small chocolate snowmen should be prohibited in shops until after November 11, grr. And don’t get me on to garden centres turning into Feckin’ Grottoes just at the best planting time, either. I don’t want plastic wreathes, I want real plants!!!

      (You may have gathered that I’m a little on the grumpy side too.)

      Reply
  7. patientgardener

    Arh the joy of power tools or not. Every weekend recently my gardening has been disturbed by one or other of my male neighbours wielding one form or other of power tool. It is all ridiculous really given the size of the gardens round here, what they find to shred, strim or prune is beyond me. And now the woodburning stoves have been lit so we are stunk out as well. I am sure there should be some rules about how tall the chimneys should be so the smoke gets pulled up. There are alot being installed around us on modern houses without chimneys. For some reason so far the mists and mellowness of Autumn seems to be eluding me instead it is noise and stench – ho hum hopefully once the temperature drops a little more the power tools will retreat indoors and its just the smelly stoves we have to put up with.

    But if I get up early enough I too can enjoy my cyclamen and colchicums. I must get some Autumn crocus to add to the display

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s a man thing. My strimmer is bigger than your strimmer, you know; I can make more noise in an urban area than you can.

      I’m probably being desperately unfair (I think I can hear P growling), and of course all men aren’t like that and some women are, but, on average, give a bloke a chainsaw and he immediately turns into some lunatic mountain man and starts wearing dubious checked shirts (please, no banjos). Even one of the dearest, most delightful, most un-macho among my male friends used to do that. Reasonable one minute, next minute hanging out of trees by his teeth and trying to chainsaw the branch he was hanging from. Never mind, soon they’ll have power-tooled everything they can and will disappear…

      I thought there were regulations on flue heights for stoves? When I had my stove installed the guys who did it were really particular – or maybe they just have to be a certain height to work properly? That could explain some of the stench, I guess.

      Reply
  8. elaine

    It has been an absolute stinker of a day today – rain, rain and more rain. Yesterday was heavenly – so glad I stayed outside all day doing clear-up stuff. You really do have to make hay while the sun shines don’t you. The beloved is snoring in front of the wood burning stove at the moment – a sure sign of things to come. So glad we oiled the garden furniture and put it away for the winter. We had our first load of logs delivered yesterday – whew just in time I reckon.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Today’s a bastard day and I think we’re in for more. I can’t tell what the garden is doing at the moment as I can’t actually see it for steamed up windows and rain. You are so right – but do you think the sun will shine soon? Please?

      Reply
  9. Dobby

    Autumn is the season I like best. I love the colours. Your marigolds are magnificent.
    We had better tell patientgardener not to move to rural north Wales seeing as most houses have either wood burning stoves or open fires. Mine is well and truly lit!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I like autumn too, but this is more, er, monsoon. Cold monsoon.

      I imagine stoves are much more irritating in urban/built up areas, and I worry slightly about where all this wood is coming from. Some of my London friends have just got a woodburner, and when they told me what they were paying for wood I was gobsmacked (and there’s not enough urban decay any more to provide them with timber to forage). Or maybe people are burning anthracite? That stinks.

      Reply
  10. Janet/Plantaliscious

    Embrace the pink – it’ll be a Tamarix next 😉 I have chainsaw envy – we’ve settled on a reciprocating saw instead as being slightly safer in our novice hands and more widely useful. Love your autumn crocuses (croci?), I really must plant some for next year. Sorry about your strimmer, I hate the things, the cord thingie always snaps, so its “strim strim strim curse replace” repeated ad nauseum. Enjoy your fires, we have yet to get our chimney checked, but the brother-in-law arrives tomorrow and I doubt we will be able to stop him giving a fire a go…

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Noooooo…. tamarix is definitely out. There’s one near the pub and it will not do…

      I’m now thinking – oh, well, perhaps I’d better not say anything. Every time I do, I end up changing my mind!

      Reply
  11. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    Just add to add my grrrr here, I can (mostly) cope with the noise of powertools – but I absolutely cannot cope with the stench of stinky anthracite. It is the MOST glorious Autumn day, the sun is shining, its positively warm (ish) outside and a near neighbour lit their fire at 9 oclock this morning, currently the stinky smoke is pooling in my garden so badly it has driven me indoors grrrr again
    😦
    K

    Reply

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