Intriguing, a proper month of Autumn, with sunshine, rain, deep early frosts, mist and a smell of folded vegetation surrendering to the earth. Wonderful dawns and spectacular sunsets and in the dappled sunlight of a mid afternoon the dust and spores floating, coming to rest on the fallen. It has been a beautiful month. So nature packs up for winter and we wrap up the garden. We clean and tidy, deliver debris to the compost heap, bravely trim the lawn to restore order (my goodness how defiant the rush of grass growth) and we check the things that we hope to save, to see that they are safely away from cold and wet.
On fair days we might dig, or seek out some manure to heap and hold in readiness for the spring. There are still bare root bits and pieces to plant, hedging plants and soft fruit, especially raspberries. The shed, garage and greenhouse can be given the once over for rodents, there have been so many and left over seed can be collected and stored in a tin away from all marauders. Even the odd snail will find his way to lose seeds. It’s worth checking around and cleaning up tools too, getting the barrow undercover, cleaning the rubbish off the mower. We all leave something out.
Then there is time for reflection, a week or two to ponder over the successes and failures and to begin our planning for the season ahead. It has been a testing year, but there have been moments of real joy and others of true frustration. I have not had such amazing cabbage for a long time, nor seen so many pigeons together in one small space. That’s how it is, the adventure, the tussle that is gardening. The hobby that is a celebration of nature’s capability and a record of our attempts at mastering it.
The new seed catalogues are around and the seed potatoes will be arriving within days. New varieties appear and old favourites just vanish. There are new tomatoes, still more petunias, every list boasts something and sometimes, something old gets a makeover. I am very excited to see the arrival of some rejuvenated varieties of antirrhinums. Butterfly antirrhinums draw me back to my childhood and in 2017 will be reborn.
And finally as I sit by the fire and continue with my reflections, I toast the close of a year and prepare to celebrate my families 70th year in Horticulture, I consider the new season and am still excited.