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The local kids have gone trotting out through the gate with happy, smiling faces and their pockets full of incipient sugar diabetes. Some costumes were sketchy, seeming to consist mainly of black bin bags but most showed considerable thought and authentically gory cosmetics. The wearers appeared to need the services of a hospital, rather than a confectioner. Some years ago, Basil beat me to answering the front door on Halloween. He was dressed in his customary grungy gear, accessorised for the occasion with a full face gas mask and he wielded a large plastic knife, which glinted realistically in the fitful light of my Jack o’ lantern. His cutlery played the “skreek skreek skreek” of the Psycho shower scene when a hidden button was pressed, which it was. More than I thought essential.
Hedychium flavum (yellow butterfly ginger)
Hedychium flavum (yellow butterfly ginger)

The child standing outside was given a good fright and headed back down the garden path, sprinkling urine as he ran. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the acid retards moss which grows between the block paving. Unfortunately, his batman cape caught in the thorns of the rose on the corner, causing a piddle puddle to form while his mother and I untangled him. It cost me a lot of chocolate to placate the erstwhile superhero and in my opinion, his parent looked in need of a stiff drink. I forbad my boy from giving the willies to any more tiny tots and told him to save it for putting the wind up teenagers, who like that sort of thing. The next day, I dug up the rose bush, since unlike my son, I am a humanitarian at heart.
Dahlia “Nuit d'ete”
Dahlia “Nuit d’ete”

The start of November heralds the wholesale removal of anything tender to a frost-proof billet. I’ve chopped off most of the stems of the scented leaved geraniums and summer flowering Pelargoniums and since the floor gets cold, I have stashed them on shelves in the conservatory. From now on they require a bare minimum of water, until they are ready for fresh soil, in spring. The potted Auriculas are alpines and although hardy, furiously resent getting waterlogged. Since winter brings rain in near monsoon quantities to my town, I store them outdoors off the ground, on a windowsill. If I keep pruning, Dahlias will bloom until the first real freeze cuts them down to brown mush overnight. Only then will I enlist Attila to help dig them up for garage storage until April.
Yellow basket before the storm
Yellow basket before the storm

Having served its purpose, the pumpkin has been consigned to the compost heap. I’ve tried cooking it in the past but the flavour of wax candle is all pervasive and does little to improve either texture or flavour, notwithstanding the addition of industrial amounts of chilli. Since my heap never gets hot enough to steam, it doesn’t kill anything really tough. The seeds from last year’s scary sculpture germinated in the hot box and gave the courgettes a run for their money. Until I worked out where the huge hairy leaves had come from, I was convinced that triffids had taken root. Now that’s a terrifying thought.

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