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At this latitude, evening sets in early. In my younger days, I threatened to acquire a miner’s helmet with a lamp on the front, so that I could carry on weeding once darkness had descended, around mid afternoon. Now I am of an age where if I scuttle around the soggy ground in cold conditions, my knees crack and joints groan until I sound like a one woman jazz band. Autumn seems to be the shortest season. Perhaps I’m in denial as the colours come in but I think that the leaves leave quickly.
Hedychium flavum (butterfly ginger) in the conservatory
Hedychium flavum (butterfly ginger) in the conservatory

The first frost has cut the Dahlias down to brown. Interminable rain has followed, rendering the ground squelchy and uncomfortably icy. I need a day of rare seasonal sunshine for me to cut off the shrivelled foliage and blasted blossom. Thereafter, Attila may be talked into disinterring the tubers and sending them into frost proof boxes in the garage for winter storage. Since I garden on sand, I don’t wash them off, dry them out or dust with sulphur powder to deter mould. One day I may regret this but I’m pushing my luck with the digging and ferrying; it’s my spouse who deserves the massage with soothing unguents, not the plants.
Pear, cherry and autumn sky
Pear, cherry and autumn sky

Learning that the last green bin of the year will be collected in two weeks really concentrates the mind. The news has been sprinkled with a heads up for the largest supermoon since 1948, thereby guaranteeing an impenetrable overcast sky. If the clouds ever empty, astronomical events will have ceased, the clear up can commence and the litter will be seasoned with swarf from the neighbour’s rockets and roman candles. Viburnum opulus “Roseum” (snowball bush) needs a comprehensive thrashing, to keep it within bounds. The council may have the care of the branch and stick prunings. Great drifts of bright debris from Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston creeper) can go onto the compost heap, along with the sodden remains of the perennials. I’m not looking forward to clearing the dead lilies from the pond, since the fish have made the water temperature obvious with their chilly expressions. Koi carp have a way of holding their mouths that reminds me of an early headmistress, when I had done something really reprehensible.

Pieris forrestii “Forest Flame”

Pieris forrestii “Forest Flame”

When I’m not walking around the garden thinking about jobs I really ought to be doing, I sit indoors fiddling with textiles, preferably beside a crackling log fire. This is a great time to mull over summer intentions, dreaming of lazing in the heat with a cool drink and idly contemplating where you left the tube of sun block. Of course, gardeners can ponder planting plans and design improvements. Botanical Barbara gave me a crown prince squash, delicious when roasted with olive oil, pepper and salt. After scooping out the insides, I have a glistening heap of golden seeds. I may reconsider the hot box, after this year’s disappointing crop of a single malformed courgette. Perhaps pumpkins hold the answer.

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