Cooler temperatures and blistery blustery Thursday have ensured that things in the garden are very much a changin’, but I for one have no objection. There is something about the seasonal changes at this time of year that brings out an instinctive urge to clear and tidy, to review and assess, to tweak and plan. Certain autumnal tasks are necessary rites of passage in my gardening calendar – sweeping leaves, clearing the cutting beds, pruning climbing roses, cutting back the less attractive remnants of herbaceous perennials….I may not be a fan of ‘housework’ but the gardening parallel is a very different thing altogether. There is an endless list of tasks to be done, and a clear (and – so far – dry) weekend will go a long way to ticking some of them off.
Judiciously timed (usually more by luck than judgement) sweeping of leaves can often be dealt with in a couple of blitzes over a period of a few weeks, especially when aided by an assertive breeze which conveniently blows them into corners and crannies. There is no noisy blowing or sucking of leaves here as I find the methodical sweeping meditative, almost therapeutic, although I do sometimes delegate the task of bagging up the swept piles to the Golfer.
Yes, and much as I like the greenness of the trees, who would want to miss their colourful metamorphosis, as demonstrated by the Acer griseum in the centre of the picture above, now changing rapidly through a spectrum of autumnal shades, complementing the peeling papery bark?
Likewise, the wisteria discards its finery but not before the veining on the leaves displays a contrasting skeletal framework, and I can also look forward to its imminent nakedness, starkly laid bare across the gable end of the house and begging for its winter pruning. Depending on our festive arrangements, I try to do this on Christmas Eve – only because there is no way I will not know what day this is!
The dahlias in the cutting beds were cut down after the frost last week blackened the foliage and lifted soon after, and in a strange way anticipating this outcome was a kind of pleasure in itself. After six months of flowering I knew their demise would be instant once temperatures dropped below zero, another defining point in the gardening calendar, just like leaf sweeping and pruning the wisteria, and once done the cutting beds can be fully cleared and tidied. I say fully cleared, but in truth I have had to shove some Brompton stock into one bed – finally releasing them from their cell trays in the greenhouse from which they have been bursting for weeks – because I don’t know where else to put them. Apart from the stocks and some still-healthy antirrhinum the cutting beds are now empty and I look forward to removing lingering stakes and supports and raking over the rest of the beds.
In anticipation of the upcoming snowdrop season I took advantage of one of the recent wet days to update my snowdrop records and today cut the foliage from the hellebores that share the bed to give a clear area to add a mulch of compost and leaf mould, my first task for tomorrow, weather permitting. Emptying the older of the two compost heaps (2018 vintage in this instance) is yet another seasonal rite of passage but far from my favourite, (particularly the nearer one gets to the bottom of the heap), although removing the top few shovelfuls of the black gold is always quite satisfying, considering the less than savoury original contents. The urgency of the task, however, increases in direct proportion to the overflowing of the 2019 heap….but I still might manage to put it off a while longer, after mulching the snowdrop border that is.
There may well be a never-ending list of tasks to be done, but it doesn’t stop my brain ticking over, reviewing and assessing, tweaking and planning, at the same time, and an unwary plant may suddenly find itself relocated or ousted without warning or apology. Almost on the spur of the moment parts of the woodland edge border have been rehashed and refreshed in the last couple of weeks, and on my rambles I have found myself pausing and observing parts of the bold borders for rather longer than the norm – so something is clearly brewing although I am not yet sure what is it is…time will tell in due course, and so will I…
For other Saturday Sixes, please visit Jon the Propagator who hosts this weekly meme.