At the beginning of August I was out of love with the garden - gaps, tired foliage, few flowers and those that were flowering ones I had lost interest in. This always happens. For some reason August is just not my time. Taking these pictures as September came in made me realise that I am engaged all over again.
Some of the individual plants are stars too. I have grown dahlias this year for the first time with some serious attempts to make them settle into my stony soil. Previously I have chucked the odd one and let it take its chance. This year I dug proper deep holes with compost in the bottom.
This is, I think, Dahlia Honka with its elegant, starred shape and finely curved petals. I have this one in white and in yellow and prefer whichever I am looking at at the time.
I need to find the name for this one, a Sarah Raven variety I think. The exploding saturated colour is fabulous. The plants themselves are half the size of the ones I used to grow in a rich clay soil but I think the flowers might be better. Next year I should have more of these varieties which are the ones I love and junk the ones that failed to satisfy. It is a hard world, gardening.
Here is the kitchen garden. The apples and pears are full of shoots and of some fruit. This is not the best place for fruit. The new orchard in the field is much more productive but I love the trees for themselves and for the flowers and although the trees are old we always get some decent apples. The pears are much more unreliable, sometimes barely fruiting at all and on other years weighed down with hard green fruit which ripens inside the house to a sensuous drippy sweetness. There were onions and salad vegetables in the two empty beds here earlier in the summer. I sowed rocket and spinach and kale and more beans a few weeks ago. There are tiny traces of new growth but nothing that could seriously be called a crop. I should know by now not to sow directly into the soil. It always works best here to sow in pots or lengths of guttering in the greenhouse or a coldframe and wait to plant out until the plants reach a decent size. I don't know whether it is the soil or the height at which we garden but seeds have a hard time of it when they are small.
This is the cutting garden, full of cosmos, echinacea, pinks, lavender and zinnias with three walls of sweetpeas. The sweetpeas are as always stunning. Individually each of the other flowers looks beautiful.
Next year I shall work harder at the design of the beds themselves. I wonder if blocks of colour would work better than stripes or whether a bed that mixed the evergreen and the foliage plants that I might use in bringing the flowers inside would be more satisfying to the eye than the rows of mainly annuals.
Elsewhere in the field there are apples in ludicrous quantities, and walnuts and rosehips on the new hedging. I have sent off a bulb order for more native daffodils for round the orchard trees and snowdrops to line the walk under the native trees which we put in three years ago. These are underplanted now with hollies and cornus. I want the path to shine with snowdrops and hellebores in the spring before it disappears back into the wildness of summer that comes with letting the grass grow long in this part of the garden.
There is a bright pink salvia too which I keep trying to take cuttings from to protect myself from its loss over winter. They keep turning up their toes. Is it too late? Are they getting too much sun in my bright greenhouse? Any suggestions gratefully received.
But mostly I love my garden again. It will always be a spring garden in its soul I think because that is what makes my soul sing. But it is beginning to be a place where the colours of autumn produce a counterpoint. I just wish I could exterminate the bindweed.