A busy time with my parents staying and work to do. I look up and find I haven't blogged for nearly a fortnight and I have missed the September End of Month view which I have been trying to keep going, now in its second year and massively useful when it comes to winter thinking about the garden. I have had a bit of a lull with the garden but find myself being gently tugged back again. I have ordered bulbs and some bare rooted plants to define the corner where the shepherd's hut goes and I find myself mulling things over again. It looks as if the spell is not broken.
So here is a mix of musing and pictures for October.
The sun comes up on a chill October morning. I shall cut back the wild rose which is growing on top of the wall outside the kitchen door but not just yet, not while the rosehips are shining.
The side garden has gone over now. I know it is possible to have a garden which still sings in October (see Karen!) but although mine now has a small revival in September instead of subsiding in August into a dullness which lasts until the following spring, it still sprawls and flops towards an autumn standstill.
The fennel is falling over and michaelmas daisies are just about the only thing still in flower. I quite like the business of putting the garden to bed but it is too soon to pull up the cosmos and rudbeckia and cut back the wonky shasta daisies. There are still insects buzzing around them although their flowers are tatty by now. This is also the time of year when I should have lots of hardy cyclamen coming up under the trees. I don't know how many I have planted, in fact I am embarrassed to think, but I now have two flowering away. It might be time to let them take their chance and establish or not, as they will.
It is getting closer and closer to a time when calling our fruit trees "the orchard" won't seem like pretentious overkill. It has been a bad year for fruit this year: no plums, no quinces, six sad little damsons and not many pears. Even this tree, which looks ok in the photo, has a much reduced crop of Howgate Wonder apples, but then it is normally bowed to the ground with fruit the size of a baby's head. This year they look more normal sized and some of them have what I think is bitter pit. I am intending to remove those and burn them. Is that the right course of action, does anyone know?
The cutting garden is tipping towards its end. There are still some rudbeckia and some brave dahlias but the sweetpeas are waiting to be lifted. I went away to Devon and then to Nant Gwrtheyrn and stopped cutting them and they all went to seed in a great rush. Another job for the weekend if I have time.
Quite the best thing in the garden just now are the rosa rugosa hips in the edible hedges.
The shepherd's hut is settling nicely into its corner. I have ordered bare rooted amelanchiers and dogwoods to curve alongside it, with bulbs at their feet, perhaps crocus and snowdrops for spring and cyclamen for autumn. I love the hut. It is working just fine. It is far enough from the house to provide a real sense of being by myself and heats up quickly with the woodburning stove to be snug as the days grow colder. From time to time we sleep in it as a change from home. I love that. I love the dark and the total quiet. I will love it even more when it has its new planting alongside, if that is possible!
The meadow is waiting for the scythe. I have thought about its future long and hard for months. I loved some parts of the annual meadow for their vibrancy and sheer shots of colour but it didn't all work like that. Some of it had way too much grass and docks and hogweed in it. And, as Anne Wareham rightly said, it wasn't big enough. So I think next year we shall leave a much bigger area uncut. At one end I intend to plant almost an entrance of tall grasses: stipa, miscanthus, perhaps molinia in a swathe about six foot wide. Beyond them the natural meadow will take over and we will see what germinates from this year's seeds. I might supplement them with naturalised daffodils, not obvallaris, the Tenby daffodil, which grows in the orchard but pseudonarcissus, Wordsworth's dancing daffodil. They have more movement than the Tenby and might work better in a swathe, as these will be, rather than around trees. And here and there, out of curiosity and reluctance to let go of red and orange poppies, I shall sow some annual seeds on a winter fire site and see what happens.
And if it doesn't work you can always turn your back on it, come through by the end of the holiday cottage and stand here and look at the view.