Friday, 12 October 2012

Coming back to the blog (and the garden)

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.

33 comments:

  1. and oh what a glorious view it is!
    We have had lots of blossom, I wonder if we will have plums this year. My Prunus nigra, planted for the dark leaves, has a happy crop of little 'cherries'.

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    1. Last year we had a fabulous plum crop and damsons too. We had a very cold spell when the stone fruit was in flower which might have been the problem.

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  2. Oh yes Elizabeth; I will indeed marvel at your view. There are many details in this october post of yours which caught my attention; I thought about the carpets of wild cyclamen, both pink and white, which cover our wooded countryside, the glossy rosehips everywhere which never lose their vivid charm. I also smiled at your shepherd's hut as one of my dearest dreams is to own a gypsy caravan, and to have it surrounded by snowdrops and crocus in spring. What a wonderful vision to cling onto during the depths of winter. Shudder... :-)

    Stephanie

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    1. I am really not a winter person but I am trying to persuade myself that with the stove burning and knitting and writing to do it won't be so bad!

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  3. Lovely view, enjoyed the reflecting . . . love the hedge hips . . . wish I had some cuttings for fall bouquets . . .

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    1. The rosehips are fantastic aren't they? I feel I should do something with them but also love to leave them as long as I can.

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  4. Amelanchiers ... Wonderful and with dogwoods too, that sounds great. I love Amelanchier, believe it or not I have one here, but it is in the compost heap corner, so no one notices it much apart from me and the birds. I am SO excited to hear more about your 6 foot swath of ornamental grasses. Still lots of glorious Autumn colour in your garden Elizabeth, just lovely.
    K
    xx

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    1. I think I need to consult you about the grasses Karen!

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  5. Apples with bitter pit - don't burn them, eat them! (tho you may want to peel them first!).

    http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=607

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    1. Thanks Nick! Had not understood the nature of the beast until now.

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  6. What a view. Stunning.
    Love Love Love the Shepherd's cottage. I have been searching for ideas for guest house(room) to put on our land. This is just what I had in mind. May I save (or pin) the photo?

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    1. Absolutely, do pin the photo. The shepherd's hut is a rare and wonderful thing! Not sure how I managed without it.

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  7. Your expanse is so inspiring, but it must be daunting as well, some days. But an orchard! How fabulous! Every fall I say that we must squeeze a few fruit trees in, and every fall we miss. Still, I've got it on the to-do list this year, and maybe it really will happen. . .

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    1. It's only a very small orchard - eight trees: two apples, one plum, one damson, a cherry, a quince and two mulberries. All still pretty small bar the apples which were there already but now beginning to look like trees not sticks!

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  8. Your meadow is inspiration for me. We have a meadow that is just left and it looks pretty ragged. Perhaps a swathe of grass at the entrance.....
    Our apple trees are a sad sight this year. The deer have all but killed the smallest, and even the mature trees took a beating.

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    1. At least we don't have deer to contend with!

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  9. I love that shepherd hut. We have a lean-to shed which Dylan and I use for 'sleepovers' - last night included. There is something special about camping out, even if only in your garden.

    Just back from tutoring a course at Ty Newydd - went superbly, but I'm exhausted!

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    1. I agree about the camping out! In fact we were going to sleep in the shepherd's hut tonight but I must admit that with the dark and the rain outside and the woodburner cosy inside, the adventurous urge is beginning to wane.

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  10. Sounds as if you might be intending to test mowing and removing grass from your meadow where it isn't annual meadow? I do hope so - so sad you came just as ours was at its one low time. I think it's possible that's ancient pasture and could be very rewarding environmentally and floriferously. (is that a word?!)And give you useful mulch for your orchard.

    I'll be fascinated to hear what becomes of your annual meadow too. Derry Watkins of Special Plants had a small one which was a disaster this year for weeds.(real unpleasant weeds!) She believes that it's because she's done it on the same spot for too long. We clearly have a lot to learn yet from all these pictorial/annual meadows.

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    1. We are going to go for something which is either an exciting new idea or a pointless mismash, depending on your perspective and on how it turns out: some large perennial grasses as you go in, leaving most of the meadow to do its own thing to see what we have, with some areas resown with annual seeds where the fire sites have been in winter, just because I love the zing of the poppies. we will see...

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  11. I think the Cyclamen take a lot longer to get going than snowdrops do. I started with 3 and I'm overjoyed at seeing 8 (yes 8!) this year after about 7 years. Having said that I'm concerned I'm not helping by letting the autumn leaves pile on top of them and I'm always amazed that they come back each year. The flowers are spread out quite a bit this year, so they're definitely spreading. I must remember to push their seedheads into the soil after flowering to give mother nature a hand this time...

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    1. Good reminder VP! I will try to do the same.

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  12. Such beautiful views, and I think your autumn garden looks far from dull.
    I only have a handful of autumn cyclamen in a pot, one day I must take the plunge and put them in the ground to take their chances.

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    1. The views are a big part of the garden! I can't take any credit for them though!

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  13. Just looking at your garden makes me feel as if I've been on vacation. Thank you!

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  14. I love your choice of words 'tipping' towards its end. I may have to borrow that. Still I just think you have a wonderful garden and this year it has grown a shepherd's hut which is still in full flower. Yes, it hasn't been a good year for fruit, but we must be grateful for what there is and thankful that whether we have enough to eat or not doesn't depend on the vagaries of the weather and plant diseases. You know that your six sad damsons are not the result of the shepherd's hut and therefore that your neighbours won't insist that you burn it or burn you or dance naked on midsummer eve. Damson jam will taste all the better next year.

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  15. What an idyllic vision of autumn... and I love the idea of amelanchiers by the shepherd's hut, which is looking juts perfect. I also like the sound of your meadow plans - very interesting, shading into natural regrowth with planted grasses....

    Congratulations on getting ANY apples (and a Howgate Wonder, too - one of my favourites. Sigh.)

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  16. Missed this. Those hips are looking glorious ... I do hope you're harvesting them for something jolly and healthful like rosehip syrup, or better, wine!

    We gave the quince day at Little Norton Priory a miss this year due to the link of quinces, last year I made sooo much quince jelly, this year, none!

    I haven't forgotten that meet up we keep saying we must arrange, but I don't seem to have a free day in my diary just now. Still, at least my maxillofacial appointment has finally come through, so I might know more about the knitter's retreat soon :)

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  17. Very nice, thanks for the information.

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  18. I love the idea of a dense planting of ornamental grasses giving way to the wildness of a meadow, will look forward to seeing it. Your shepherd's hut looks wonderful, and the planting will bed it in beautifully. I imagine it must be a little like us curling up in the camper van, though more snug with the wood burner. A perfect retreat. I think rosa rugosa is one of my favourite plants, though a little challenging on the prickles side. I am hoping to plant some bare rooted white ones this autumn/winter, assuming I can get around to it. Cyclamen are one of the things I am looking forward to establishing once I get enough basic structure in place to know where to plant bulbs. Hope next year is a better year for fruit, but your orchard definitely starts to look like one, and will provide wonderful presence in a few years. Am trying not to be envious ;-)

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  19. What a beautiful garden you have.

    Our little area of unmown "meadow" has only native grasses and flowers and each year there is something different, introduced by the birds or the wind.

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  20. Oh, how perfectly lovely it all looks. How I love (and don't have) a view.

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  21. Loved this end-of-the-summer photo tour, although I am already dreading the arrival of another bitter winter in Seoul, and this reminds me that it's on the way. The shepherd's hut is a wonderful idea - I always loved the idea of a private getaway when I was a child, and have never really outgrown it. It will be nice to imagine you working away there cozily when the cold winter winds are blowing.

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