Yesterday autumn roared in on a thundering wind, blowing over the bay tree, sending the wheelie bin rolling down the grass, filling the air with flying flowerpots. On the heels of the wind came a downpour which overflowed the gutters, set the land drains spouting, hammered on the slates and turned the paths to water. It was a day for staying in the warm kitchen.
Our bedroom faces east. When I woke up this morning the sun was pouring in and the sky was a vivid blue behind the ridge on the other side of the valley. Today has been a gold and blue day, the sun warm, the air still.
The crab apple is loaded down with fruit. This is malus Red Sentinel, planted to replace a little quince tree which slowly but surely lost the will to live. I kept trying to persuade myself that the quince would survive, even though it would shed a branch or two every time the wind blew strong. Eventually it split in two, falling open at its heart. The crab apple went in last autumn with some daffodils at its feet: Thalia, Jenny and Pheasant's Eye. I didn't really expect it to do much this year but it was covered in blossom in spring and laden down with fruit now.
I would make crab apple jelly except that I can't bear to pick the fruit. The sight of the little tree makes me smile every time I cross the grass.
The leaves are only just beginning to turn. First every year is this little black mulberry. The apple tree behind it is as dark and glossy leaved as ever but first this mulberry and then its white neighbour turn a buttery yellow.
The apple crop is as huge as ever. We have had wheelbarrowsfull from the Howgate Wonder, apples big as a baby's head. They are all hanging in plastic bags from hooks in the workshop roof. I always had visions of apples wrapped in paper, all lined out in wooden apple trays. Hanging from a hook in a Tesco bag doesn't have quite the same romantic appeal but that is the best way to keep them here. Lovingly wrapped they were lovingly eaten by mice. Hanging up they last for months, right into April.
This summer with its days and weeks of sunshine has been a great year for crops we normally struggle with. The squash have swollen and ripened and we have corn, really succulent, sweet, nutty corn. We had some tonight with crispy chicken, roast squash and mashed potatoes, everything home grown, and it was totally delicious. I really don't like tinned or frozen corn, unlike peas corn loses its flavour when it is anything other than fresh and retains only a slightly cloying sweetness, quite unlike the nutty sweetness of the fresh cob, but fresh is it a revelation.
There are fungi all over the place, tiny button ones and great dinner plate sized ones like this. I have an identification book and I pore over it. I am sure this one is not edible but even when I do find something which looks as if it is I bottle out when it comes to cooking and eating it. A doctor friend of our doctor son told us a horror story of a whole family coming into an Accident and Emergency Unit in which he was working having eaten mushrooms following a fungus foray. Only the father survived unscathed. His wife and daughters had long term liver damage. It puts you off, that sort of thing.
The edible hedge has come into its own this year. It is higher than my head and weighted down with rosehips and haws, although sadly no sloes this autumn. I think the snowstorms which covered this part of Wales in March did for the blackthorn blossom. Younger daughter's beautiful young labrador loves the rosehips and grazes happily along the bottom of the hedge. There are plenty for all of us, even labradors. The hedges are full of birds right now, particularly blackbirds, swooping down to feast on the hips before swinging off again into the boundary hedge.
This stretch of the hedge comes to a full stop with a young rowan tree which will in the fulness of time protect the shepherd's hut from winds and witches. There is another rowan in the field boundary. I love everything about them from the flashiness of the berries to the delicacy of the leaves and the sheen of the young bark.
And here is the triumph of the season. Four years ago I put in some nerine bowdenii bulbs into the sunny bank. It is a stony, sharp, fast draining place but warm and sunny too. I visualised a colony, throwing up fireworks in the autumn when the pink salvia and the rich sedums were still going strong. Nothing happened for a long while. The bulbs threw out the odd strappy leaf but no flower, and not much leaf either. And then when I went out the other day to smile at the crab apple and glare at the bindweed growing through the irises, these waved at me frantically from the end of the bank. They are just glorious. I am not a pink person at all, neither in the house nor in the clothes that I wear, but these in the garden are what pink is for.