It feels like my garden is in transition from summer to autumn, with squillions of Shasta daisies and other perennials to cut down. Now my lazybones patio tomatoes need to do some serious ripening. ASAP. I'll spell it out. As soon as possible, you little cherry chaps. Ripen so you can be eaten, or else!
Sunday 9th March
More importantly, this morning's transition is from snug indoor clothes to breezy gardening clobber - I will need work vigorously to keep warm. More of the Shasta daisies need their autumn trim, and I'm sure I can find something to rake up. Actually, the best way to keep warm is either stay inside or saw off some tree branches. Might think about that, too. Hey - I suddenly feel very autumnal in body as well as spirit.
Five Hours later...
I worked my way right along the water race banks, nipping and cutting back the daisies. I've pruned a large Hebe which has just finished flowering, I've trimmed Phormiums and Euphorbias, I've even weeded out clover and dead-headed roses.
Gunnera by WIllow Bridge
The Gunnera is getting really scruffy now, another autumn indicator. Many leaves have flopped right across or into the water, while crowns and roots have grown seriously big. There's quite a little waterfall upstream of Willow Bridge, where I'll have to take the spade to its roots to clear the route. It's easy to see how ruinous Gunnera can be when it escapes into the wild and clogs up the waterways.
I Love Building Little Stone Walls...
Mid-afternoon I took a break and scavenged some stones from next-door's mess (stones come up when the tree stumps are ripped out). I've rebuilt the little stone retaining wall near my potato patches, and as soon as the remaining boundary stumps are removed (if indeed this is to be their fate) I'll top-up the gardens with good top-soil and compost and think about planting plans. The stumps are so near my boundary that their removal will create chasms in my good earth.
New Stone Wall
Wandering around with the camera I noticed piles of weeds along the water's edge which I'd not collected. Oops. I didn't want to photograph them - an honest gardener probably would have. Just as there are no close-ups of the scruffy Gunnera. In autumn (for I now suspect autumn has arrived) many of my roses re-bloom, their colours deeper, highly saturated, though often the shrub won't produce as many flowers as during the first late-spring flush. Yet others (Colourbreak, for example) seem to bloom bigger and better. And I love the subtle, more mellow colours throughout the garden which are just as beautiful.
All in all it's been a wonderful, colourful garden day. A calm and thoughtful day, too, which usually means that autumn is imminent. Nice.
Monday 10th March
Today I saw my first autumn leaves. This is definitely the beginning of something - which is true of every single gardening day, I guess. Except that autumn has a way of tickling the senses that's quite unique. OK. Let's call it early autumn, in case my still-ripening tomatoes happen to read this.
Early Autumn Leaves
I need to make a decision about a yellow flower which is in over-supply - Oenothera, or Evening Primrose. Do I want this robust, weedy perennial to colonise one of my dog-paths? Hmm... I haven't pulled any out yet, and have reserved judgment.
Ghost in the Machine?
More yellow thoughts. The big yellow Mad-Max tree-grabber next-door has been behaving very oddly. It has a personality disorder, I reckon. An ADHD machine, maybe? For hours it will sit near my driveway making metallic moaning noises. Then off it rumbles, weaving a route between the humpy piles of tree rubbish. KerTHUMP! Down comes one tree. Just one.
Off We Go...
Back it trundles to my boundary, very pleased with itself. It then scoops bits of this rubbish pile over onto that rubbish pile. If I'm very sneaky and pretend not to look, it will pull out a tree stump along my boundary. Just one, though. Then off to other end of the tree paddock it goes, clattering and swinging its claw, showing off. It's behaving like a small boy...
Right. I'm off to do some concentrated early autumn gardening, which means more trimming of perennials. I wish, wish, wish that the tree-grabber would follow my example, settle down, concentrate, choose one thing, and stay on task all afternoon. Even I can manage that!
I might have made the biggest mistake of my culinary career - have just added lumpy pieces of courgette to a pork slow-cook dish. Will they tenderise just so, or go all mushy? Hmm... Anyway, my gardening day is over, and a grand and thoughtful day it has been.
I love my garden now that I've decided it's early autumn. It focusses me, and I know what to do. I like the cooler, snuggly temperatures at night, too. And the lower angled light makes the flower colours look so groovy. Especially the roses...
Early Autumn Regrets...
Here's a list of early autumn regrets. Actually, I could probably write pages and pages of them, so consider this just the beginning! If only I'd dead-headed more of the dahlias and staked the big floppy ones. If only I'd taken more care of the roses (I think I mean spraying them, tsk tsk). If only the Crambe had flowered. What on earth happened to those pretty little fairy-white flowers? If only I'd sown a thousand more strawflower seedlings. Their colours are unreal, but delightfully so, and I want to see more of them.
And here's one for all gardeners with the best of intentions. If only all that wonderful horse manure I put on the Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Garden rhododendrons hadn't been absolutely full to overflowing with annual stinging nettle seeds...