The rain just doesn’t seem to have stopped. I’m sure it must have at some point these last days, but I was either asleep or I somehow didn’t notice. Actually, it did for about 30 minutes this morning – and probably did for some of yesterday, so I’m being overly dramatic.
I’m listening to it now falling on the window panes – which is better than Monday night when it woke me up dripping on the floor near my head! (There’s a waiting bucket now. It only happens with a combination of very heavy rain and strong wind from a particular direction…)
This of course means that I’ve got almost nothing done. In that little thirty minute window I did finally plant several pots of tulips that have been waiting to go in for ages. I don’t feel too bad about making them wait as, apparently, they do better planted once the cold weather hits and are less susceptible to diseases. Which is a comforting excuse for laziness on my part.
But here’s the garden from my window last week before the rain set in:
And the Miscanthus lit by… a little bit of sun!
I have to scrabble around and grab hold of the good at this time of year. Outwardly everything is rotting, withdrawing, collapsing and dying around me.
It’s cold. It’s damp. I can’t walk on the grass without turning it into a slippery mud trail – but I have to walk on the grass and wheel my barrows full of manure over it, so it looks dreadful.
So… I have started raking and collecting the fallen leaves to use as mulch. I have pruned my black currants and other soft fruit. I have started the long process of renovating and weeding the flower borders. I’m wandering around with secateurs in my pocket snipping when I see the need. I have smothered the Asparagus bed in manure and am gradually doing the same elsewhere.
There are Blewitts now. The last mushrooms to fruit. Even after the frosts. I’m still collecting Chanterelles (Cantherellus tubaeformis) and the day before yesterday got some Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus) as an unexpected surprise.
Scratching the ground I’ve seen the blunt snouts of daffodils already waiting to emerge. So, although it seems on the surface that it’s all decaying, there’s a whole world down below slowly preparing for the Spring. I love that.
I’ve just started lifting the Oca in a serious way – rather than just scratching around the plants to see what’s there. It’s been so damp and chilly the leaves are starting to drop and rot even under the netting and, though I’d rather wait longer, I can’t. Major vole depredations as usual. But I got out this handful of sizeable beauties. I hope there will be lots more – but there will at least be enough to have another try next year – The eternally optimistic (delusional) mentality of a gardener…
How I have waited for this photo – even though it’s not very good! After the miserable weather, and especially after this cold spell, I was thrilled to see two Clouded Yellows in the garden. They really are the last men standing. Even the reliable Speckled Woods have gone now and I haven’t seen a Red Admiral for a while… These have been buzzing around but not settling anywhere for more than a couple of seconds. So I was pretty happy that one finally stopped on a broccoli flower and let me close enough to snap.
After a fair amount of time spent moping or doing very little I’ve finally spent a day hacking back the dead stems, scratching out the moss and prising out the couch grass ‘onions’. It’s satisfying to see some semblance of order returning to parts of the most overgrown places – and more importantly, the re-opening up of borders which had felt (although I hadn’t paid enough attention and realised until now), somewhat claustrophobic.
I’m planning on an overhaul of my borders. I’ve finally got to the happy point where I can start to dig out and discard. Previously I was just glad that stuff was growing and filling the gaps – even if that meant having plants that I didn’t overly like but was pleased that they grew! Now I’ve a substantial list of plants that I can move elsewhere (even perhaps out of the garden into the ditches and hedgerows) and, more importantly, other (better) things I’ve raised from seed or cuttings that now need to be moved from their nursery beds into a more permanent home.
What I’m not good at is ‘imagining’ what things will look like. I can’t plan plantings or juxtapositions of plants. It’s always been a bit of pot luck and serendipity if things have worked – normally I have no space ready for a new plant so things get fitted in and then worked around….even if they’re not ‘working’.
The weather, whilst mild and incredibly still for the most part, (despite hail yesterday, and two nights of frost which have now blackened the Dahlias) has been been wet. And horribly damp in the house.
I am a bit of a baby when it comes to getting wet. I hate being wet. When I’m out working I dash in and out of the barn like the little plastic lady of the weather vanes the minute it starts raining.
But now the dampness is interfering with my seed collecting/drying with quite a lot of mould even on things I’d thought were dry – or that would dry if I took them indoors. Of course it’s always a bit of a gamble saving seed. Generally with the big stuff like beans, squash etc. you can tell pretty much if they’re going to be viable. The tiny seeds are more problematic. I should perhaps germinate samples when I save them to save heartache the following year, but I don’t. What made me think that, was that I’d collected some marigold (tagetes) seed – so nothing special – but was wondering if it was ok. Then I saw that amongst the seed heads a couple had already sprouted. Hmmmmn. So they are viable, but if they’ve sprouted now because of the damp is it worth trying to dry them for next Spring?
And now, after a day where the freeze overnight gave way to a beautiful, sun-filled, sparklingly lit sky, I’m waiting to see what tomorrow will bring. I can’t say that I got masses done, but I feel like I’m getting back in gear again after a period of what can only be kindly called ‘inertia’.
Now that the Dahlias, Nasturtiums, Marigolds etc. have had it I can tackle the cutting back and the weeding more comfortably. There is just so much that needs doing.
In the field today I saw two deer, scared a pheasant, picked some Millers and a huge Orange Birch Bolete (in good condition) which have been cooked down and will be part of tomorrow’s soufflé (just the mushrooms!)
And I collected these most beautiful beans. I call them ‘Isabelle’s Black Beans’ because she gave them to me several years ago and I’ve never found out their real name.
Of course it’s been worse. But it is so damp! Visibility about 50 metres. Low cloud. Not raining but so much moisture it feels like it is. My spirits plummeted – and they were already pretty low, and remained low for the day.
Strangely, as the day progressed, it got warmer and warmer outside. I didn’t realise until I went out at about 4pm. The condensation that I’d seen on my window, and thought that it was cold outside… meant the opposite. It was actually warmer outside than in! Quick – get outside into that warm!
Obviously not 57 varieties, but I’ve got lots!
I love the colours, forms, markings and abundance….
The harvesting of them has given me a bit of a push. Plus, I have attacked parts of the garden with shears and secateurs. This has made me feel better.
I have also been nurturing this Brugmansia for a couple of seasons. This year it grew well, but the flower buds only started to form at the beginning of October. Too late I thought. However….a mild Autumn and a bit of jiggling of the plant – into the conservatory and leaving the house door open so that the night temperature stayed around 7 degrees…. and….. Voila!
The perfume is amazing. Only at night time. Huge trumpets of custardy yellow loveliness with these beautiful curly, twirly tendrils. When they open wide they’re almost the size of my head!
Now, I need to get it through the winter….
This one with no pictures.
I’m feeling sorry for myself. At this time of year I look at the garden and see nothing but an overgrown, neglected, unkempt and, frankly, abandoned mess. And I wonder how this has happened? Given that I barely move away from this place. Ever? And this is all I do?
It’s not a huge amount of space. Why can’t I manage to keep it looking as I want it to?
The weather forecasts keep saying that there will be whole days when it won’t be drizzling, and there will be sun and just some white cloud. But everyday it seems the forecast gets amended to account for the fact that it is still drizzling, and that the sun and white cloud will be along later.
Watching everything in the garden collapsing into a mass of sodden, rotting vegetation is both frustrating and depressing.
However, the fungi are having fun. I collected these this morning and love all the different colours and shapes. And, yes, they’re all edible.