It’s been an oddly warm week, very un-Autumny! But there have been hints of it in the air, and the winding down jobs outdoors keep the feel of the seasons. I was really grateful to be outside this week, as my work indoors has been quite intense and I’ve been in need of some settling!
I started gardening more seriously when I wasn’t well for a time. Then as now, it balances my tendency to scatter all over the place, and it teaches me to take care, to notice, to go at a more natural pace. I was thinking this morning how there seems to be a direct correlation between how I am towards my garden and how I am towards myself. There were times in the past when the routines of caring and tending have seemed almost like a burden. As I cared more however, and allowed myself the luxury of time, time to do a job properly, to actually enjoy the feeling of sinking into the process, and experiencing it more deeply, this has become more natural. Learning to care for plants has helped me to learn to care for myself, and often when I arrive up on my plot feeling stressed and like everything is going too fast, I take a trowel and begin to weed, or I take my secateurs and deadhead flowers, and my aches and pains of heart and mind seem to begin to soften. I feel care blossom inside myself, and everything benefits from that.
So, it was great to be back up on the plot this past week, in between other things, and there’s been quite a few changes! I was hoping that I might be able to move to a larger plot, so I’d been holding off doing too much just in case, but there isn’t yet one available so I’ve now fully committed myself to another year on this one. I’ve moved around the beds to make better use of the space, and I’m going to have separate sections for flowers and veg. This means lots of digging and soil preparation as much of it was grassy pathways, but it’s feeling so much better organised and I think I’m really going to enjoy working on it this year. I’m trying to think of this patch as a mini experiment area, practicing all the things I want to try on a larger scale in following years.
I’ve harvested all of the butternut now, from my two plants. I lost a few small fruits when I was clearing as the stems were very fragile by the end, but I’m quite happy with what’s left! I only fed them with liquid seaweed and a good mix of garden compost, and they also took a lot of watering. They even survived the moles that kept insisting on burying underneath them several times! It was quite warm and sunny this week so I cleaned them and left them in the sun to ripen the skins, and they’ll soon be inside. I’ve heard that they get sweeter the longer they are stored, so I will do a taste test and find out! I’m not planning anything much for over winter now as I want to carry on setting up the new beds, get a shed up, and plan for spring. There are some leeks still in the ground though, and a few onions, and rocket. I’ve also planted garlic as I’d like to think of something still growing..! It still amazes me how you plant a clove, and it makes a whole bulb. And you sow a cosmos seed, and you get hundreds of beautiful Cosmos flowers on a huge plant. A bit like the goldfish is delighted by every new corner, things like this, digging up garlic, witnessing whole huge bean plants growing from just ONE BEAN seems like a brilliant new miracle to me every time.
This year, from getting the plot in March to now, has been a bit of a haphazard adventure while I worked it all out. But I’ve learned so much! I’ve definitely learned the value of planning ahead, so that when each new stage arrives you feel prepared.
I’ve let this little patch of flowers to do their own thing now as they still send out last little shoots of colour – in fact the more delicate single shoots of Sweet William are very lovely. They’ve been flowering now since late spring, which I think is pretty amazing plant value! The Gaura Lindheimeri took ages to grow from seed, and didn’t start to flower until about August, instead of May as promised! But when left to roam in this way I can really see how it gets its name, “Whirling Butterflies”, and I love it. It doesn’t really work for me as a cut flower though so I will stick to using it in the garden, where it can do its butterfly thing. I have two plants in pots in the garden and they’ve also done a great job of filling in gaps in the border. Gaura is a perennial, and so I’m hoping that it will flower earlier next year as the plant is more established.
Dahlia “Burlesca” is coming to an end now, but Dahlia “Bright Eyes” is still sending out masses of flowers. I slightly wish it was the other way round as the Burlesca colours got more rich and beautiful as the season turned. But the “Bright Eyes” flowers are cheerful and fun, plus the bees love them as much as I do, so I’m happy!
I wasn’t supposed to be buying plants for the garden this year as I’m saving my budget for the allotment, but I saw this Gentiana “The Caley” several times and couldn’t quite resist it! Some of the petals have been damaged by (I’m guessing) rain, and slugs, but the colour still shines out so beautifully, whether the flowers are closed or open!
Another plant in the garden I’ve been so pleased with is this Saxifrage “Blackberry and Apple Pie”. It’s in the shady area of the garden and the flowers light up there. The flowers are really interesting, with one longer petal than the others..the leaves also have a really appealing richness to them. It’s quite a spring-like flower, but really welcome in late summer/autumn time, I love it!
Out walking this week, definitely a mix of the last of summer still hanging about on the fringes of autumn…
Thanks for reading – see you next week!