News From The Front Line









A suitably autumnal look to the bank this month.


The preceding foliage post, photographed in the more developed parts of the garden, serves as a reminder that, one day, it might all come good. On the front line though, we’re a long way from that. I’ve been doing more work in the bottom right corner, clearing more brambles. Overall, the hart’s tongue ferns have been thinned just a little to make way for the first of the new plantings: an acer, witch hazel, hydrangea paniculata and persicaria amongst others.

At the far edge the bank is truly precipitous. Vertical in fact. And on the same level as the house roof. Stomach churning stuff. It’s not so much a fear of heights. It’s the awareness of what tends to happen when the bramble root you’re tugging on suddenly gives way. An automatic step backwards that’s almost impossible to avert. 10 feet straight down to the nearest ledge.  More, if I was unlucky enough to bounce. I had mentioned as much to Mike over lunch. Naturally he expressed concern. “Well, you’d better be careful then. With the floor sander going I wouldn’t hear if you were to fall and cry out. Crikey, the first I’d know about it would be when my coffee didn’t turn up…”

Don’t be fooled. There is irony contained therein. It is rarely me who makes the coffee. Mike does it as a rule. If I am very, very lucky it is delivered up to the top of the hill and on hot summer days supplemented with an ice cream. Thereafter we would sit upon the drive and watch ‘The Ladies’ opposite go inside for milking. The farmer rounds them up assisted by a couple of his dogs. So, in true One Man And His Dog style, points would be awarded for The Fetch.


Acer palmatum 'Senkaki'


Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’

The Coral Bark maple


On those same hot summer days the farmer has a problem. The Ladies, mais naturellement, tend to gravitate downhill towards the river where the air and the soil are moist and there is shade from the trees. By the end of the afternoon it’s a long climb back up. Especially if your undercarriage has become a tad full. A high score for The Fetch does not just rely on speed. The absence of disgruntled mooing and, indeed, indelicate language from the farmer carry equal weight.


Hydrangea paniculata 'Unique'


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’




To the right of shot the Katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum. Oh what a joy to be weeding under that tree over the last couple of days with the scent of burnt sugar wafting down. It might have set off cravings for salted caramel (again) but it’s heavenly nonetheless.


Cercidiphyllum japonicum


Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Sniff, sniff..


I only wish the scent would also deter the midges. One of the more disagreeable aspects of clearing operations having reached the woodland edge is the increased likelihood of being bitten. The Devon midge taught the Scottish midge everything it knows, I swear it. Following an unfortunate separation between T shirt and trousers in the rough and tumble business of scaling the bank I now sport no less than 20 bites in a not insensitive area.

Fear not though, help may be at hand from an unexpected source. I was talking to someone this week who swears by a product called ‘Skin so Soft’. It is manufactured by a long standing company historically having distributed their wares via a network of ladies selling door to door. Remember ‘Ding Dong Avon calling’? Admittedly you do have to be of a certain age.




The woodland edge


Anyhow. The product, a moisturiser, has become more recently renowned for its unanticipated additional benefit as a bug repellent by virtue of the citronella used to provide the lemon scent. It’s apparently so effective in this regard that it has been adopted by the British Army. Isn’t it comforting to know that our squaddies are all yomping around Afghanistan or wherever with skin sweetly fragranced by lemon and soft as a baby’s bum?

I shall follow their lead. At least in as far as acquiring some Skin so Soft albeit, befitting modern times, it’s now obtained more readily through Amazon than a nice lady who knocks upon the door. In the interests of science I will, of course, be reporting back.


Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Fat Domino'


Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Fat Domino’


Oh dear. It could be I’ve rambled and digressed more than ever this week. But did I manage to distract you from the dearth of blooms?

Linking to Helen at the Patient Gardener for the End of Month View.


Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'


Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’

Not on the bank. But nor could it be ignored.


2017-10-26T10:34:47+00:00October 31st, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Summer Daisy October 31, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Nice photos☺ Have a great week ♥

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  2. Brenda October 31, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I’ve been debating putting in a Katsura. You may have inspired me to go for it. I’m picturing you devising gardener’s crampons or some sort of harness system to keep you from tumbling over the very precipitous bank. And I loved your description of the neighboring cows. I could watch cows all afternoon.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Definitely go for a Katsura. The leaves are such a pretty shape for spring and summer too. Cows are fascinating. They’ve just gone inside for the winter though and been replaced by sheep.

  3. Tahoe girl October 31, 2016 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Such stunning pictures. We are all gold and yellows and browns here especially after a lot of rain this Weekend. Wont be long till the leaves are down,

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      It’s a sad time of year, however pretty it is right now. Winter is so grey and miserable here. I wouldn’t mind a proper winter so much, with snow and blue skies between the showers.

  4. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener October 31, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Oh my, ‘Osakazuki’ is incredible! I have a much better appreciation for the topography of your property now that I see it is level with roofs. I can imagine just how treacherous that edge is.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      The garden is much steeper than it often looks from the photos, something like the house roof does provide a sense of scale. From a design point of view it could look stunning one day, but I did underestimate the amount of work and how hard it would be.

  5. Anne Wheaton October 31, 2016 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I’ve been recommended the same insect repellent though I haven’t tried it yet. As my friend comes from Scotland and says all the local forest workers use it too, I imagine it will work a treat. Her advice was to wait until the end of season sale and buy it in bulk at a knockdown price. That’s the Scots for you 🙂

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      That’s a recommendation if ever there was one! The midges know when I cross the border and amass themselves ready, I’ve been horrendously bitten up on the West Coast.

  6. derrickjknight October 31, 2016 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    More great photos and entertaining text. Traditionally, I make the coffee, but, of late, I have been sleeping in a bit longer than Jackie – then she makes the coffee. That seems a good wheeze 🙂

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      That sounds like a win win. As I’ve got older, or maybe it’s the work/non-work transition, I’ve switched from being a morning person to an evening person.

  7. Freda October 31, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    The dearth of blooms hardly matters with such leaf colour! Before you buy Skin so Soft in bulk try it out. Different things seem to work for different people and this does not work for me. Alfresco does – a lovely product with no parabens. (Sadly much more expensive than the other…but worth every penny and lasts a long time) Good luck.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      I will try it out. I was a little concerned by the mention of citronella because those candles make me nauseous. Thanks for the Alfresco suggestion, I’ll definitely try that one too.

  8. Linda aka Crafty Gardener October 31, 2016 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    The months just seem to fly by. Lovely photos for October.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Don’t they just, this year more than any other. I don’t know where the summer went.

  9. Kris Peterson October 31, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    That Japanese maple is astoundingly beautiful! I’m impressed by the Katsura too. Unfortunately, neither do particularly well here, although I do have 2 small Japanese maples. As someone who regularly risks a tumble down one slope or another, I echo your husband’s warning. (I’ve instructed my own husband that, if ever he can’t find me after one or 2 hails, he should immediately proceed to the back slope with phone in hand to call the paramedics.) The midges sound like a horrific bother but I can testify that Skin So Soft has been widely used in Hawaii to keep the biting bugs at bay for decades.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      As Mike has actually fallen off that edge (cracked ribs) he does know how easily it’s done. It’s not my favourite bit of the garden to be working in at all. But I’m getting on with the planting and hopefully it will soon be much easier to maintain. The vertical face is another matter, I’m researching green walls!

  10. Jim Stephens October 31, 2016 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos. The colours seem richer in autumn light, with or without flowers. My garden is flat; I have often thought it would be more interesting if it were not. Now I’m not so sure.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      From a design point of view a slope can be very interesting indeed. From the gardener’s point of view, challenging. My aim is to stuff it with low maintenance plants, densely enough to exclude the majority of weeds.

  11. Christina October 31, 2016 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I will be looking for the magic bug cream too, I imagine it works with mosquitoes as well as midges. The glorious foliage colour plus your amusing prose was the perfect post Jessica

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      It does work for mosquitoes as well, allegedly. Thanks Christina.

  12. Pauline October 31, 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Your autumn colours are amazing, love your Osakazuki, it is stunning! I think abseiling is the best bet on your slope, do take care!
    The colours this autumn have been the best ever I think, the weather has been perfect for them hasn’t it?

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      I haven’t seen autumn colour as good since we’ve been down here. The conditions must have been about perfect. Now it’s going over I could do with some rain though. My new planting is suffering.

  13. pbmgarden October 31, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Osakazuki is really gorgeous.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it just, the most intensely red of all the japanese maples apparently. Thanks Susie.

  14. Joe October 31, 2016 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    I’m a little bit obsessed by cercidiphyllum. Everything about them is just right. And that scent, wow. I already grow Heronswood Globe in a shrub border but this year the deer have found it…

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Joe and welcome.
      I grew one of the named varieties in my previous garden and Heronswood Globe does ring a bell. As for the deer.. disaster! I hope they haven’t done too much damage. Either deer or squirrels have stripped the bark from a number of my favourite trees here, including a Davidia. So far the trees have just grown through it, I hope the same is true for yours.

  15. ourfrenchoasis October 31, 2016 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Stunning photos, with lots of Scottish ancestors, half of me always yearns to move there, but France always wins! Please keep us posted as to whether the bug repellent works? Here we have a mosquito problem, for the first time this year, the summer was not a problem, but now they are everywhere, it’s impossible to garden without being bitten! I sympathise with you, I hate Scottish midges, I hate Devon midges and I hate French mosquitos!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Yes, they’re all a pain. If it carries on I shall be gardening in a hat with a veil. And a belt!
      When we were looking for a house it was either the West Country or Scotland. I could have happily lived there too. France is warmer though 🙂

  16. restlessjo October 31, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    The acers are incredible this year, aren’t they? 🙂

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Best I’ve ever seen them I think. The leaves are just starting to drop sadly.

  17. CherryPie November 1, 2016 at 12:00 am - Reply

    It is all looking very pretty in its autumn colours. The acer is particularly stunning 🙂

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. I have surprised myself at really enjoying the autumn garden this year.

  18. Virginia November 1, 2016 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Don’t you think a safety harness would be ‘A Good Idea’ – we would be very concerned if there was blog-silence and we didn’t know what had happened to you! Thank you for your inspirational blogs – we had a great day at Greenways (and had booked the car park) and another at Coleton Fishacre. Wonderful gardens as well as interesting houses. And because we went in October the crowds weren’t so bad! We are home now, dealing with later than desirable spring planting and the equinoctial winds. We have avery tiny pocket-handkerchief size garden so no room for the Osakazuki you show growing so spectacularly!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      I hope you had a wonderful time in England, you couldn’t have picked a better autumn for weather. It really has been quite remarkable. After all my good intentions there just hasn’t been the time for too many days out this year and we’ve missed them. Hunting around salvage yards and trips to DIY stores really don’t count!

  19. Beth @ PlantPostings November 1, 2016 at 3:39 am - Reply

    Your Japanese Maples are stunning! And your garden journey is fun to follow–thanks for taking us along!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth. There will be more maples, they like a bit of shade and we’ve plenty of that.

  20. AnnetteM November 1, 2016 at 7:06 am - Reply

    Love your Autumn colours – especially the maple. Oh yes Skin so Soft is well known here in Scotland and outdoor shops tend to sell it too. Luckily on the East coast we are not plagued with the Scottish midge and I have so far managed to avoid spending time on the West coast during midge season. My son once went on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition and had to wear a net that covered his head and shoulders!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      It may well come to that for me. I think it was Gardeners’ World but I remember seeing something recently where a couple also donned hat with veil while gardening.

  21. Amy at love made my home November 1, 2016 at 7:23 am - Reply

    Such wonderful autumn colour!!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      It’s been a cracking year!

  22. bumbleandme November 1, 2016 at 7:53 am - Reply

    Fab as always. Although I’m a little upset you didn’t mention the Welsh midges! I think you’ll find they can nibble just as well as your devon midges! They’ve been a plague this autumn, darn things. I await the results of your trial on Skin so Soft with eagerness – it may be the answer to my prayers, or a pair if dungarees! X

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      I’m sure if I’d ever been bitten by a Welsh midge they’d have also got a mention! They have been bad this year haven’t they. You have a good point with the dungarees, unless the T shirt still slips out the back?

  23. Rosie November 1, 2016 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Well, I’ve loved reading your ramblings and digressions. The photo of your acer tree is wonderful and I love he thought of the soldiers and their special skin cream and the farmer trying to get his cows in for milking after a day by the river:)

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosie. I often think the farmer struggles with the hills as much as I do!

  24. Sue Garrett November 1, 2016 at 9:11 am - Reply

    The acer is beautiful. We have the same one but it hasn’t developed the full red effect yet.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Last year ours stayed so long in the deep crimson stage I thought it was never going to turn. But it did eventually.

  25. Caro November 1, 2016 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I need an Acer. And fully agree about the scent of Cercidiphyllum, there was one outside the design studio at Capel, heavenly colour and scent. Yummy, indeed. And being a lady of a certain age, ahem, can fully attest to the effectiveness of Skin So Soft; essential kit for campers and holiday makers, but had forgotten it could also be useful in the garden. Very entertaining post, Jessica – keep on ramblin’ on!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      I first encountered Cercidiphyllum at Sissinghurst and immediately put it on the must have list. I found this one at Malvern, a pot that contained two stems. I carefully separated the root ball and both have thrived although one is much bigger than the other.

  26. Wendy November 1, 2016 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    I love how the September/October photos show the seasonal changes. The acers are such a striking colours in the landscape at this time of year. I know about ‘Skin So Soft’ after our plague of mozzies this summer. Citronella was the dominant smell around here for a while; not one I’m keen on but I think it was effective.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      I’m a little bit wary of Skin so Soft because of the citronella, it’s not a smell that agrees with me either. I shall buy the smallest quantity I can to start off with.

  27. Sol November 1, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I love the red domino Ive never seen that before

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      The blooms are quite a bit bigger than the typical persicaria and more vibrant. I’ve put it in a fairly dingy spot to brighten things up. Seems to be working.. !!

  28. smallsunnygarden November 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Flowers or no, you have some magnificent colour there 🙂 The luscious red of the persicaria looks perfect with your autumn leaves. I will definitely be interested in the Skin So Soft results. It was even recommended for keeping deer flies and horse flies off horses, but in our experience that was too tall an order… and as my mother was the one applying it, I’m certain sure that enough was used to give it a fair chance!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      If it kept horse flies off it truly would be worth its weight in gold. They are a plague here in summer too.

  29. Torrington Tina November 1, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Lovely, lovely colours. Citronella works for me, a (not) very fetching denim hat thoroughly sprayed with the stuff keeps most of them away. Hope it works for you.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Spraying a hat, now there’s a thought..

  30. Henriet from Holland November 1, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Lovely autumn colours here too, on the other side of the North Sea. The children play on the public lawns on both sides of our street, where acers drop zillions of leaves. They rake them and build ‘streets’, they push them around with ‘snow pushers”. (What are those plastic utensils in English?) My neighbour says: “Leaves are the new snow.” No snow here to speak of the last few years…

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Snow shovels?
      I miss the ‘real’ winters that we used to have with snow but more sunshine. The damp grey alternative depresses me so.

  31. Sue Garrett November 2, 2016 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I used to think the Skin so Soft worked for me and then it seemed to stop being effective. I noticed that all the packaging changed so I wonder if they have changed the ingredients.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Oh, that’s a worry. I do wish manufacturers wouldn’t change things that work.

  32. Laura November 2, 2016 at 11:58 am - Reply

    You have a tree that gives off a scent of burnt sugar?!? That’s such a crazy concept, I had to read the comments to figure out what you were talking about! However, having just returned from a trip to Italy, I came across a different scent issue in Rome. We were taking a walk in a park area, and I could smell a funny stench of the botanical nature. I still have no idea which plant was the culprit! There were so many trees and shrubs that I couldn’t identify anyway, but fascinating none the less!

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Yes, it’s a brilliant tree. Mine is still tiny so I have to get quite close to it to detect the scent. A mature tree wafts for a much greater distance. It really is quite wonderful.

  33. Chloris November 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    You don’ t need blooms when you have acers like this. I don’ t know how I have lived so long without the queen of acers, Osakazuki. Yours is such a pretty shape.
    I have used Skin So Soft to keep mosquitos off in the Caribbean. I’ m not sure how effective it is. My best protection is to stay close to my husband as he is always the snack of choice for mosquitos. I am clearly not very tasty. Still, I realise that would be an impractical solution to the midge problem when balancing on your slope.

    • Jessica November 2, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      It’s the other way round here. There is a benefit to not being tasty.
      On holiday somewhere in the tropics I discovered that the fish in the sea quite liked bread so I would save some from my breakfast each day. The trouble was that when the bread ran out they would start nibbling me instead. The solution was to throw the last chunk of bread over towards Mike. They would all swim over after it and then start nibbling him instead.

  34. Sue C. November 2, 2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Lovely autumn photos – the trees are looking brilliant. Good luck with the Skin so Soft – I’ve heard about that before, hope it works.

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sue. I do need to find an effective solution now my gardening is moving under trees.

  35. Linda from Each Little World November 3, 2016 at 3:49 am - Reply

    We have a weeping Katsura but rarely get the famous scent. Lucky you!

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      I do need to get close up to it, the tree isn’t really big enough yet to have a powerful impact. Perhaps it is something that improves as the tree matures?

  36. Lisa Isaacs November 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Such wonderful photos! I adore all the orange and golds…

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa! Thanks, we really have been spoiled with all the autumn colour this year. Have to make the most of it because it doesn’t last very long.

  37. Linda P. November 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    The vivid red colour of the acer Osakazuki is stunning. I enjoyed seeing the view from the slope across the woods to the fields beyond and your description of the cows and the farmer. I imagine some sounds carry well from the top of the slope to the hillside across the way. The Katsura tree that smells of burnt sugar sounds interesting! It looks pretty. We’re just about to exchange one lot of gardening activity with different ones and wondering what will be in store? Thankful to have help. The grape harvest is over and has been dealt with as is the olive gathering so family are less busy now and we’ll enjoy their company.

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      Have a wonderful time Linda. Relax and enjoy the much deserved break!

  38. Brian Skeys November 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Years ago Patrick Lichfield use to tell his models to use Avon Skin so Soft to repell the mosquitos. I would group you with his models rather than army squaddies Jessica.?

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Oh, if only. They’d have to spend far too long air brushing out the berberis scratches on my arms.

  39. Cathy November 4, 2016 at 9:58 am - Reply

    ‘Osakazuki’ is absolutely stunning – sadly I don’t think I cold find room for it. I hope Fat Domino does well for you – mine has been absolutely stunning and has flowered and flowered

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Fat Domino certainly seems robust. It struggled in its pot for way too long but as soon as I planted it out it shot up and rewarded me with countless blooms. It’s a keeper.

  40. Jayne Hill November 4, 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Skin So Soft definitely works against midges but not all SSS products are midge-effective, I believe it is the ‘SSS original dry oil spray” that you have to get. Certainly that is what I use and have just dug it out of the caravan 1st aid kit (essential for Kielder midges) to check. Although it mentions citronella in the ingredients the predominant scent is reminiscent of Johnson’s baby powder. Like you, I detest the smell of citronella but I’ve never noticed it when using this stuff.

    BTW, Devon midges did not educate Scottish ones. I suspect the Kielder beasts came first and migrated both north and south when they had finished feasting on Northumberland residents!

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tip Jayne, I’ll make sure I order the right stuff. Good to know it doesn’t smell of citronella too, at least to our noses. Obviously I’m going to need a good supply when we eventually manage to get back up your way.

  41. Peter Herpst November 4, 2016 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Your writing always brings a chuckle! I can just see you watching the farmer and rating the performance. The Acer in the last shot is quite a standout. This time of year brings such wonderful color. I’ve also heard good things about Skin So Soft which can still be obtained from an “Avon Lady” although Amazon is probably much easier.

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter. Hopefully the farmer doesn’t know he is being scored. Imagine the pressure!

  42. annie_h November 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Who needs blooms with leaf colour like that, gorgeous. I’m always tempted by the Cercidiphyllum tree, I’m very curious to smell the leaves, I’ve never done so.

    • Jessica November 4, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      If you are walking through a garden or arboretum and get a waft from Cercidiphyllum you’ll know it straight away, it’s very distinctive.

  43. Anna November 4, 2016 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Oh that acer is most fabulous Jessica. I must track one down forthwith. I didn’t realise that Devon was renowned for its midges. I wonder whether midges have accents. I’ve used the Skin So Soft product for a good number of years. Avon has caught up with the times and now has an online presence, where at certain times of year this particular product is sold at a favourable price.

    • Jessica November 5, 2016 at 10:24 am - Reply

      Ha! I love the idea of midges with accents. Maybe this is why they don’t understand me when I ask them, politely of course (ahem..), to go away.

  44. Anne-Marie Brophy November 5, 2016 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Your autumn colours are beautiful. I’m thinking of putting some more acers around our house in the autumn and these certainly give me food for thought. We live on a property about an hour north of Melbourne, in Australia, and although we are currently landscaping away from the house with natives, I have read that planting with deciduous trees may assist in house protection in bush fire season. Hopefully we never have to test that theory, but worth a thought.
    And don’t believe all you hear about the beautiful Aussie weather….we have very heavy frosts and low temperatures here, in the Macedon Ranges,in Winter. Great for thriving orchards and peonies. Victoria has had heavy rains over Spring, and we are now dealing with plague proportions of mosquitoes. Insect repellent is a must here!

    • Jessica November 5, 2016 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Hi Anne-Marie and welcome!
      I’ve read about your wet Spring, perhaps this has something to do with our abnormally dry autumn. Your property sounds wonderful. I do hope the ‘firebreak’ works. In my naivety I planted a eucalyptus in the first garden I had, because I love the leaves. It was a tiny postage stamp bit of ground in the middle of a housing estate. The tree shot up. I looked on google maps a few months back and it was still there, immediately recognisable!!

  45. germac4 November 6, 2016 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Loved your previous comment about the eucalyptus in your first garden… They certainly take over! I love the sound of the Katsura tree & I must check to see if I can grow it here in Canberra…..the smell of burnt sugar.

    • Jessica November 6, 2016 at 11:48 am - Reply

      It’s a wonderful tree Gerrie, I hope you can find it. It does become a large tree in time, but not as big as eucalyptus!

  46. Chel at Sweetbriar Dreams November 6, 2016 at 9:07 am - Reply

    I have also heard of this particular product and haven’t trusted myself to get some, but I think I may just give it a go for next year! I hate those little blighters!! Your images are just spectacular with the wonderful autumnal colours. Have a great Sunday and nurse those bites! xx

    • Jessica November 6, 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply

      Thanks Chel. For some reason I seem to attract any kind of flying biting insect. It used to just be a problem in the evening but now the temperatures have dropped the midges seem to be out all day. They’re a menace.

  47. Piddlewick November 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Finally catching up, sitting down and reading your blog posts, which I so enjoy! I was laughing out loud a number of times in this post. My Mum swears by Skin So Soft, so I will be interested to hear how you find it as well. (And goodness knows where I will souce in France!)

    • Jessica November 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      I’ll report back, although the weather has turned now so gardening is seriously curtailed. Sadly it hasn’t curtailed the midges, there were clouds of them outside the study window yesterday.. they’re out there waiting for me!!

  48. Charles November 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Skin so soft was defeated by scotch midges but there is product called SMIDGE which does not leave you feeling like a chemical weapons testing sight but it does work.

    • Jessica November 8, 2016 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Oh, bad news on the scottish midges. But I shall add SMIDGE to my list to try, thank you. Some of them really do smell terrible.

  49. willisjw November 18, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Well, I feel inspired to add Katsura to my Chrismas List. It’s about time I started accumulated the plants I intend kill next year…

    • Jessica November 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      Trees and shrubs seem to withstand all that I can throw at them.. go for the Katsura!

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