Where Did Autumn Go?
..Spirited away on the wind.
We seem to have gone from the lushness of late summer straight into the bedraggled landscape of winter with hardly a moment to catch breath. First the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia and then, within a week, the ravages of Storm Brian. The humble homestead was littered with fallen branches and, indeed, a couple of entire trees. The leaves first to turn were swept away before they had a chance to fully colour up. A few remain dangling forlornly, picked out by the low rays of the sun.
For much of the month the soil has been wet, claggy and almost impossible to work but in the drier spells I’ve pressed on with the clearing. Weeding here is on an epic scale. We’ve recently purchased three new compost bins but even they would be overwhelmed by the amount of green material now being produced.
I can easily fill a builders merchant’s dumpy bag in a morning. Especially now that ‘Rules’ have been imposed in terms of their capacity. Apparently an overly stuffed one is too heavy to drag away. The wheelbarrow is deployed to further assist the process.
The sheer volume of garden detritus makes it impractical to cart it off to the local tip for council composting so our only real option is to burn it.
Mike will get rid of all of this in a day when bonfire conditions are perfect. The trick, I am told, is to establish a hot base. Once his base is deemed sufficiently toasty he loads it up, armful by armful, keeping a vigilant eye out for any hedgehogs that might have already crept underneath the enticing piles and put up their Do Not Disturb signs.
In an ideal world weed clearance on this scale should be a one off exercise. If I did it often enough, ongoing maintenance would produce less in the way of triffids and reduce the amount of garden waste to something I should be able to manage through composting. Another reason for treating 2018 as a consolidation year. Even without new projects there is enough work to do to keep me usefully employed for most of each day.
First incursion into the woodland at the end of last month
A similar view today
The extracted green stuff is mostly brambles and Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) which forms dense mats of white roots. Removing it is much like lifting turf: shove the tines of the fork underneath and then strip it away in large clumps. I doubt I’ve got it all. Any roots that remain will sprout new plants. But it’s a necessary job. This stuff blankets the ground and smothers just about anything else.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’. The first shrub to go back in.
Such a ridiculous name. Just as well it’s pretty.
There will be more shrubby woodlanders to follow on next year creating a middle storey under the trees, underplanted with shade loving ground cover: geraniums, hellebores, epimediums. Tough perennials which will more or less look after themselves. And from this spot now I have a different view.. the far side of the Precipitous Bank merging into the woodland and becoming contiguous with it. New vistas are always so exciting.
November and December are not exactly my favourite months. By the time we get through to January the days are getting noticeably longer, the shoots of snowdrops are pushing up above the soil and the first colour on the witch hazels is just peeking out. From now until then there will be much snuggling up with books on shade gardening to help me to plan.
Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’
I’m not entirely bereft of autumn colour though.
Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Emerald Lace’
Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’
The acer with the most intense colour is also one of the last to lose its leaves. That, and its relatively sheltered position, meant that it survived the worst of the October storms. In a few more days, especially now the night temperatures have started to fall, it will be a blaze of red.
According to WordPress this is my 500th post. Well who’d a thought it. I decided to mark the occasion by giving the ole blog a bit of a spruce up. As usual with these things what seems like such a little bit of tweaking turns into anything but and I return indebted to help desks the length and breadth of the planet. Perhaps I’d better make the most of it now and post more often..
Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’
‘Till next time..
Will they have had more luck holding on to some late season colour?