The Green Green Grass Of Home
Mike’s new lawn seed is coming on well. Ptolemy Pheasant has completed the now obligatory inspection of any new garden development, pecked around it a bit and declared it good.
The stone infill behind the veggie beds is complete. A vast improvement on the overgrown tangle of ferns and weeds which used to reside here and the molluscs are left with fewer places to hide.
Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’. In the background, Persicaria virginiana var filiformis.
It has, in many ways, weather-wise, been the perfect summer. Passing swiftly over the occasional unseasonal blast of wind and rain, sending branches crashing to the ground and flattening some of the taller growing grasses and perennials, l shall try to remember instead the more agreeable mix of sunshine and soft refreshing rain, creating the ideal growing conditions. Even if that did result in more than our fair share of slugs and snails.
Plenty of colour still to be seen on the Precipitous Bank. It is a bit of a riot up there, pretty much left to do its own thing these past two summers. On the list for an overhaul next year. Oh yes.
But now I have to concede that autumn has arrived.
The garden robin has returned from his summer vacation, having eaten far more ice cream than is good for him by the look of it. He had better make the most of his perch because it won’t be long before the ducks themselves will be headed inside to their own winter accommodation.
The colour shift has begun. This is an area that I cleared this year. A previously ivy-infested no man’s land at the far end of the terraces, there are still some gaps to fill but I’m enjoying the new glimpses between the different levels.
Somewhat predictably, coinciding with the end of the summer holidays, Covid-wise it is all getting rather shitty again. Local lockdowns abound. So far we’ve escaped the worst of it in the south west but how long will it be before all the dots join up? The green grass of home could be pretty much all we’ll be looking at this autumn and winter. Over the last few months the garden has provided a welcome distraction but that will change with the onset of cooler and wetter weather.
It doesn’t help that I’ve messed up my back (again) planting out yet more lonicera bushes at the bottom of the lawn. Mike, with no small amount of glee it has to be said, announced that earlier in the year he purchased what was described as a rubber ‘cushion’ intended as an aid to lifting things in and around the garden. The implication, however, was that it could now be inserted underneath his wife and inflated, with the assistance of a foot pump presumably, to provide lumber support in any chosen sleeping position. Let my discomfort act as a warning to anyone else frankly stupid enough to attempt to plant (what feels like) a mile long strip of hedge halfway down a critically unstable 45 degree slope. Sigh.
And so, having spurned the offer of any contraption produced from the shed I have spent the long hours before dawn sitting upright in bed thinking about winter. Regular readers will know that, even in the best of times, it is hardly my favourite part of the year. How then do I make it even slightly bearable this time around?
Hygge. Albeit without the socialising.
Those who profess a greater fondness for the season than me often speak of cosiness, cocooning, a roaring fire, the blissful aroma of home baked bread, a jumper on the knitting needles, a pile of books, throws, blankets and perhaps a glass or two of something to accompany a film night on the box. It’s a philosophy I aspire to pretty much every year yet never quite manage to achieve. This will be the first winter at home in a long time that we haven’t shared with tradesmen of one breed or another. It’s a tad easier to create a restful haven when you’re not having to dodge the acrow props holding the ceiling up or brush away several inches of rubble and dust to find the place where the wine glass coaster used to be.
The sitting room and dining room are structurally complete but still need the finishing touches to make the place feel like home. There are several projects waiting in the wings to enable that to happen. But what I’m thinking about as well are the more restful things.
Tricyrtis formosana ‘Pink Freckles’
Now, more than ever, we need to be kind to ourselves. During the last lockdown I happened across an online course in botanical art. I quite fancy trying my hand at that, perhaps using some of my macro shots as a starting point. David Attenborough, on the BBC yesterday, said lockdown offered “a vision of what life can be like when you’ve got more time to sit and stare”. He has done that out in his garden listening to and watching the birds. I want to find, finally, a guaranteed method of feeding the birds that isn’t going to get wrecked by the squirrels. David also rejoiced in how fortunate he was to have a garden at all, a thought which will resonate with many of us. We mustn’t forget just how much there is to enjoy out there, even in the depths of winter, and I want to spend more time too on improving my photography for its own sake. Reading the new camera manual might be a useful place to start.
Flushed with the success of growing strelitzia from seed I am dabbling in the exotics again this year. Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) and frangipani (Plumeria). Enough to entice me out to the greenhouse on all but the very coldest and wettest of days?
Looking forward and planning for the gardening year ahead is surely one of the greatest pleasures of winter.
How about you? What are your plans?
And if you’re in the southern hemisphere, please do let us have your tips. What has helped get you through a Covid winter?
Linking to Sarah, Through the Garden Gate (here) who has some rather lovely dahlias!