This weekend brought a welcome spell of clear dry weather, with some gentle overnight rainfall: the perfect weather for fresh new grass.
Incredible that we only sowed this grass seed a few weeks ago; you can almost see it growing.
Saturday was a calm day of sunshine which still held some heat, while on Sunday there was a stronger breeze and clouds often scurried across the sun. We made the most of every minute of these precious days, for who knows when winter will come down and turn us back to indoor tasks leaving the garden to fare for itself?
King of the Hill busied himself designing and building us a wood-and-bin-store to stand on the patio outside the kitchen doors.
An impressive store, holding stacked firewood in two sizes, three baskets of kindling, four baskets to hold our recycling and a space for landfill rubbish – we had put most of the latter out for collection when I took these pictures. Now the terrace is tidy, and we can bring in logs and kindling for the fire without venturing down to the bottom of the garden in the wind and the rain.
It’s been providing us with entertainment, too, as the cats delight in their new piece of climbing apparatus. We have watched as one cat deftly climbed up the side from the ground to the roof using the cross pieces as a ladder, and later even climbed up the face of the store, using the logs themselves to hold and swing from: so far the wood stacking seem to be sufficiently stable to take this assault!
While this was under construction by the house, I spent my time down in the garden, digging over the last remaining area of ground in the swell of the border, then weeding and distributing any excess soil over the rest of the border to level and unite the whole extent.
I used the stones that I came across to mark the boundary between lawn and border; more as a visual aid than anything functional.
With this achieved, I could finally immerse the last plants into the ground to settle in before winter. There are spaces for plants still to come, those still to grow enough for planting out, and room for everything to spread. With the new-found space, I also moved some of the older plants around the border, finally tidying up the further end which has been rather cramped all summer.
While the cosmos elsewhere are still in full bloom, those here were finally showing signs of fatigue and becoming untidy, so I removed them and then brought the oak-leaved hydrangea forwards, further away from the fence where it had been concealed beneath the large leaves of the cardoons on either side. It should have space to sprawl here now. A few pots of pulmonaria still wait for the stack of pallets beside them to be moved; this last stretch of the border beneath the horse chestnut and beech trees will hopefully be cleared before the spring.
On the other side of the garden, I found space for the Euonymus alatus that was also generously given to us by my parents. It was a shrub that my mum had sought out a couple of years ago, but has been unable to find space for in their own garden. With luck, the spindle will give us a small fiery display of foliage this autumn despite its youth. I dug out a Cornus that would have been too close to this bush, and added it to the new border where its glowing stems should light up in the winter sun.
King of the Hill meanwhile turned his attentions to the kitchen garden, pulling up the last crops and companion plants from the two lower plots, and rotavating these to incorporate the extra soil we have added from levelling the garden. He used a scaffolding board to hold back one side of the bed which is now slightly higher than the adjacent path by the compost bins. With the ground emptied and prepared, we are ready to plant next year’s garlic, and broad beans to overwinter for the first time.
My last task was to empty and sift through two large rectangular terracotta planters in which we had put daffodil bulbs rescued from around the garden; these were showing good root systems which I gently unravelled so that the bulbs can be replanted around the borders. I sorted through a handful of similarly stacked pots a couple of weeks ago, and have already planted those bulbs along with new Narcissus, Tulipa sylvestris and handfuls of other bulbs around the front garden. Now I turned my attentions to the sweep of the new border, working my way along with a hand trowel to sink these recovered bulbs, interspersed with crocus and snowdrops. My mum recently gave us a seed tray filled with sprouting snowdrop bulbs from her own garden where they spread happily; there were hundreds of tiny bulbs in the tray.
Sadly time outran my bulb planting and there is still a small stretch of this border to populate, along with the border above, with a few dozen various bulbs yet to go in. The weather continues fair this week, although the winds are strong, and I hope that it holds until I can complete this.
As I look out over the garden this week, both ornamental and productive areas, I finally feel that we can allow the seasons to engulf us, and march towards winter with our heads held high. There is still much to do, but the garden feels more prepared now for the months to come, and I shall sleep easier.