The last day of October got off to a dull damp start. Sheets of fine silvery drizzle danced across the fields in tune with the advance and retreat of leaden clouds above. Even the cattle were quiet today, seeking shelter on the lower slopes, so that the constant drip of rain from the gutters outside formed the day’s predominant score.
It was early afternoon before the air cleared and a brightness slowly spread across the land, restoring its true colours. The sun finally broke through for a welcome spell before sinking all too soon, to be claimed once more by the gathering clouds upon the horizon. With the clocks sent back an hour and winter rapidly approaching, the garden is subdued now; patches of bare earth appearing where once billowing blooms scrawled across.
I have pulled out some of the declining cosmos in the past weeks, the better to find the weeds below when tidying up and editing these beds for winter. The remaining plants continue to put on a gentle show, accompanied by other splashes of late colour from the last rudbeckia blooms, the wonderful sea holly and the turning leaves of the spindle that I planted a few weeks ago.
The occasional plume of white gaura dances at the front, and the pink larkspur is still sending up spires, yet the tangle of decaying stems around them dominates the scene now while I continue to take delight from each glimpse of colour that defies the season still.
In the opposite border, there is still a sense of fullness by the house where things continue to bloom, but the newly planted belly of the border looks sparse. I know how much promise is buried in that earth, though, with bareroots and bulbs invisible to the eye, that should bring a very different picture next spring and summer, if they survive the winter to come.
There are patches of interest against the dark backdrop of soil, from the small but vivid stems of two Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ grown from cuttings of my mum’s plants, along with the sedum flowers that have now turned a dark red, and small flares of autumn foliage here and there.
The grass seed we sowed earlier in the month has sprung up, and from a low angle the join between old and new is barely perceptible, although a higher perspective shows gaps that have yet to fill. It gives us a very different view from the house now, though; this carpet of vivid green replacing the industrial grey and brown of compacted earth and building debris that we have lived with for so long.
The small herb-bed along the side of the house has filled out well for so late in the year, with the aubretia, hyssop and centranthus ruber still flushing with flowers.
Down at the end of the garden, the last ruby raspberries decorate their canes, while the leaves of the pear trees have begun to turn a soft yellow.
Behind them, the cages were dismantled to reveal the savoy cabbages and cavalo nero beneath; sadly despite our netting we still suffered some caterpillar damage. The young cauliflowers and brussels sprouts were decimated while still young, during a busy month for us, so we will not have any crops of those this year. More vigilance required next year! The savoy cabbages look good though, and I look forward to steaming and stir frying them and adding them to soups through the winter.
Leeks, celeriac and parsnips continue to stand beyond them; we will harvest the leeks and parsnips later in the year, while we are now enjoying our celeriac crops – which are small but perfectly formed!
The bottom beds are mostly lying fallow now, with some beetroots, salad leaves and chard along the near edge still furnishing the kitchen, and autumn-sown broad beans and garlic already planted in the rotavated earth of the furthest bed. Sown just a couple of weeks ago, the early hardneck garlic ‘Sprint’ has promptly pushed pale shoots up, while a couple of bulbs of softneck garlic will be sown alongside later in the year.
All change here, as the garden slowly sinks into sleep, but already there are buds on the rhododendron and magnolia stellata, and the first of next year’s crops are dreaming of summer skies from their earthy beds.
Thanks to the Patient Gardener, for hosting this end of month view.