The autumn equinox was everything a September day should be. The sun shone in a blue sky with a light breeze lifting the leaves on the trees and rippling gently through the garden.

Streaming sunlight in garden on September morning

For much of the day, I pottered around the garden. I pricked out seedlings in the greenhouse; some perennial dianthus, foxgloves, achillea and bergenia galloping along in their seedtrays for the past month or two.  Faith has recently claimed a seedtray on the lower shelf of the potting bench as her favourite sleeping spot, emerging from the greenhouse lightly sprinkled with crumbs of compost. I suspect she will change her mind as the temperatures plummet, but for the time being we draw the door to the width of a cat’s head and let her come and go.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly on scabious

I tidied up the borders, deadheading and lightly weeding, pulling out more of the rancid smelling but oh so pretty Salvia turkestanica, making my way through the long loose limbs of Gaura to move a phlox to a more prominent position, and relocating an ornamental grass, calamint and sidalcea to make way for Artemisia ludviciana ‘Silver Queen’  in the sunniest best-drained spot in the garden, in the swell of the long border. I also found a spot for a second Euphorbia martinii from a recent visit to my Mum’s garden.

Deep blue flowers of Salvia patens

Faith and Xander kept me company out in the garden for much of the afternoon; scaling logs and furniture, chasing each other, or basking in the sun just a cat’s length apart from each other – they have reached a truce, although Xander’s attempts to cwtch in with Faith are so far always met with a hiss and often a swipe. It’s funny watching him sidle closer while she is sleeping; like a teenage boy using a stretch and yawn to slip an arm almost unnoticed around the object of his intentions, Xander will stretch out a paw casually towards her and try to follow it in, always to be met with affront so far…

Black and white cat in September sunshine

The latest crop of autumn raspberries was picked, washed and frozen; while another trugful of runner beans was then prepared, blanched and added to the freezer, to the other bags of beans and tomatoes in various guises that will feed us through the winter months. It was almost six o’clock before we tidied tools away and came in from the garden, along with an armful of logs. There was a definite chill in the house, and the stove was lit for the first time in months besides an exceptionally cool June evening.

Wet September afternoon in the garden

Today we woke to an already quietly damp garden, before driving rain set in for the rest of the day, a scatter of brown leaves beginning to settle on the grass, hedges and trees adrift in the increased winds and two cats slumbering before the stove. There is still a surprising amount of colour in the garden, with most of the asters yet to open their buds, but here and there glimpses of quiet brown seedheads are beginning to intersperse the hot pinks, yellows and purples.

Eryngium giganteum Silver Ghost seedhead

While I dread the shortening hours of daylight and much of the dark cold wet weather ahead, there is a small part of me that is almost looking forward to the quieter palette of winter after the cacophanous riot of summer. I am curious also to see how our garden will fare, what shape it will take, which plants will stand up to the weather and which will collapse in a sodden heap, how much structure the garden has in slumber and where I need to pay more attention. I suspect all will be revealed only too soon.


24 thoughts on “Pivot

  1. Yes, it can be satisfying doing these little ‘tweaks’ as the garden begins to settle down and chill out after its spring and summer partying. And I admire your seed sowing – it really is encouraging me to get down to the garden centre and look out perennials I can sow now, although I suppose it’s getting a bit late. I haven’t ‘bothered’ with seed sowing for a long time other than veg or the odd annual, but it would be a good habit to pick up again.

    • It felt very good to clear up some of the plants that have been flopping onto the grass, particularly the salvias. I cannot resist sowing seeds at the end of summer, even as the spaces in our garden dwindle. Many of those I was moving on this weekend were sown about six weeks ago and have grown strongly. Some I hope to plant out, and others I will try to safeguard in our unheated greenhouse over the winter.

  2. It’ll be nice to have a little rest and put my feet up but I’m not looking forward to the dark nights and cold weather. Still, short of emigrating there is nothing to do about it but accept it. I spent yesterday tidying and making the most of the sunshine before the rain which has come today.

    • The cold dark mornings this week have already begun to take their toll on my high spirits! Will just have to convince myself to exercise more indoors, when the rains snatch away opportunity to work outdoors. Glad that you enjoyed yesterday’s sunshine too.

  3. I’m glad you had at least one day to potter about the garden and enjoy the autumn sun. I find your description of Salvia turkestanica very understated. I can’t bear the smell and have to shower, often more than once to rid myself of the rank smell. The common name of ‘Housemaid’s armpits’ is very apt. Strangely it doesn’t begin to smell until the flowers begin to go over, so I assume it is attracting something to spread the seed; although I can’t imagine what! Christina

    • Perhaps your strong sun draws out the aromatic oils of the salvia that makes it so acrid, certainly ours borders on the edge of acceptability for me, but it doesn’t seem to linger on me once I move away… Must be a particularly grotesque creature that is drawn towards its scent though 😉

  4. Have you saved any seed from the Eryngium? I’ve had a go at sowing some for the first time this year saved from two varieties – bourgattii and alpinum. I know a garden wher the former self seeds very freely so I’m hoping I’ll be successful. Shame that the weather has been so bad today although it did stay dry for longer here in ‘the North’ – it certainly feels that summer is now over!

    • Not yet! I keep intending to collect some from this one – before they all vanish. I have planted out some Miss Willmott’s Ghost that grew easily from seed, and should hopefully flower next year and then gently self-sow; seeds that I sowed of an E. bourgatii in the spring have not shown any signs of activity, neither has our E. planum ‘Blue Glitter’ self-seeded, but I shall try and collect and sow seeds from it too. Such a stunning plant family; hope you’re successful, I’ll look forward to hearing the results.

      • E. bourgatii and possibly some of the others need a period of cold to germinate which is perhaps why the spring sown ones haven’t appeared. I’ve left my seed trays outside with the hope that the winter frost will do the business. Apparently a spell in the fridge has the same effect.

  5. I like Autumn for me its the start of the gardening year. I can start to put in place all the things and plans I made over the summer and starting planning for the spring.

    • There are aspects of Autumn that I like, there is a peace in the dwindling of everything, and such vivid colours, scents and memories wreath like smoke on the crisp air. But there is a melancholy too, bittersweet, which settles beneath my skin. A good time to gather oneself though, and look forward as well as back… I’m already impatient to see which bulbs return in the spring.

  6. I used to like think about hibernating for the winter – not having to worry about the garden for a few months – but as I get older I resent being stuck indoors – our non-existant summer hasn’t helped.

    • There has been a lack of quality sunshine this year, for sure. I too hate being cooped up indoors, fingers crossed for some good crisp dry days over the coming months to make the best of outside.

  7. What a difference a day makes! Saturday was lovely – blue skies and sunshine all day – but today has been windy, with non-stop rain. Now I’m thinking about crop-protection all of a sudden.

  8. Hi,

    I wish we had a little more of the nicer weather coming our way and I dread tomorrow’s torrential rain at rush hour! But as you say, there is something lovely about the muted palette of autumn and winter and I can begin to set my mind to Christmas and various celebrations – just a shame we also have long nights…

    Glad to see you managed to get some jobs done – wish I’d done some plant moving too now. Oh well. There’s always spring.

    • I’m not a fan of the long nights that accompany this shift in seasons, though there’s always something to do inside or out. There are still some plants I’d like to move, but they’re still flowering… and one to split that’s got a bit leggy in the middle… Roll on spring, indeed.

  9. A glorious day to mark the arrival of the autumn equinox Sara – being outside was the perfect way to spend the day. Sounds like Faith has found the perfect spot for an afternoon siesta.

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