After a brief Indian Summer, I am suddenly very aware that Autumn is here – the depth of colour in the trees is becoming distracting as I drive along country roads. It will not be long before I am sweeping fallen leaves out of my newly-constructed pond. This is, and always has been, by favourite time of year. Somewhere around early September, usually, I am aware that the year has turned, and that the torpor of summer (even a nasty cold wet one like we’ve had) is about to give way to the excitement of Autumn. At the other end of the year, the same thing happens in February as it suddenly becomes Spring. But Spring has lots of fans, and does not need enthusiasts for its beauty and vivaciousness. Autumn seems to have fewer acolytes, but I am definitely one.
Curiously for someone who suffers from SAD and who could reasonably be expected to be depressed at the shortening days, I find Autumn invigorating. Not only is it the new year for academic courses, which have, one way or another, been a major feature of much of my life, but there is a sense of nature getting ready. The swallows and the martins head off for summer quarters. There is the prospect of the murmurations of starlings on the Somerset Levels to look forward to. The boughs are laden with fruit and berries like a giant open-plan larder. It feels as if they year is gathering in its supplies for the winter to come.
I’ve bought logs for the wood-burning stove. I joined my neighbours in a collective apple juice pressing day which resulted in unfeasible numbers of bottles of wonderful juice. I have pureed apples and frozen the results, to liven up porridge on winter mornings. I have picked raspberries from the garden.
The garden – ah, yes. The garden was supposed to be like a scene from The Good Life by now, but sadly I got flu in the Spring and lost 6 weeks of gardening time at a crucial time, and then engaged two consecutive gardeners to help me deal with the resulting jungle, only to have them not get back to me for, literally, months. By high summer it was a seriously daunting project and way beyond me, but fortunately my lovely neighbour put me in touch with the delightful Jan from http://www.blueshedflowers.co.uk/ who has been doing her magic over the past couple of months, and I am now optimistic of being able to get the veg patch up and running for next year. Finding huge quantities of raspberries was a bonus! This garden has all manner of hidden treasures, so the year has not been completely a lost cause as I have had the chance to see what is here already – moving in during Jan/Feb meant I hadn’t a clue what I’d inherited.
One garden success has been the pond – a tiny pre-formed liner, intended as a wildlife pond. I have to mention in dispatches here the heroic Judith who dug and installed it for me (with remarkably little bad language) on a muggy summer’s day. The tiny frog which has already taken up residence in it is very appreciative too! All manner of other creepy-crawlies have moved in as well, so I shall be interested to see what develops. I built a bench and got a table for the garden during the summer, so next year I can sit and watch pond life in comfort! I’ve been consciously planting for wildlife, with lavenders and buddleia, as well as for my own consumption in the herb bed. I look forward to sharing pics of the first pickings from the vegetable patch next year – I’m looking at growing broad and dwarf beans, chard, salad leaves, garlic, spring onions, possibly some carrots and potatoes, and whatever else takes my fancy when I peruse the seed catalogues. Meanwhile, in the next few weeks I need to plant up the big pots of tulips for the back doorstep, and alliums and fritillaria in the garden. I got a bit overexcited about buying bulbs this year…