It feels like a turning point in the garden. We are into the metrological autumn. This week has seen changes: the garden helpers are back to school, and the quotidian tasks of teaching jobs start to dominate. The dry weather has broken in a way which suddenly feels more permanent. We awake to fog, the cloudbase moving below us into the valley. Though by afternoon this can be forgotten, the sun is again warming, summer is having a last hurrah.
Astronomical autumn will start on the 23rd September, the equinox, and the clocks change soon after. Until then, what time is available is spent on left-over tasks from the summer, or giving in to the desire to start on winter tasks. Having miscalculated, a second order of wood arrived this week, of some final posts for the long-promised chicken run, and for the boundary of the, also long-promised, asparagus bed. The later now has a frame, and awaits being deep dug, and filled with composted organic matter which is in need of a home.
The last blackberries were harvested, and the larger squashes, though there are some more hiding in the foliage. These are Sunshine squash, though they seem to have set rather late, and I hope they mature enough before the first frosts. The foliage has overrun the path, which I suppose is a good use of space, if annoying. Our second attempt at Courgettes in pots on the patio has again spectacularly failed, perhaps down to lack of watering. The experiment of sweetpeas on the patio, on the other hand, was a success, both cultivation-wise and for having something beautiful to walk past daily, not hiding down in the raised beds.
Jessica pruned some of the wildness out of the wild roses, and we cut back some dead wood from the mass of cheery and plum trees which overhang the rhubarb. The field is full of Rowan trees, but a number have died. With a life span of 200 years, this shouldn’t be so; I think a badly timed late frost can hurt the budding leaves. Right by the chicken run is a long dead tree, the upper branches decaying with fungus, but there are shoots attempting to grow near the base, so I cut the tree down to just above these. Deer predation aside, it might yet have a second life. By rights, we should be pruning later, and this year I vow to leave the cornus canes to fully set into their deep red autumnal hue. The trick is to properly coppice them in early spring, something I have so far been too scared to try.
An attempt at Rowan jelly resulted in a slightly bitter concoction, but we shall try it with roasted meat on colder nights. An experiment at blackberry leather, using some of the eight and a half kilos harvested, tastes rather better, although has taken twice as long in a very low oven as the recipe called for. There is a family of juvenille pheasants in the garden, ready to race off when disturbed: a reminder that something of summer will continue.