8 Nov 2016

On autumn days like these ...

Gold leaf

At this time of year my inner bear wants to start hibernating. With sunset currently at around 4.15, even after the clocks have been returned to Greenwich Meantime, there's very little gardening that can be done after dark.  Maybe I'm being shortsighted and should be potting up seedlings by candlelight in a greenhouse or digging by the light of a few well placed torches. Or maybe not.  It's tempting to get bogged down emotionally by the shortened days, darker evenings and damp misty mornings which, for those having to go out and earn a crust during the week, means less gardening. Throw in a few rain soaked weekends and it's enough to bring on a severe case of the glums. But, just occasionally, we're given a gift from the gods of a perfect autumn day (or morning) and we've had a few of those this past week. I woke up to another of those days on Sunday which meant I could get work done in the garden and allotment. A slight "WooHoo!" moment ensued as I opened the blinds, even though it was quite chilly outside. By mid-afternoon the rains came down and I returned home, unused strimmer in hand, soaked through. Welcome to the British autumn.




But even a short burst of blue skies is enough to put a smile on my face; the colours of autumn on a sunny day make me want to reach for my paintbox.  One day last week, I think it was Wednesday, I was wandering around the neighbourhood marvelling at all the berries and fabulous autumn colour against a blue, blue sky.  On days like these, it can take me a long time to get where I'm supposed to be going as I'm dragging my iphone out to take pictures every couple of steps.  Yes, even in London.  Or, perhaps, especially in London (or any urban sprawl) where splashes of autumnal colour can alleviate the city monotones of concrete, glass, metal and tarmac.

Pink Rowan berries

Splashes of colour are mostly seen in private gardens or from street planting - Hampstead Heath is still mostly green and gold although there are lots of berries.  At home, there's coppery gold seen from my window as an ornamental cherry loses its leaves but, in the veg patch, the strawberry leaves and pineapple sage flowers win the day.  (Which reminds me, I must have a look to see what else is still flowering.)

And while autumn slowly tightens its grip on nature, I'm whiling away the darker evenings with planning for next year and some crafting: painting a new seed box, twisting gathered creeper stems into quick wreaths and knitting an essential pair of fingerless gloves.  And there's always reading; has anyone got any recommendations for a good page-turner? I'm currently reading 'An Orchard Odyssey' by Naomi Slade; part story, part reference, excellent read for any fruit grower and inspiration for wannabe fruitarians. I'll be reviewing it soon here.

There was frost on the rooftops this morning for the first time. I wonder if this is going to be a harder winter than last year?  I can't remember seeing frost this early in November in London in recent years. I don't mind frost but it would nice if we didn't get the winter storms of last year.  Let me leave you with a few warming moments on this chilly day.

(Top to bottom, left to right)
Strawberry leaves, blue (now purple) hydrangea, quince and borlottis
Sweet potato and garden beetroot soup (delicious!), garden gatherings (very odd double radishes), cornus against ivy
Pumpkin (obvously), Creeper berries, quince crumble with a lovely nutty topping


And, finally, I'm in awe of this sumach tree (Rhus typhina) - could there be anything more beautiful? It reminds me of a woodblocked Indian print.


21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! A nice warming post for chilly days!

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  2. Gorgeous images. Last weekend in the Black Mountains was stunning with rusty orange bracken covering the hills but Autumn is somehow even more thrilling in an urban area. Book recommendation: Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds. I am often confused by poetry and find it requires too much of an effort but I picked this up when staying in London recently. It was on the bedside table and I read it through and then I read it again. I've since bought it and read it again before passing it on. Awesome to say the least.

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    1. It's all in the detail in an urban environment but I love the huge sprawl of nature that you find on Cornish cliffs or the Yorkshire moors. The sight of that bracken must have been stunning, especially on a sunny day! I'm going to track down the book that you recommend as I'm also slightly overwhelmed by poetry and this book sounds like quite a serendipitous discovery!

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  3. Oh what gorgeous photos, such beautiful colours. I especially like the radishes and borlotti beans. And the quinces, I'm very envious of anyone with quinces. Glad you managed to get a tiny bit done in the garden. When I asked for book recommendations someone mentioned The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and I really enjoyed it. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks, CJ, the colours of autumn can be very appealing. I'm experimenting with muted colours in autumn wreaths at the moment and trying to make muddy colours equally appealing!. I have two quince trees but one has yet to fruit. Having quince fruit in the kitchen is rather lovely, there are lots of recipes to try out if I get a few more next year. Thanks for the book recommendation, I've looked it up and can get it from my local library. I like historical novels.

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  4. Beautiful autumnal pictures I'm reading Nigel, my family and other dogs so far really good:-)

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    1. Thank you Cristal! I do love Monty's dog Nigel and Monty writes a good tale so I can imagine that his book is a nice cosy read.

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  5. Gorgeous photos, Caro. Signs of autumn are so welcome in the city, I remember. We don't often get frost here either because we're so close to the sea. It's super-cold when we do. I've just finished reading 'The Dust that Falls from Dreams' by Louis de Berniers which I thoroughly enjoyed. Before that I read 'All the Light we Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr which I loved. Here's to more dry weekends for gardening. Sam x

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    1. Thanks for those recommendations, Sam - they both sound exactly the sort of book that I'd enjoy and I'd not heard of either of them. :o) My parents' house is close to the sea in Hampshire and I can only remember one harsh winter in the past 25 years when the sea froze close to the shore. It was an amazing sight! (But not a winter I want to repeat any time soon.)

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  6. Oh your post with its colourful seasonal images has really warmed me up on a very cold and wet night Caro. No frost here yet so far but my "inner bear" is coming out too. It's time for all good bears to hunker down. Not gardening related but I've just finished reading 'The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox' by Maggie O' Farrell, which was one of those books that I simply did not want to put down. I echo CJs recommendation.

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    1. Aaah, great, good to have a double recommendation for a book, Anna - and I'm pleased that you've read that particular Maggie O'Farrell; I read it a couple of years ago on holiday and couldn't wait to get back to the tent to carry on reading! It's a haunting story that has stayed with me. I'm also going to read a book about hygge, I think my bear might be Danish! Cxx

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  7. Cold and bright is fine, cold damo and miserable - not good.

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    1. Absolutely! Cold and damp is definitely not very motivating although I often find that on overcast days it's warmer outside than in, especially if I've been sitting in front of the computer. Aren't you used to the Yorkshire winters by now, Sue?

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    2. Actually where we are winter's are often not too bad as we are in the Aire valley withing the Pennine shelter belt. There is often snow on higher ground around us and it misses us.

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  8. The wonky double radishes are really weird! As well as colour in the leaves, Autumn is the best time for fungi too. I have even had quite a few types in my garden this year - presumably imported with purchased soil and compost. I love Autumn when the weather is dry and crisp, but I hate the cold soggy days when it barely gets light all day!

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    1. I pulled them out as they'd grown huge and unedible and was amazed to see the double rootball - a first, for me! I even tried eating the lower radish, it was actually quite nice, not too hot. I love finding mushrooms growing wild, it's thrilling and reminds me when I'd go mushroom hunting as a child with my dad. It would be lovely if we had bright autumn days every day, wouldn't it!

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  9. A most enjoyable post, much of which I can empathise with. Lovely, colourful pictures showing what a glorious autumn it's been. I'm rereading Our Plot by Cleve West which is probably the best allotment book I've read. Flighty xx

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    1. The autumn has been good so far and I'm hoping for a few more days like these so I can get all my bulbs in! I was lucky to find a copy of Our Plot in a charity shop and snapped it up. Yes, definitely, a very good winter read! Thanks, Flighty. Cxx

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  10. Those pink berries are an amazing sight especially against the bright blue sky! We have had the annual literary festival here this week. I have picked up How to read Water. Sarah x

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  11. Love the leaf at the top. Amazed strawberry leaves aren't mentioned more for their fantastic autumn colour.

    Books - all novels. (Hard to explain them without giving away the plot!)

    Threads - Victoria Hyslop - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Nazism, Greece. Profound sense of friendship and place. A geography of part of the second world war of which I had no previous knowledge. In history we tend learn set pieces instead of free ranging. Definitely a page turner.

    My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies - Fredrik Backman. A child learns independence, the nature and interconnected-ness of friendships and her family history by following a series of clues left as a death-bed present from her grandmother. A sort of jigsaw of acceptance.

    Saving Septic Cyril - Sara Alexi. The latest in the Illegal Gardener series but this time in Yorkshire instead of Greece. A woman newly arrived from Pakistan 'saves' her next-door neighbour from himself and others by drawing on her own background of extended families and people living closely with animals. (She also happens to have no sense of smell which is useful when visiting the un-washed!) Short and gently challenging.

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Caro x

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