25 Nov 2016

Let's hear it for ugly fruit!

Windfall apples


Given that the meagre fruit from my veg patch apple trees has long gone, I could hardly believe my eyes when I walked into my niece's garden the weekend before last; at the far far end of the garden, the branches of the two eating apple trees were still weighed down with fruit. Not only that but the grass all around was littered with windfalls so the fruit was definitely ready for picking.

21 Nov 2016

A glimpse of the Chiltern Hills

To the barrows

What would make your perfect weekend?  There's always something calling for my attention so the ideal weekend for me is when I make time to step away from normal life and enjoy something different.  It's not often that a few days come together as faultlessly as they did on the weekend before last. For a start I had a free Friday - always a good start! I planned three days of bliss with one day gardening, one day at an RHS show and Sunday walking in the Oxfordshire countryside with family. With sun:rain:sun weather, I couldn't have wished for better.


17 Nov 2016

RHS London Urban Garden Show 2016

Cactus light

Hoping that the weather forecast was accurate for the weekend, on my agenda for a very wet Saturday was the new Urban Garden show from RHS London.  What's that? A gardener hoping for a wet Saturday? I had my reasons; I wanted to get along to the show without having to choose between indoors or outside. The pull to be outside on a sunny day is strong.


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.


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