Thursday, 28 October 2010

Tis the season...(for a bulb rant)

..for garden randomness, you never quite know what you'll find when you step out the door at this time of year. A garden full of wind and rain, leaves whipped from the trees and strewn across the beds and lawn, frogs hopping across the drive and us mere humans wrapped up tight against the raw biting elements; or a beautiful calm day, sun shining, birds collecting grubs as you work and you in a t-shirt smiling up into the blue sky.

I'll tell you what it is time for though, bulb mania. Not just the rush of trying to get them all in in time (I have to admit I always buy too many without knowing exactly where I'm going to put them) but also the distress of seeing all the beautiful pot's you've planted emptied of bulbs and the compost scattered.
Yes I'm talking about squirrels, the tree rats with a penchant for your Spring displays, those wonderful time capsules of flowering explosions treated like a quick fast food burger. It's not just the devastation that gets me it's also the fact that I know they don't care about the time and energy I've put in to thinking up the planting combinations and arrangements, they're oblivious to such delicacies as Tete a tetes ringing a central display of fragrant Daffs or the fact I've planted Tulips at different levels to flower progressively.
It's not just the pots they go for either, one year they systematically dug up all the Snakeshead frittilaries I'd planted out, they didn't even like them, they just dug them up and spread them about the garden ignoring the hoards of bluebells that I'd be more than happy for them to have a share of.
However this year I've discovered that it's not just squirrels I have to contend with. In one garden I foolishly thought I was safe having seen very few around and keeping all my prepared containers up near the house away from the trees and hopefully away from where the squirrels like to roam. It worked too, in a way. However a large pot of fresh soft compost can also be viewed as a nicely prepared cat toilet, bulbs either dug up or pushed out the way, compost looking like there's been a small detonation in the pot and big wadges of poo barely hidden (though hidden enough for me not to notice until I'd stuck my hands in to investigate).

Of course this is a mere trifle to the beauty of Autumnal light and evening birdsong it's still glorious to be out, the wind blowing away the cobwebs and steering thoughts to a hot cuppa and log fire. So I'll leave you with those thoughts and go and wash my hands once more...the smell of cat still lingers sadly.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Ramble, bramble, bimble thoughts.

After an early start to the day thanks to a crying baby and exploding nappy I found myself out in the garden with a cuppa as the sun rose and the day started. Many words could be used to describe the wonder of a new morning at the point it breaks into light, invigorating, awe-inspiring, tranquil but I'll settle for cold.
I thought I'd been out in the gardens enough recently to have starting my hardening off for the winter but this morning really caught me unawares, I mean where did that come from? Don't get me wrong I'm all for a proper winter and cold snap, it's good for zapping pests and disease and setting the seasonal clock of the garden and okay maybe we'll lose a couple of plants we rather liked but thought we'd risk outside but there's a beauty about a proper winter.
The thing I realised as I stood shivering with my tea was it wasn't even that cold. There was no frost on the ground, the grapes are still fine and the the indoor plants I have out for summer (mainly Money plants Crassula and Bird of paradise Strelitzia) were still alive, though I am now aware I need to bring them in. The only real cold was in me and the suddenness of it the temperature drop, Thursday morning was wonderful, a little cold maybe but enjoyable to be out in all the same but by Friday morn you really felt it nipping at you first thing. The days are still being very Autumnal and a general pace of work easily keeps me warm enough so I haven't had chance to prepare but who knows how quickly Autumn will now drift into Winter.

I've never been great with accurate measurements, I honestly don't care whether it was 3C this morning or that during the day it'll be around 13C what I want to know is what level of clothing is it going to be. Chatting to a friend about cooking the other day and he remarked how he measured ingredients by rough visual size, "use two fists worth of peanuts and a big toe amount of ginger" for instance. That's what I'd like as a way of measuring the weather, "it's light fleece and boots today" or "looks as if it's going to be a loose knit hat day" of course I'm well aware that the main problem with this is the varying levels of personal hardiness out there.
You can generally go out any day and see a full spectrum of attire, just sat here now I'm able to watch people as they pass my window wearing anything from a jumper right up to fleece, hat and gloves (and trousers obviously). I have a sneaky suspicion though that when I next see the postie he'll be wearing shorts apparently oblivious to the temperature and the fact that everyone is staring in awe and disbelieve.
My dad always seemed to miss Winter off his seasonal clothing list too, generally shorts or light trousers for most the year from what I can remember and in the depths of Winter he would be in Autumn gear and then the first into Spring cloths the following year. Crazy but also something to aspire too, I'll garden though most weathers but a fair few times in bad weather I've get through with determination rather than indifference.

Saying that it was nice to feel the cold this morning, a bit like welcoming a friend you haven't seen all year or rediscovering a happy memory. There can be a real enjoyment when out at in the nip of Winter (I know it may seem early to be talking of Winter but with the cold coming it pays to think ahead), having to work to keep warm and get the blood flowing is amazingly something I miss at the other times of the year.
There are garden advantages to this early drop in temperature to, not only will it kick start the gardener into preparing for the coming time with frost protection and moving of pots but it'll also do wonders for some of the plants. My Callicarpa which I've raved about all year is looking splendid, the leaves are a vibrant pinky red and the berries seem like purple suns glowing away against the dark earth below. The Verbenas are still flowering and the vines are dropping their leaves by the armful which is not only good for the compost but also means I can see and get to the grapes much easier; plus more light now gets through. Hopefully there will be a few dead pests around too and the weeds will be slowing down their assault on the garden.

So if you find yourself unexpectedly up and out of bed hours before you need to, grab a cuppa and head out in the garden for a muse it'll set you up for the day and who knows what rambling thoughts you might have.