November chill

The garden might be closing down for the year, but there’s so much to see in autumn. Far fewer hours in which to see it, though, so best to be up and out with the first rays of light.

November has arrived, and with it, autumn proper. A pleasing chill to the evening air for both hallowe’en and bonfire night, milestones in the calendar when, if we’re not to feel cheated, we should be able to see the breath in front of our faces. Good to see that 2016 has got something right. 

The moment the clocks went back, we were given a decisive shove into the dark half of the year. For over a week now we’ve been experiencing markedly lower temperatures and the sight of leaves finally being persuaded from the trees. On two occasions I’ve woken to frost – nothing teeth shattering, but sufficient to remind me that I really do need to take the pelargoniums in and persuade the fuel cap off the greenhouse heater (with a hammer, if necessary – WD40 and pliers have so far failed to shift the thing).

Frost on the yew.

Crisp, bright mornings for enjoying the spectacle of the low sun showing off the burnished hues of the season to their best effect. Even when the day starts grey and drear, it’s still a treat to arrive in the garden as the sun rises to see what’s changed over night. Which plants have breathed their last for the year, which trees or shrubs have flung their foliage aside, and which fungi have thrust a miraculous army of toadstools up through the ground while we slept. What a season.

The honey fungus letting us know that, despite not fruiting last year, it’s still lurking. We hadn’t been fooled, to be honest.

This autumn has been unusually dry – at least until the end of last week, when the entire month’s rain appeared to arrive in one afternoon. That particular afternoon found me out and about in a client’s garden, where I quite relished the drubbing, due in no small part due to the novelty. The forecast tells of damper, and cooler weather to come– even rumour of snow elsewhere in the country tonight or tomorrow. Our gardens sorely need the purgative qualities of a concerted period in the deep freeze – could it be we’ll get a winter this year? Let’s hope so.

Frosted leaves of the edible fig, Ficus carica, a carpet beneath the naked tree