Autumn day

Today has been a lovely day. I visited three gardens, each of them quite different, but each equally rewarding to work in.

Firstly, a suburban garden with lawns and flower beds, shrubs and hedges. Getting the grass cut I noticed how thick and well it looked: obviously some of the feeding it’s been getting has paid off. You’d never know, to look at it now, that we’d had weeks and weeks without rain. A tangled and gnarly old Berberis needs serious attention to remove dead growth – but, there at the roots, new growth is coming through and with luck will grow to replace the aged parent bush. I slipped a handful of Winter Aconite bulbs into the bare spaces in the flower borders as I weeded. I often do this ‘guerilla’ planting as I work on people’s gardens – I’ll find a spare packet of seed, or an overlooked bag of bulbs, in my shed and take them with me when I am working, looking for a likely spot to pop them. 

Then on to my longest-standing client. Another suburban garden, but bigger and more unruly. Most of my time was spent tackling a mass of growth which had erupted in a hidden corner behind a rockery – hidden, that is, until now when it has emerged into the unforgiving daylight. No more excuses, then, and out with the Felcos: climbing roses, bindweed, an enormous Cornus – all felt the force of my cutting-back. And, two hours later, a rather neat and tidy picture presented itself. A lovely old Fig tree became the focal point it deserves to be, and late-flowering Sedums had access to the autumn sunlight (and bees had access to them).

FInally, my afternoon was spent working on a big, mature rural garden. A thoroughly enjoyable drive out got me off to a good start, and then it was back to work. Lavender to trim – I have lost count of how much lavender I have cut back the past week or two – and then deadheading Heleniums and Rudbeckias to keep the late flowers coming. One thing I particularly love about this place is that to reach the compost heap one needs to cross a medieval – possibly even older – ditch-and-bank which runs the length of the garden. It’s overgrown and no kind of obstacle, but it does give a wonderful sense of the length of human habitation here as I trundle back and forth with armfuls of autumnal debris…

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