September, and the beginning of October saw some remarkable and glorious weather here. After all the rain in August, the prolonged burst (can a burst be ‘prolonged’?) of warm, dry sunshine brought about a sort of ‘second Spring’. Roses flushed up and are still full of buds. I have Digitalis putting out new flowering stems, and I even saw an apple tree in blossom the other day (though that did verge on the distinctly troubling). I can’t remember an autumn which has begun with the gardens looking so very green – none of the prolonged decline into dry barrenness which often follows the end of summer.
Nevertheless, all good things come to their proverbial end. The new week began with a torrential downpour which lasted through most of the day. It was not a great day for gardening, but I spent it profitably and pleasurably, tidying up a modest patio area for a client. There were some shrubs – most notably a large and unruly Pyracantha – to cut back: though I managed to leave virtually all of its heavy crop of scarlet berries intact – they will be devoured by Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings when the weather gets colder.
More enjoyable (and less scratchy) was the process of emptying out, splitting and repotting a number of herbs. And then potting up planters and pots with a mixture of spring flowering bulbs. This garden is rather exposed and windy, so all the bulbs were chosen to be smaller varieties – Iris reticulata, Narcissi ‘Minnow’ and ‘Rip van Winkle’, and Tulipa ‘Tarda’. ‘Tarda’ is a wild, reliably perennial (and naturalising) tulip, hailing from the steppes of central Asia (cue Borodin) – very unlike the more familiar varieties, but ideal for pots and rockeries.
The pots were then planted with a few autumn-flowering Cyclamen hederifolium which will provide some colour until the bulbs begin to poke through.