After the days of rain and wind, the sun shone crisp and clear. It was an opportunity for the first of the Autumn clean-ups.
Taking the kitchen peelings down to the wormery, I hesitated by the woodpile. Blast! the wasp’s nest is most definitely active which still means a detour round the back. Tucked up under a pile of shredded bank statements, the composting worms look happy but some sack coverings over the top of their abode will keep them active through the winter. No slacking on the make-more-earth front.
In the courtyard garden there’s a palette of purple to pinks – not a colour one associates with November. Aside from the wallflowers which have just never stopped since April, all the fuchsias are blooming – belatedly but relatively profusely given that they (the hardy ones especially) were decimated in the summer by the toxic saliva of capsid bugs. Organic gardening often means that pests are the main beneficiaries. What eats capsid bugs I wonder?
And surprisingly the semi-double, miniature rhododendron is on show – up til this year it has mostly withered in the bud, munched no doubt by Blake’s ‘invisible worm that flies in the night’. This is the first time I’ve seen the shrub with so much flower – let alone at this time of year. For the past 6 months it has idled in its pot,on the top of the garden wall, like a child in the naughty corner. This treatment has obviously worked wonders and now I’ve brought it back into the limelight.
More in keeping with Autumn, the claw-leaved Acer ‘Trompenburg’ is suitably lobster pink and makes a pleasing contrast with the bold evergreen Japanese Aralia now putting up its satellite blooms. No wonder the wasps are still going strong – they feed here, as well as on the similarly-designed ivy flowers.
Nasturtium creeps ever onward in the top border, trailing mandarin hues along the lengths, and although I’ve not had sight nor sound of pollinators, a pot of Viola Deltini ‘Honeybee’ creates a stir alongside the cheery, winter cherries of Solanum. Sighting the warm hues of a Pelargonium’s citrus variegation, I’m reminded that now is the time to bring the less hardy ones inside, as the North wind threatens biting weather next week.
Even with the necessary staking, the tall but brittle stems of Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ took a battering from St Jude’s day winds but I’m pleased that most held their ground. This Sage is a favourite; 5-6 feet of dense, textured foliage ending on stripes of furry lavender flowers. It brings an unusual touch of pastel to Autumn whilst alongside it, the scarlet Salvia elegans is just beginning to bloom, in readiness for Christmas by the looks of it. And smelling like a pineapple with accordingly edible leaf and flower for salads and teas. Beautiful and useful; altogether a very elegant shrub for winter colour in sheltered places.
And did I mention the litter of leaves? It makes a lovely sound, the rake on gravel, though separating the debris from the tiny stones is a zen task and one that will continue for a while judging by amount left on the trees. Still the gatherings will be humus for the soil in a year or so and meanwhile is good practice for my meditation. Just before the wind blows again, everything in the garden is tidy.
Written for Diane so that she can stay in touch with the Courtyard Garden wherever she is in her travels.