Monday, 10 October 2016

intimations of autumn

Autumn is here.  Two nights ago I put the electric blanket on.  Yesterday evening we lit a fire in the grate upstairs, to the consternation of the kittens who were not sure they liked a roaring conflagration inside their house.  Today I donned thermal leggings under my gardening trousers, and this evening we lit the stove in the study, which smelt dreadful as an entire summer's worth of dust burned off.  We haven't put the central heating on yet as you can't have central heating in only the second week of October, or until you've piled on the jumpers and sat shivering anyway for at least a couple of evenings.

Delightfully and unexpectedly and practically overnight, the autumn crocus have come out.  I was rather concerned on my visit to the delightful garden near Lavenham to see lots of different types of autumn crocus flowering, at which point I suddenly realised that I hadn't seen any signs of life from mine.  I scanned the gravel eagerly the next day, hoping to spot at least some emerging buds, but there was nothing and I began to fear the worse.  It had been too dry for them, or the ground was too infertile, or mice had eaten the corms, or they had been fatally weakened by the rabbits eating the foliage when they were still in full growth.  Then this morning there they were, insouciant violet blue goblets sprung from nowhere.  They are Crocus speciosus, which was not one of the types recommended to me by Rod Leeds as being really easy to grow, on the other hand I'm sure I chose them because the corms were relatively inexpensive.  Cost is not invariably but quite often a good indication of how easy and quick to bulk up different varieties of bulbs are, six  or eight pounds a bulb rarities generally being rare for a reason.

I had hoped that the showers would have started to moisten the soil, and I would be able to give up on watering the ditch bed, but when I went and stirred the earth with my finger it was still dry as dust.  Back went the hose to the bottom of the garden for another afternoon of drought relief.  At teatime the Systems Administrator warned me of a band of very heavy rain approaching from the north that was showing up on the rain radar, but it never reached us, dissipating over Ipswich and the remnants sliding off to the west.

The leaves of the river birches are beginning to turn yellow, and the amelanchier below the rose bank is turning red, though it never produces such a good display of autumn colour as its fans promise that it will.  The colour of the potted acers is starting to intensify.  Eddie Mair has not yet begun to flag his annual chat with the head gardener at Stourhead, so either the leaves there are not close to turning or the PM programme has decided to drop the topic.  Or perhaps I am not listening to PM so assiduously as I used to and I've missed it.

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