In the past week it seems like someone clicked a switch and turned on Autumn – there's a chill in the air and damp, dewy, mistiness hangs over the garden reminding us that we live in a valley where cool air nestles until midday.
I haven't blogged much about the garden this year, mainly it's because we've been busy with life and family stuff that has to dealt with come what may – consequently the garden has had to fend for itself. I have had a little time in the past month to do this . . .
. . . a new long narrow border planted with bearded iris, red-hot pokers and alliums.
Elsewhere the garden had descended into a wild chaos – this is the Dragonfly Pond, the shallow pond dried up completely in the nine week drought but it is now full and has joined up with the deep pond through the narrow dividing channel.
For hedgehogs that come into the garden for a drink (yes I know they do because they leave black droppings shiny with beetle wing cases on the lawn) I have renovated the Hedgehog Cave in the corner behind the pond. I wonder if they've checked it out yet?
At last the little plants in the big blue pot are flowering and make a pretty miniature garden.
Through the green door in the wall the vegetable garden looks as ramshackle as the wildlife corner! Despite the obvious crop failures . . . the three-sisters mound and the runner bean arch . . . . there have been and still are plenty of crops to harvest.
I have masses of herbs! I think it's one of my favourite things – to walk out to the garden and pick herbs to use fresh in the kitchen. Clockwise from top left, here is my (self-sown!) Italian flat-leaved parsley patch; a second flush of gorgeous Moroccan mint; sage which is perfect with winter veg and pork dishes; and Old English thyme – I think thyme is my new favourite herb, it's such a deep complex flavour.
The Rondo grape vine is looking very autumnal. We need to pick those grapes – they taste lovely but are full of big pips! We're not into wine making so we'll probably just drink the fresh grape juice. The hens love them (and the pips too) so if we don't eat them they get recycled into eggs!
This a first for our garden . . . Achocha.
The leaves look a bit like a herbal substance we could get arrested for growing, in fact it's one of the traditional food crops of the Incas from South America, a 'slipper gourd' . . . the little green fruits develop in the leaf axils. We tried a few chopped and added to cous-cous to accompany a tagine, they have a pleasant crunch and taste a bit like raw green sweet peppers.
The old Cox's apple tree has surprised us this year by producing some beautiful apples, the flavour is wonderful!
Bird's Egg climbing beans, from the Heritage Seed library, have been the one successful bean this year. I've left a few pods to ripen on the plant – worth it for that wonderful colour!
More splashes of colour from the rainbow chard leaves. I wouldn't be without chard in the vegetable garden, it survives whatever and eventually rewards you with a good crop! And it's so useful – I add the leaves and stalks to curries, casseroles, risottos, frittatas . . .
A stray self-sown leek seed-head – as attractive as those border alliums – it's sometimes worth leaving the garden to do it's own thing.
So, that's the end of the autumn garden tour, I'll sign off with this photo of Tarragon the Lavender Araucana cockerel. He's lived with us for nine months now and I'm getting used to the fact that the hens are 'his ladies' and not 'my girls'. Tarragon is moulting, he's covered with new quills just unfurling and he's growing a beard and moustache! His designer-stubble looks quite rakish!
I've a diary packed with exciting things to do and places to go to, so I think I need to take a short 'blogging break', I'll be back sometime in October and I'll tell you more about my plans for these ******mas events.