Yes, Autumn is definitely here, but moving in quite a leisurely way towards Winter - the temperatures have remained quite high and there have been plenty of sunny days, although the colours and light are undoubtedly autumnal:
There is plenty of activity with the wildlife though, as preparations are made for Winter. All over the grass areas of the garden there are signs of digging and we are not quite sure what is doing this:
As we said in the last Post, the Autumn always brings a wonderfully eccentric display of fungi - and this Autumn is no exception. Each year we vow to be more methodical in recording the varieties that appear, and each year we fail miserably and we are reduced to commenting that we think this one or that one is new, in among old favourites. This year there are some wonderful cream coloured ones, looking like some buried porcelain that has just pushed its way through the earth:
Usually at this time the water lilies slide away under water, where they stay until April/May: but this Autumn it looks as if they will stay above water for a bit longer. Also a bit different, the frogs are still sitting around the pond on the sunnier days, and the carp are still coming up for a feed of dog biscuit when we wander around the pond. Graycie the cat remains very interested in the frogs, but is still a bit slow with her 'pouncing competencies'.
One of the sure signs of Winter approaching is the rate of fall of the leaves from the Virginia Creeper that surrounds the North and East sides of the house. Usually, with a few nights of minus zero temperatures the leaves start to peel off, covering the ground with an array of reds, browns, gold, and yellows:
In fact there are four Virginia Creeper plants surrounding the house and we suspect that they are different varieties, each differently acclimatised to the cold. But overall, if one walks around the house in the early morning, it is a good guide to the temperature levels that have been moving around.
And talking of temperatures: our vegetable garden is at the far end of the overall garden - it faces North, but is surrounded by large trees, mainly oak, that must protect it from the most extreme of temperatures. As I said in the last Blog Post, it looked like we had a really good crop of potatoes - and so it has proved. Each row has yielded up a solid crop, largely unscathed by bugs and beasties; and we are now taking the crops in, drying them off, and storing them in boxes.:
Other than that, our Winter crops are not exactly prolific, as the health issues this year have limited our time in the garden. But, we have some really good spinach (this New Zealand variety, which has proved really excellent); some Brussels sprouts; and some leeks.
November here marks some particular Public Holidays/Events - most notably, Armistice Day; and on the 1st of November it is All Saints Day, when families go to their local cemetery to celebrate the memory of their ancestors and take a plant, usually a chrysanthemum. We cannot be part of this of course, but we do buy a plant and place it on the little cross outside the house on the 'village green', where we having also planted a climbing rose (which has done really well, by the way).
The later Autumn and Winter is the time to cut back and prune hedges, trees and individual shrubs. We have done some 'tree surgery' outside the front gates, on a very old tree that needed some 'renovation'. And in the early New Year we will do some tree surgery work on some of the very old trees that run alongside the South garden - it is quite careful, gentle work - not just hacking at things, and if done well it is always a boost for the tree or shrub.
So, we will see what Winter brings. After what has been a very difficult year for so many people we hope that we may be able to reinstate some of our activities - like the Bruel Film Club, the Book Club and perhaps, in a low-key and careful way, a Spring or Summer fete. We'll see. But in the meantime, to anyone reading this Blog we wish you health and wellbeing ......