a last breath of summer

After the cold weather of last weekend  the start of this week was milder and damper, allowing us to plant the cordon apple trees that were delivered by hand on Saturday from Jasper Trees of Leominster. The trees are lovely, sturdy one year old maidens and all are safely planted in their new bed and have been toasted in cider to welcome them. We will celebrate properly on Old Twelfth Night, January 17th, when the baby orchard will be wakened,evil spirits, should any have dared to wander in, driven away and the health of the trees toasted in the custom of wassailing.

In the meantime, we hope they will start to settle in to their new quarters and the final tree for the cordon that Jasper Trees don’t stock will be  delivered soon.

I gathered a last bouquet from the garden yesterday. As well as the white scabious, asters and geum, three different roses are still blooming. I don’t know what the white one is. It grows on long arching stems and looks as if it should be treated as a climber. The pink rose in the centre is Brother Cadfael and the large pink buds belong to Spirit of Freedom,  both of them being David Austin roses and both beautifully scented. There are still Marguerites and gazanias in flower in containers, but generally the summer planting is going to sleep for the winter, while the winter stars are  not yet shining. I can’t wait to see what appears.



From the bottom of the garden there are lovely views over the River Teme  meandering across its flood plain below us. There are oxbow lakes off to the left with a colony of Canada geese grazing their banks and on the river we regularly see Mute swans, or rather more often hear the strong whoosh of their wings as they fly along the course of the river.

It was a good day for birds today. A red kite hunted overhead whilst a buzzard was mobbed by the rooks that have suddenly become noisy. There are always buzzards about here, and the kites have been over quite frequently. I saw a bird of prey cloaking its kill in the water meadow but by the time I had fetched the binoculars for a closer look, it had gone.

We put up the posts for the cordon apple trees this afternoon, having prepared the bed earlier this week. It looks as if we will be ready for the trees when they arrive later on this month. There are 2 overgrown,mature trees in the garden too and as both are reasonably healthy we may have a go at renovating them. One, excitingly, is carrying mistletoe. How splendid id that?

One of the next jobs is to weed some of the beds and cut back some of the tallest perennials to a more manageable height. Another job will be to edge the beds to control the spread of grass into them. That in itself will keep me quiet this winter, as there are some hefty borders here. Very excitingly I have been finding hidden plants and some of them still carry fragile plant labels.I love knowing what varieties of plants are growing here, especially as there are acid lovers in my life now, a rare treat after living in Wiltshire for nearly 2 decades.My star discovery so far is an in bud Hammamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ that is being overshadowed by a large and as yet unidentified shrub. My shrub knowledge is being challenged and found woefully lacking at the moment.Time to add a book to my Christmas list I think.