September flowers

A little late for the very middle of September, but still within the spirit of mid- month, here is a glimpse of the flower garden here this month.

The floweriest borders are the areas we established or revived this Spring, and here the predominant colour garden is purple, in all shades from pale blue through to darkest midnight, from the verbenas, sage, lavender and first flowering asters.

purplesElsewhere, as I realised as I was photographing for this post, there is plenty of pink, yellow, red and orange too.
The glorious autumn sunshine has really helped the dahlias and they  fill the garden with their warmth. All worries about slugs are over and at this point in the growing season it is easy to think of them as easy care perennials, although I am already trying to decide whether to lift them or leave them and heavily mulch. It was such a mild winter last year I got away with leaving them in, but surely this winter will be differesedum-birchnt.

Much tougher customers are the Japanese anemones-the gallery picture is Konigen Charlotte. They performed well last year too, but the flower size is quite small and I think they are ready to be divided and fed. The same is probably true of the sedums although they are such tough plants they seem to be doing well in spite of being neglected. Both are growing in dry shade under the trees in the south border, one of the hungriest spots in the garden and do far, least renewed.

Back in the summer  I bought a little plant of Francoa sonchifolia, the Wedding Flower or Bridal wreath and a new plant to me. The seller told me to treat it like a geum and having done so, it seems to be thriving, carrying a lovely new spike of pink striped flowers. This one is the variety “Pink Giant”. It can be propagated from seed, so hopefully there will be more of these pretty members of the Saxifrage family in due course. It’s shown in the middle of the bottom row of the gallery, a neat little clump of leaves and a graceful spike of flowers.

The rosebluetit on poppys are enjoying a generous second flush, and the two I planted late, Teasing Georgia and Claire Austin are both thriving despite the long, dry spell we have had.
As good as it is to see the summer perennials still putting on a show, there is no doubt the season is turning. Autumn colours are developing in the leaves and there are plenty of seed pods . This morning I watched a blue tit pecking into the ripe seed heads of the opium poppies. And sadly, the swallows and martins have all gone. The next few weeks bring the golden glory of the leaves and the promise of many hours of garden pleasure as we start on maintenance, and more excitingly, the development of a new area of the garden.


all in a day

It is a good day that begins with a visit from a kestrel. It was one of those days today when,on my morning visit to let the chickens out, I was visited by a kestrel, hunting above the meadow in the clear morning sky. I have seen kestrels  regularly and sometimes they sit on the telegraph wires, but watching them hovering is always a joy.  There’s been a hobby here too this summer, plying his hunting trade amongst the flocks of swallows and sand martins, whilst the kites and buzzards soar above the valley. There seem to be good numbers of both, suggesting there are plenty of rodents about.

Beside the pond, a female grass snake has a regular basking spot amongst the long grasses where the morning sun shines. She takes to the water if we disturb her, sometimes sliding across the lily leaves before submerging.This week she sloughed her skin, leaving her old one caught in the moss and rushes by the water’s edge. We were going to turn out the compost yesterday, but the first turn revealed newly hatched baby grass snakes, and hastily recovering them, we left the job for another day.

The season is spinning towards the end of summer, and the garden is turning blue and purple again with  the flowering of the asters and verbena. Clouds of butterflies decorate the swaying verbenas- the late season stalwarts of Red Admirals,  Small Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies. A single Holly blue visits the California Poppies. Earlier this year there was an abundance of Small Coppers and of the moth fraternity, Vapourer moths, their larvae now marching across various plants, backs topped with tiny dense toothbrush- like bristles.

The garden chores are becoming autumnal . We need to start hedging, and many overgrown shrubs need to be reduced to better shape and smaller dimensions. There are seeds to sow and plans to draw up for autumn construction. The days shorten but the job lists lengthen, as is always the way as one season gives way to the next.

At the end of  the day, returning to the chicken coop to shut them safely away, the kestrel has been replaced by hunting bats, and fat rabbits lope lazily down the bank and out of sight. The calls of buzzards are replaced by the hooting of young tawny owls , husky voices down amongst the willows, rehearsing stories of the cold to come. It is still summer, but the lease is almost up.