There has been some brisk rainfall over the last few day and the promise of some cold nights and cool days to come. Today is bright and the sunshine summoned me outside. A trip to the Garden Centre first, to look for seeds for some of next year’s vegetables, and a visit to the allotment. I was in the mood to move manure, but suspected the ground would be too wet, despite the plot being on a slope. My little piece of Wiltshire wears a heavyish clay soil and one look was enough to convince me I would do more harm than good by working it .
I contented myself with covering the emerging broad beans with horticultural fleece, to give them a little protection from the forecast frosts. I also carted away bags full of couch grass roots, taking them to the green waste recycling centre on the way home.
Back at home I decided on a good tidy up in the garden. The frost has pretty well killed off the summer bedding now, although the fuchsias are still carrying a few flowers. I moved all of the pots of the patio, just leaving the ones containing the winter violas and bulbs and for next spring. I tucked the olive tree against the house and will wrap the pot with bubble wrap to protect the roots. If it turns very cold I will lift it into the house overnight.
In the vegetable garden, the fallen leaves from the red cabbages were removed and the strawberry plants had the old leaves cut off. I finally pulled out the vine of the Tromba di Albegna pumpkin. I felt sorry to remove it-it felt like I had become friends with it. But next year there will be more.
I took the opportunity to start tidying up flowerbeds, although I don’t like to cut down the herbaceous perennials until next spring. The old flower heads and stems act as seed banks and refuges for insects and thus as a larder for small birds. I had the constant companionship of bluetits, chaffinches and goldfinches as I worked. Whippy rose stems were pulled out, some tangled clematis growth removed and leaves swept from the hard surfaces and added to the compost bins. I have kept bags full of fallen leaves to make into leafmould, but today I added leaves to the compost to help lighten it.
Feeling virtuous at having made a start on the clearing up, I photographed the lovely, fragrant Viburnum bodnantense above and retreated to the house for lunch, taking a sprig with me. My dad grew it from a cutting and I have had it for about 15 years. Thank you, dad- what a lovely plant to remember you by. It will be in flower off and on all through the winter and into next March.