Last day of October

Salvia Guanajuato
Salvia Guanajuato with bee bum

After a foggy start this morning the sun is out, although there is a faint mistiness as I look across the field. It’s 16C mid afternoon. A huge streamer of spider’s web metres long gilded by the sun glides slowly westwards.  The tick and rattle of falling leaves is loud in the stillness, the ash and chestnut are nearly all done with shedding.

On the wing

An intermittent chack of jackdaws watching the chicken run for food and occasional burst of rook banter livens up the soundscape.  In amongst this the insistent calls of Long Tailed Tits and short bursts of Great Tit ratatat. Earlier the plaintive cry of a swirling Buzzard.

I’m waiting for the Fieldfares to turn up and feast on the fallen cooking apples (the fat Bramleys create a bit of aural drama as they clatter through the branches and thump to the ground).

Insects are having a field day, bees are working Salvia Guanajuato and late flowering Aster White Climax. A solitary Red Admiral absorbs the sun on the Verbena bonariensis.

I’ve seen a few queen hornets over the last few weeks seeking winter shelter. On balance I think we’ve had far fewer wasps and butterflies this year but quite a few waves of flies over the summer.

This bucolic peacefulness is occasionally being interrupted by commercial planes overhead which seem busier than normal, and now a lower flying army helicopter and then the boomph of guns on Salisbury Plain which shake the doors intermittently.

Molinia caerulea autumn colours
Molinia caerulea autumn colours – soon to collapse in a frosted heap!

The autumn colours seem to be really intense again this year. At the moment the sun is highlighting the vibrant pinky orange leaves of the wild cherry and the berries on the holly underneath. The hornbeam hedge and small-leaved limes are turning a rich yellow. Hostas collapse clumsily into yellowing heaps and many of the grasses are turning too. We are promised cold weather this week, more tender plants have been stowed in the unheated greenhouse or conservatory.

The Crocus speciosus I planted a couple of weeks ago are starting to flower but nothing of those I’ve planted in previous years – mice/voles eating the corms? I shall have to move the colchicum to sunnier spots, in the woodland bed the huge juicy flowers keel over and are eaten by slugs, now only a few sorry remnants remain flattened on the ground.

Last one standing


I’ve been pleased generally with the tender bedding plants. Isotoma axillaris looked good for months forming half metre high mounds of blue starry flowers, they’ve only recently shut up shop. Lilac flowered bushy Verbena La France from Beth Chatto performed and grew muchly all summer, I had to pull them up still flowering to get the wallflowers in a few weeks ago. Vibrant pink prostrate Verbena Sissinghurst, disappointing, didn’t really get going although a few flowers now. Eschscholzia Jelly Beans fab show of silky frou-frou flowers early on but faded quite quickly (the basic yellow one has gone on longer). The bedding begonias are fading and the amaranthus have collapsed so the last one standing award for bedding plants (apart from heliotrope, Geranium Crimson Unique and the one huge Ricinus which doesn’t count) this year is the Centradenia!

Looking at the Twitter stream from @TexanInOz the Botanic Gardens in Australia are awash with rhododendrons, lilacs, wisteria, wallflowers,  spring – weird.

Sorry to hear of the passing of nurseryman Michael Wickenden from Cally Gardens. I never met him but bought (and lost) many interesting plants from him over the years.

The clocks have gone back the nights draw in.