There must be something odd about me, because autumn is my favourite season. Ask most people and they will say spring, or summer – or even around Christmastime, but autumn is definitely the season of my choice.
There is so much going for autumn. The misty mornings that overnight have highlighted every spider’s web with moist diamonds, or that typical smell of leaves just starting to fall. This year there has been an abundance of fruit, plenty to share with the birds – and even wasps, if you’re careful to look where you’re walking. Every year we have a wasps’ nest in the thatch over the porch; often I don’t even notice it unless there are more than a few disappearing purposefully under the reed.
I always look on wasps as my friends, as they usually clear aphids faster than a vacuum cleaner. Yesterday I felt slightly let down though; inspecting some roses more or less underneath the wasps’ nest, I found a shoot with the thickest cluster of greenfly I have ever seen. Only one shoot, though, so maybe my organic pest controllers missed this one as it is rather overgrown in this area. I’m not sure whether you should talk to wasps the way you’re supposed to tell the bees everything, but, just in case, I spoke sharply to them about their sloppy aphid removal; now I have to wait and observe the bunch of greenfly. If they’ve disappeared in a few days, I’ll know they were listening.
September at the Patch
September at the Patch has always been the month for field mushrooms – but, strangely, as the weather has been perfect for them this year, not a mushroom to be seen. There have been dozens of other fungi, but none I would dare to sample – field mushrooms are the only ones I know I’m safe to eat; as a small child we lived next door to a field white over with mushrooms every autumn so at an early age I knew what was safe and what would probably wipe me out. Every year in the garden here, we get a fascinating crop of what I’ve always called ‘dead man’s fingers’ on an old mountain ash stump. They slowly disintegrate over the summer, but as reliably as a radio controlled clock, by the beginning of September they are starting to regrow, getting bigger and bigger until the weather cools off in early winter. One day, I suppose, they will have consumed their host and they will disappear; I shall be sorry as I find these macabre structures fascinating.
My Early New Year’s Resolution
My early New Year’s Resolution this autumn is to turn over all my summer hanging baskets to begonias next spring. Those that I overwintered in the same baskets and compost have done the best, but they will need repotting next spring as they are showing signs of overcrowding – the new ones I bought as plug plants will probably not need repotting until 2015 (what a thought!). Even though it’s October next week, the colour in the baskets in full sun is still radiant, but our weather is fickle at the best of times, so by the time I write my next blog, you may not see their brilliance for a thick covering of snow – who knows?