Saturday 17 September 2016

Summer to autumn

Thursday morning it was summer. Thursday evening autumn. The mother of all thunder storms swept in and the temperature dropped ten degrees in the space of a few hours. Fascinating to experience, and a shame it is over. I am grateful however for the additional two weeks of summer, it has been hugely helpful in the continuing recovery of Chateau L's plant life. Since I last wrote another set of plants have started pushing up - including one of the biggies that will now look spectacular in a few weeks.

Didn't get up to much today - a long and hard week which included some long hours and a heavy night out. I struggled off to the patch this morning in the autumnal weather - a stiff breeze and grey skies wasn't helping migration much. A few Mipits over, but the morning belonged to the Swallows. Probably saw around a hundred, all heading west, with a handful of House Martins in the mix. Spotted Flycatcher still in Long Wood with a few bright Chiffchaffs, but it felt completely different. It felt like Shetland.

I'll be there in two weeks after a 2015 absence. It will be good to be back, but with two more years in my legs it'll probably feel a lot harder - luckily we've managed to find a Iris bed sub in the form of Bob. He'll be issued with a radio by me, instructions by Bradders, and sent IN. I then plan to track his progress from roads, dry stone walls, car windows..... 

With the onset of autumn proper and a sharp drop in overnight lows, I've been doing what all good gardeners do and have been getting ready. This mostly means hulking large plants back and forth. The terrace, a tropical delight in summer, is being gradually emptied, and the greenhouse is being filled up. Equally plants that spent the summer in the humid greenhouse are coming back into the house as I can't maintain adequate temperatures in there over winter. Over winter it becomes a place to park the arid stuff instead, cold and dry with a constant flow of air. It is now looking tip-top after my constant visits - I've repaired the lights and have tackled some of the harder to reach corners.The fans are working again, and there is cleanliness and ORDER. A happy three hours down there today rearranging stuff, and look at one of the benches - regimented calm. And instant blindness and possibly death if you trip....

The tall blueish plant in the middle of the bench has a bird connection. No really. When it was younger it used to live on Kensington Cliffs in Cyprus. When I went there this January I popped in with Andrew M to have a look at the Vultures on the cliffs. It was raining fairly heavily and the birds were sat around looking miserable. Whilst Andrew ran back to the car to avoid getting completely soaked, I made a detour to a magnificent Agave growing nearby in the sandy soil. I could not resist pulling up a small offshoot (one of the ways the plant reproduces). I wrapped the roots in wet paper and a plastic bag, and then popped it in my camera bag. It was our last day, and so later that day when home I potted it up and put it on a bright window sill. It was a mere 10cm tall at that point. Eight months later and it is approaching 50cm and has been potted on several times, I have never known an Agave with such vigour - it is now producing babies of its own - you can see one just poking up on the right. In time I will dig it up and put it in a pot of its own and no doubt it will romp away.

Thank you for reading my gardening blog.

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