Garden Views-10-October 2017

October was ushered in, locked into the grey, damp weather pattern that has predominated here since early July. Brighter light for photography, or interesting cloud scenes have been unusually infrequent, but still delighted when the clouds parted.As the month progressed, this weather pattern continued, with only 3 days with no rain by the 23rd of the month.These conditions impacted on some late flowering plants – the Asters struggled to put on a good show, but throughout the month the Saxifrage fortunei were real stars and we now have hundreds of seedling forms dotted around the garden. The first snowdrops responded to this very strange long run of mild, grey, damp weather by emerging nearly 3 weeks earlier than ever before heralded by G. reginae-olgae  ‘Cambridge’. It was indeed strange to see these flower shoots emerging just a few yards from a cluster of butterflies nectaring on Asteraceae in the retyred matrix garden on October 5th. By October 10th these flowers had opened, and ended up taller than ever before, appearing way before the leaves develop. A first Cyclamen coum flower was equally early, (October 9th) although our Crocus speciosus seemed later than usual, and struggled to open for long in the poor light. Snowdrops seem to be more sensitive to warmth, rather than light, to induce flower opening, once the flowers are above ground.

We enjoyed a last sighting of a Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui, in the garden in early October too.

Autumn colours were surprisingly good in view of this, but storms Ophelia and Brian from the middle of the month meant many native trees were leafless by October 25th.   Work continued through the month installing new compost areas towards the bottom of the lower meadow copse, together with a new circular path through this area, replacing the slippery mown grass paths which had sloped in 2 planes. Fiona continued with huge determination, grubbing out youngish ash tree stumps from the meadow copse with a mattock. We’d planted these perhaps 17 years earlier, as dug up seedlings, with the idea of creating a symmetry of copse on either side of our approach track. Initial ground cover planting continued in this area.

The month ended with 2 dry days, which with the first 3 days of November having no rain either, at last gave us an “extended” period without rain, for the first time since the beginning of July.

The rainfall total for the month was 129.5 mm, which is not really excessive for us, but the PV inverter output record of 166KWH was once again below our average for the month. The consequence of the weather’s impact on the state of the ground was made clear after the annual visit of a contractor to trim the track’s access hedges. Never before have we been left with such a sea of mud.

But all this damp weather meant a bumper year for our meadows’ increasing range of colourful waxcap mushrooms.And even more mushrooms on mushrooms.

And once again, masses of grass going into winter.The end of October always now leads to a crescendo of flowering of our Saxifrage fortuneiAnd this year, even with the premature loss of many Acer leaves, the effects have been stunning.So in the end, not a bad mid-autumnal month.