Garden Views-09-September 2018

September 2018 began with a couple of glorious warm, sunny days with masses of insects in and around the garden. From then on, it continued the theme for August, with some rain on most days. At last our landscape reverted to the familiar lush green colours we’re used to. Temperatures were generally benign, and occasionally warm, with a whole clutch of wonderful cloud scapes and sun rises.

This was fortunate indeed, since a minor op at the end of August limited my ability to do any bending or serious garden work, but at least I could still walk around and observe the early sign of autumn, which was a huge relief. And the challenge of climbing up longevity hill to the Shepherd’s Hut for many of these views proved irresistible and beneficial too. 

In spite of the rain throughout August, as of the middle of September, we still hadn’t seen a single Waxcap mushroom in any of our fields – this is really unusual since they often appear in August. Though an enormous mushroom appeared beside one of my tree stump shaped mushrooms…Gradually more colour appeared in the garden. Cyclamen hederifolium have had a wonderful year…… and the upper hay meadow had a second blooming with Fox and Cubs and Cat’s Ears all relishing our decision to keep the sheep out until much later. 

In spite of larger than ever ewe and lamb numbers (36) and the very dry summer we now seem to have a surfeit of grass. 

It wasn’t until the middle of the month that the Asters really got going, with A. frickartii x “Monch” always the first to flower …Already by mid September we’d planted another 2,500 bulbs mainly Crocus, Fritillary meleagris, and Scilla mischtschenkonana, and also the first few Narcissi. I worked out a novel way of doing this with a 2 pronged weeding fork, which limited my need to bend over, or wield a heavy digging bar, which is our usual preferred method. 

A fantastic apple crop – the best ever – saw picking begin in fine weather in early September, and the pruning back of this season’s growth following on. The photo above shows about half of the crop, with nearly every variety producing some decent fruit for once! It’s always a jiggle working out priorities at this time of the year – bulb planting, pruning and weeding all need attention, the more so since shepherd’s hut construction this year has meant that weeding was a little ignored in late summer. The Hydrangeas haven’t really recovered this year from the effects of drought, though H. villosa has looked lovely as always, and the Lilium speciosum album look better than ever. What a shame that I haven’t been able to find anyone supplying more of these bulbs for the last 2 years. I did hear that they are a virus affected strain. I may try propagating some myself, once the foliage dies down.

The third week in September saw much less sunshine and increasingly strong winds and heavy rain. I tied down the Hut with guy ropes as a precaution as the first 2 named storms of 2018 arrived within 48 hours of each other. Gusts of 60 mph forecast from the prevailing SW wind direction were predicted and storm Bronagh saw 65 mm of rain fall in 24 hours on the 20th – one of the highest daily rainfall total I think I have ever recorded here.

At last a few more Waxcap and other mushrooms appeared in our meadows, though this year not a single Pink Waxcap.Fortunately after this pounding, a high pressure system built, and temperatures rose during the day with some dry and lovely sunny periods. A very early air frost affected the garden overnight on the 24th /25 th, which is quite early for us. The warm weather brought out butterflies, bees, huge numbers of hoverflies and even dragonflies into the garden. Once again a single self sown seedling Buddleja davidii excelled as attracting all these insects onto its blooms, which without dead heading, has kept flowering for nearly 2 months now. A true nectar feast. The month ended with nearly a whole week of similar warm, sunny and dry days.

Autumn colour started early, and strangely for this very odd weather year, both the Amelanchier canadensis, and Acer saccharinum produced better fiery changes than ever before.

Stalwart late September flowers loved these conditions and lit up the garden…

The rainfall total for the month was 172.1 mm and the PV monthly total fairly average for the month at 307 KWH. But already with the last 3 months of the year still to come, we’d surpassed the total light recorded here during 2017.  Which confirms both what a gloomy year that was, and also how we’ve moved to the other extreme of variation just a year later, with one of the brightest years in our time here. Increasingly violent weather oscillations because of climate change perhaps?