Garden Views-011-November 2020

November began with a day of  heavy rain, which after October’s very high rainfall meant my hopes to allow the terrace Asters a little longer to set and drop seeds, probably wasn’t going to work this year. All remaining flowers being battered into brown mush as November began. One of the reasons why trying to leave dead perennial foliage to add interest through the winter months is doomed to failure in gardens in the wet West of Wales. Better to rely on early winter/spring flowering bulbs and shrubs to lift the scene…

After a wet weekend, a high pressure system established and we enjoyed welcome sunshine after the first of the winter’s frost to minus 2.5 degrees C on the night of the third.

Autumn colour has been quite fleeting this year, with most of the leaves off by bonfire night, which is how I always remember the seasons used to be.

Most of the middle two thirds of the month was a story of very little sunshine, often very gloomy grey days, and rain. But night temperatures held up until the very last few days when once again the sun returned for some gorgeous days, with a couple of misty and frosty starts.

I tried to delay cutting back remaining flowering plants for as long as possible to benefit the still foraging honeybees which were very active right up to the middle of the month, particularly on the Persicaria amplexicaulis in the matrix tyre garden. But in the end, the opening of the first few snowdrops, meant that I had to remove all of this by around the middle of the month, and then very speedily lightly mulch all the tyres with the first batch of leaf mould from the compost reactor, dried seaweed meal, and wood ash.

The first snowdrops emerged around the middle of the month, and by the end of the month about half a dozen had opened, so earlier than some years, but certainly not the earliest start to the season. Those other harbingers of the start of a new floral year, Cyclamen coum also seemed quite late beginning to flower this year.

Much of November is taken up with tidying up the garden, but this year the work has been more extensive after the revelation of discovering the need to defuzz the garden – many of the shrubs and growing trees have been left untouched for years, and we realised that the more woodland garden areas are steadily moving into a more mature phase. Clearing sightlines and views through the garden from the paths, allowing more light in to the understory will be a key challenge for the years ahead, as weeding in some areas becomes less of an issue.

I’m much happier with the way the trimmed yews are developing on the westerly border of the mossy croquet lawn, all these years after planting a half dozen scrappy seedlings salvaged from our Bristol garden. Another 2 or 3 years, and the (now) planned windows to the west, will be nearly complete. This after the initial idea had been to turn them into monolith stone like structures, serving to break up some of the prevailing winds which rush towards us across the mountain.

In the same area, early thinning of some of the at last expanding Camellia bushes, is an attempt to work towards more open cloud pruned effects which again will allow some wind and light through, and views to the distant hills.

This is very satisfactory work for gloomy damp days, since the visual impacts are immediately obvious, even if removing the piles of debris will have to wait until a dry spell allows a bonfire, and ash redistribution.

We’ve both had a lot of fun working up my most recent poem, “Dream Leaper” into a design for a significantly sized sculpture to form a focal point in the garden which has been in need of a statement piece for sometime, and await its arrival hopefully in time for Christmas.

Paths have been topped up with timber strippings.

Spirit has been relocated, shrubs and seeded saplings have been grubbed out or moved.

Neptune has arrived and been sited.

Fiona has reworked some of the stone filled tyre towers in the spiral apple garden, added supporting stakes for many of our path edges, and although we’re not quite ready to relax and enjoy the results of all this work, we feel that the garden is looking as good as it ever has at this fag end of the year. Although it’s occurred to me whilst writing this up, that this is really the month when we look beyond the garden, to the glorious landscape all around us, and try to work out whether our garden’s design sits comfortably in this place. In the main, we think we’ve managed to achieve this.

The month closed with another visible not quite full moon at dusk on the 29th.

The rainfall total for the month of 200.4 mm, and low PV output of 102.48 KWH confirms it was a typically dreary month, for what is always the least interesting of the the year here. However, scrolling through these images illustrates that even in this most trying of years, (with coping with the restrictions on daily life that the Covid pandemic has, rightly or wrongly imposed on society, together with the constant barrage of negative news in what we now know has been the biggest shrinking in economic output in the UK for over 300 years), we are extremely fortunate to find so much all around us in our garden in this wild and rural landscape, to bring us great joy, and lift our spirits.

Even when the grey murk descends once more.