Garden Views-11-November 2021

November began with a couple of beautiful frosty mornings, and periods of lovely light, on the remaining autumnal foliage.

Bulb planting was finished about a week ago with the annual tulip and allium top up, which left the big leaf tidy, and cut back to continue.

Even this was nearly complete by around the 10th, allowing the dried seaweed meal, wood ash top dressing, and this year, a mulch of chopped leaves to be thinly spread on those areas of the garden which don’t have a woodland habitat, as a means of replacing the debris taken away to be composted. All designed to be completed before the early snowdrops emerge, although I suspect this year, they will all be late, courtesy of the consistently higher than average day and night time average temperatures, for both September and October. Met Office figures show these were between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees C above the 30 year mean of the 1981-2010 period, for Wales – our own indication that significant climate change is very much in evidence.

“Arwen” the first named storm of this winter season has yet to be designated, as of the 8th, and we continue to experience many generally calm, still days.

It’s always a wrench to cut back Dahlia merckii, whilst bees are still visiting its lovely flowers, but in a year like this, at some point one has to take the plunge, with snowdrop shoots beginning to emerge, or risk damage to these when the ground is trampled.

There continued to be many waxcaps around the fields in the early part of the month, though on the croquet lawn, it’s mainly the earthtongues, with their incredibly long lived fruiting bodies, which hang around for many weeks.
The middle of November will be remembered for nearly 2 weeks with almost no sunshine, and generally very poor light levels.

But rainfall and wind remained insignificant, so although a modest year for autumn colours, many of our seedling Acers continued to light up the garden in these dull short days, and drop their leaves in sequence. There were still be quite a few leaves on trees on November 25th, which is amazingly late for us.

Equally the mild and gloomy autumn seemed to delay the onset of flowering of both snowdrops and Cyclamen coum.

Towards the middle of the month, I decided that all activity had ceased from the 2 underground wasp nests I’d found earlier in the autumn, so dug both out and was amazed by just how big the structures were, with probably 25 to 30 kg of soil excavated to create the cavities in which they’d expanded, and many thousands of precisely constructed paper cells in each. The largest was nearly 12 inches in diameter.

At last around 23rd, the gloom dissipated and we had a few more glorious sunny mornings and interludes, with at last a frost down to minus 3 degrees C first thing in the morning.

Very quietly the year seems to have crept forwards this autumn, and it’s hard to think that December is nearly upon us, as hedge laying has taken over as the major outside physical activity, apart from regular bike rides and walks.

The month ended with a final flourish, at last the first named storm of the year “Arwen” arrived, from an unusual Northerly direction, with massive damage in Scotland and Northumbria. Here, we escaped with no significant damage around the property, though local forestry tracks were blocked with multiple fallen trees.

The final rainfall total for the month was surprisingly low, at 69.75 mm, in spite of it being a typically dull affair, apart from a few lovely days towards the end. The PV inverter total of 103 KWH reflects this.

We entered December with just 1 cultivar of snowdrops with emerged flowers, G.’ Peter Gatehouse’, the fewest we’ve had in many years.