a quiet season

Autumn has dropped away into winter, sudden and cold and properly seasonable, although surprising for all that. It is the first season I remember in a long time where the contrast between the two has been so marked. As the floods subsided the frosts arrived and we have entered that period where there is no more than 8 hours of daylight.

When we can get out into the garden the edging continues and pruning and then trying to make use of the debris. We have a chipper, but it is very noisy, a great beast of a petrol driven thing and we haven’t yet warmed to it. It may need the blades sharpening too, so we are hand shredding and holding the occasional bonfire to burn diseased wood. One apple tree is completed for this season-it was very neglected but more remain.pear-wreath

A weeping pear, Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’,  tangled like the hair of a witch, has been pruned to thin out the thicket of growth. I wanted to let more light through the tree as it grows adjacent to the new apple cordons and thought about taking it out completely, but it seems harsh to remove a healthy specimen without giving it a chance to perform. A little elegance restored, and faced with a huge pile of prunings, I made the base of a Christmas wreath, winding the flexible, brownish purple stems around a metal former I bought on Hereford market last week. It looks pleasing so far, I think. Are you making Christmas decorations this year? I saw a lovely wreath here yesterday http://patientgardener.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/how-to-make-a-christmas-wreath-for-nothing/

On the adjacent farms hedging is almost completed in the immediate vicinity of our house and  it is becoming a quiet season, with bird calls the loudest noise we hear. No partridges in my pear tree, but there are pheasants under it….




From the bottom of the garden there are lovely views over the River Teme  meandering across its flood plain below us. There are oxbow lakes off to the left with a colony of Canada geese grazing their banks and on the river we regularly see Mute swans, or rather more often hear the strong whoosh of their wings as they fly along the course of the river.

It was a good day for birds today. A red kite hunted overhead whilst a buzzard was mobbed by the rooks that have suddenly become noisy. There are always buzzards about here, and the kites have been over quite frequently. I saw a bird of prey cloaking its kill in the water meadow but by the time I had fetched the binoculars for a closer look, it had gone.

We put up the posts for the cordon apple trees this afternoon, having prepared the bed earlier this week. It looks as if we will be ready for the trees when they arrive later on this month. There are 2 overgrown,mature trees in the garden too and as both are reasonably healthy we may have a go at renovating them. One, excitingly, is carrying mistletoe. How splendid id that?

One of the next jobs is to weed some of the beds and cut back some of the tallest perennials to a more manageable height. Another job will be to edge the beds to control the spread of grass into them. That in itself will keep me quiet this winter, as there are some hefty borders here. Very excitingly I have been finding hidden plants and some of them still carry fragile plant labels.I love knowing what varieties of plants are growing here, especially as there are acid lovers in my life now, a rare treat after living in Wiltshire for nearly 2 decades.My star discovery so far is an in bud Hammamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ that is being overshadowed by a large and as yet unidentified shrub. My shrub knowledge is being challenged and found woefully lacking at the moment.Time to add a book to my Christmas list I think.