The leaves on my little amelanchier tree are showing orange and gold tips. The tubs of cosmos, zinnias and geums are finally running out of steam and the ornamental grasses are gently fading to blonde. I’ve moved the big succulents to the shelter of the greenhouse and brought my citrus trees inside as we prepare for the season to turn. And what a season it has been. I’ve been thrilled by my garden this year. Hard to believe that in February it looked like this….
Poor sons, chipping out concrete with blistered hands on a rather damp day…but this was just the start of what turned out to be a very rewarding journey.
And of course, that journey is ongoing. The autumn garden has plenty to offer. I have started planting bulbs, and preparing some winter pots. Just before the rain swept in, there was a string of golden days when I was busy collecting and saving seeds.
It was amazing just how much a small garden can yield. I gathered the following: morning glory, nigella, poppy, sweet peas, honesty, erigeron, Japanese anemones and gaura. I can’t think of a more therapeutic activity than de-podding the seeds and parcelling them up into little envelopes for safe keeping and swapping.
I’ve started a few seeds in my mini greenhouse, with the aim of producing sturdier spring plants. So far, it’s just a few trays of sweet peas, and some winter leaves, including rocket and spicy mizuna.
Before Storm Babet arrived, I cut some flowers and brought them inside.
We’ve had a few friends and family members staying recently, so some seasonal baking has been called for….this is a caramelised apple crumble cooling by the back door (recipe from A Table Full of Love by Skye McAlpine, although I did adapt it). My son tells me that he knows no one else who makes puddings! I only really make them when I’m feeding a crowd but I love to do it. Cooking at this time of year, with seasonal fruits, Bramley apples, pears and blackberries, is never a chore.
I’m still enjoying the tail end of the car boot season. As I’ve said before, I hadn’t been to any for a few years, mainly because I didn’t want to accumulate more stuff. But I have relished getting up early on dewy Sunday mornings and setting off with my shopping bag and a small pot of cash, just to see what I can find. I made some lovely purchases, the star of which was this beautiful old sampler. It literally blew off a table in front of me. As I bent to pick it up, I saw the pictures of straw beehives, herbs and wild flowers, all picked out with tiny colourful stitches, and I thought – I can’t let that pass me by!
I did a bit of research, following an outpouring of love on X (Twitter). In fact, I went viral with this photograph!
It turns out that the garden design was created by an interesting woman called Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, a gardener and author of various books on gardening in the 1930s. A printed copy of Eleanour’s cottage garden design prototype is in the Garden Museum, and I would like to go and see it and find out more. My sampler is signed ‘Winifred T Broom’ 1947/48. I wonder who Winifred was, or could she still be alive?
I’m told there is a similar sampler in Leicester Museums collection. I plan to look into this further, but work has been busy so I have not yet had a chance to pursue my investigations.
The pink painted stool is another boot sale find, upcycled for the kitchen.
I buy old terracotta pots whenever I find them. I truffled out a few at the car boot sale but this little lot was offered to me by a local person, whose mother was emptying her greenhouse. She follows me on Instagram and knew that I have a passion for vintage gardenalia, so yesterday I walked over to her house to collect two large, heavy bag-fulls. What a delightful collection. Some are hand thrown, and a few have the classic ‘Sankey Bulwell’ stamp. These pots were hand produced in Nottinghamshire until 1939 (mass production then carried on into the 1970s). Handmade pots have lovely wobbly edges, and with age, they develop a wonderful patina.
What will I do with them all? I can hear the question being asked. I plan to clean them gently, without disturbing the lovely colours and textures, and I will use them for bulbs, seedling etc, and also for display.
I’ve been writing for my usual clients, Kew magazine, Garden News, LandScape and Modern Gardens, and in any spare time, I’ve been busy painting. I have a couple of events coming up.
I am taking part in two sales in November.
This should be a lovely event, inside the wonderful vegan bistro and cafe, The Blonde Beet. I’ll be there with my tea towels, paintings and garden vintage along with some other local makers and producers.
On November 17 and 18, I’m taking part in an exhibition in Helpston Village Hall, Art 4 Ukraine. Most of the work is for sale, with 20 per cent of proceeds going to projects in the Ukraine. The villagers have been very active, and organised groups have chartered vans and delivered aid, such as generators and clothing, to the border. So every penny does go direct to the Ukrainian people. Worth checking out the event if you are local (Helpston is in Cambridgeshire).