November digging


“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…”

Keats’ To Autumn is one of the few poems I can recite.  Thanks to Miss Edwards, when I was 10. Little Timmy and I got the snickers over the word bosom, and she made us stand at the front of class, reciting it LOUD to the class with full gusto. We were both red of cheek; but I still welcome November with these words running in my head as I do the final chopping down of perennials and pulling out of the last of the cosmos.

I know we have had a lot of rain and wind. But in between, I quite like this time of year.  Because, as you clear away, you see the peeking through of green. It’s daffodil and scilla shoots of spring, already beginning to grow. And I love that feeling of next year’s flower hope.

November is unexpectedly colourful and fragrant too. We have a nerine in full flower called “major” which is deep red, and supposedly too delicate to live outside. My laziness last year meant winter protection never happened, and this year they seemed to have survived.  Autumn camellia, viburnum, and unexpectedly, rose, are also in flower, to spite the wet. Their fragrance near the greenhouse fills the air – a haven for rushing into between these horrible rainstorms. I was visiting a friend’s garden recently, and she had an amazing mahonia in flower. Not the usual prickly variety, but a new version called “Soft Caress”. I love the smell of mahonia, and this might be on my Christmas wish list. Our own prickly variety was buzzing with bumble bees in the sun on Monday.

Monty Don tells us that November is the time to dig up dahlias. We have decided to forget that. We live down here in Rye after all, so mulching will hopefully do. Slowly, we are cleaning pots, tidying away used plant labels and clipping back dead leaves from geraniums, all the kinds of chores I hate but I must do. Inside the greenhouse, I am regularly lifting the pots for slugs and snails. I was reading recently that the UK has over 40 species of slugs, and only nine actually eat my favourite garden vegetables and flowers. I am afraid I can’t tell which is which, so I remove all I find.

And the allotment? It is rather quiet. Still some weeding with the hoe. And final clearing. But mostly, just harvesting leeks and still protecting brassica.

Image Credits: Abigail Cooper-Hansen .

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