Autumn in Scotland is breathtakingly beautiful. I think it is my favourite time of year. Every morning I travel by train to Stirlingshire and the views knock me dead, they really do. I can hardly describe the sight of the rising sun striking golden trees above a ground mist with the billowing Ochils in the distance… you have to see it to believe it. And when I see it, I think again and again how lucky I am to live in this country of elegant colours and subtle lights, and how views like this make up for all the rainy Junes you can throw at me.
In the garden, November is a contrary time. On the one hand it is a time of death and decay, while on the other hand certain flowers are still in bloom, including my inexhaustible lobelias and some hesitant purple primroses. I even harvested a couple of tomatoes at the beginning of the month.
Gardening jobs at this time of year largely involve tidying, especially of leaves, and preparing for next year. But this November I won’t be making many preparations for next year: the Brazilian and I will soon be leaving this flat and its gardens to some future tenant, someone who, I hope, will take good care of the gardens, and who will enjoy the bulbs I planted last year. And in turn, we will be taking on a garden of our own; more of that soon.
Nonetheless, the broom awaits. Last weekend I cleared two large sacks of leaves from the front garden. We are collecting them in the backgreen to rot down for leaf mould.
Other Autumn tasks include pruning of roses. It is done to reduce the size of the plant by about a third in order to lessen wind-rock, but mine are so sickly I spent some extra time removing dead wood and some of the more hopelessly diseased twigs and branches. I can hardly believe that these bare sticks were once bedecked by these glorious flowers. Still, one or two of the roses had some buds still to come, which I cut and brought indoors.
I also cut and brought indoors many of the huge hydrangea blooms. Our hydrangea was so overgrown it could barely stand. Actually, that is an understatement: the entire plant had flopped right on to the floor. It received a severe pruning, from which I gathered armfuls of these enormous dying blooms and put them in vases all over the flat.