September Return

September is a favourite month;

in fact I’d rank it in my top twelve.

The light is sharp and low and the gardens look pretty good with much still in flower.  But there is a chill in the air that promises change.

It will soon be time for regular bonfires and leaf raking; time for the perusal of bulb catalogues while sipping huge mugs of tea; chopping fire-wood;  making spring planting plans;  the clearing of herbaceous borders and the annual making-of-things (e.g. more nest-boxes and more leaf-mold bins).  And, best of all, September heralds tottering piles of buttery crumpets.

It is also a busy month at the Priory.  And it is far busier this year than usual.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, we’ve only just cut the beech hedge – rather than in early August.

The main beech arch with, right, a new one being trained

The wet summer meant that it had grown much more than in previous years and so took far longer to do.  Boy, did my arms ache.

Nick, Jim and I toiled a whole day; and then Jim and I toiled another.  All the trimmings then had to be collected and burnt; wreathing the gardens in constant, medieval wood smoke.

The mixed hedging normally only requires a light trim after its main cut in July – usually a swift job to remove a few arching bramble stems.  But not this year.  Again the wet summer had allowed it a secondary, unwanted and major growth spurt.

Jim cutting the mixed hedging

I asked Jim to come in again and help me get it re-cut.  It should now look crisp throughout its dormant months.

With the hedges cut, I could turn my attention to strimming.  There are large areas of grass that now need clearing.  Unmown they have been full of wildflowers but now they must be cut short before they are flattened by heavy rain and frost.

Sheep’s Bit Scabious (Jasione montana)

This is such a patch below the greenhouse; packed with Sheep’s Bit Scabious (Jasione montana) it has been spared my strimmer – for now.

About the ponds and ditches, I have reduced to ground level meadowsweet and ugly dock, nettle, perfidious bramble and unwanted, unloved self-sown willow and alder.  Whatever I cut, I rake up and barrow out to the bonfire.

The meadow is far too large an area for me to strim.  Next week, weather allowing, Sam and his huge, his amazing grass-cutting machine will tackle it.  (Heavy rain today forced us to postpone).

As if I haven’t got enough on my plate, rabbits have broken into the gardens once again to wreak havoc; nibbling through the wire netting as if it were cotton.  Damn them and their twitchy noses too.

I really ought to be moving tender plants into the warm, safe bosom of the greenhouse now except that it is still full of cucumbers and …

… tomatoes.  Weird, strange 2012.  And I have had a warning shot across the bows.  I really must get a move on and bed the gardens down for winter.  You see last Wednesday, on the 19th we had our first frost!

As it does every year, it has caught me by surprise.  Suddenly, summer has slipped away.  And me with the meadow still uncut, lots of strimming to do, loads of tender plants to move under cover, some of which I was still hoping would flower!  But not now.  Frost?  Already.  Cripes.  Yes, I really must get cracking.

Best get the crumpets on.

33 thoughts on “September Return

  1. Shocked to see the frost. This kind of heavy work – it’s not something I have the opportunity to do nowadays – but from my very little experience, have found it one of the satisfying things about autumn. It makes one’s body feel good and it’s good to see where one’s been. On the other hand, never, ever, have I had to trim a hedge like any of these. If I did, I might change my mind about autumn being my favourite season. The idea of doing it in the heat of August is horrific.

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    • Hi Lucy, I think I actually found it all a little much this year. I’m going to try and stagger all these jobs more in the future but it is difficult. As you say – cutting the hedges in August was terrifically hard work but if not done then it is a job that overlaps with others. D

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  2. I join in with the others to say welcome back Dave. I agree wholeheartedly with you, September is the very best month, why is the light so special? I love the way the days are cold (and sometimes frosty – eek!) in the morning and usually quite warm by lunchtime. A busy time ahead for you now bedding down for Winter.

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  3. C(rumpet c)rumbs, frost already? *brrrr*. Does look rather beautiful though, and I do find myself looking forward a little bit to winter landscapes. But not my cold feet; where are my big furry slippers? Ahhh…

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  4. Im glad we dont have to tackle all of those hedges but they do look good once trimmed.

    Reminds me (gaz) of when I used to do my Nans privet hedge when I was in my early teens, and I still have the scarred finger from when i nicked it with the hedge trimmer. My nan got me patched up and sent back out to finish, cant have half a job done can we!!

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    • Funny you should say that Gaz as Jim nicked his knee with the hedge trimmer. The injury he might have sustained doesn’t bear thinking about. I love the sound of your Nan – obviously doesn’t brook any nonsense. D

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  5. Yay! Now that the Anxious Gardener is back, all’s right with the world. (Except for the rabbits. Rabbits are just wrong. Obviously.) MORE leaf mould bins? You are already the LMB King! Where can you move up from there? LMB Emperor? LMB Supreme Ruler? You’ve mentioned before that the Priory is in a frost pocket, but this must be early?? Stock up on those crumpets! Glad you got the hedges done… They do look crisp and beautiful. You have finally, officially converted me to your hedges (but I still don’t want any of my own). And I’m so glad you’ve posted again! A sad, gaping hole in virtual reality has just been filled.

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    • Aww Mistress Stacy. If I’d guessed your reaction I would’ve posted weeks ago.

      Leaf mould takes up space in my compost bins and I can’t have that – so It is a problem to be solved by making LMB’s – obviously. And yes Supreme Ruler would suit me just fine. Yep, I think this is the earliest frost I’ve had at the Priory. I’m terribly pleased to have converted you to hedges (at long last). Now please come and help cut the bleedin things. D

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  6. Welcome back, Dave. Since I never do my hedges before September anyway, I’m feeling smug at not having to do a second cut. Grass all strimmed too! But sadly behind on the firewood and the greenhouse clearance…
    (Oh God, you’ve fiddled with your template AGAIN. Don’t like the font – too small) (You wouldn’t expect anything but curmudgeonliness from me, would you?)

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    • Hello Mr K, well I don’t fancy doing all of the Priory hedges in September – I’d be doing precious else. I’ve been experimenting with what to strim and what to leave and I think I’ve rather overdone it on the ‘left’ areas. I won’t be leaving such large areas unmown next year. Good to experiment though.

      Erm. Haven’t fiddled with the template actually. The font is unchangeable on this particular theme. Thinking of a change anyhow as I’ve had some comments about white text on black. Ho hum.

      Your curmudgeonliness is always very welcome, BTW. D

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  7. Hello stranger – bloggers world has been very quiet without you. We had our first frost last week as well luckily I had already started bringing things indoors. Looks like you’ve had a busy time but it is all looking good. I hate saying goodbye to summer, well, the bit of one that we had – just let’s hope we get some lovely autumn days to make up for it.

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    • Hi Elaine, sorry I haven’t been about. I’ve been having a bit of an extended blogging holiday – obviously. Good for you on moving stuff indoors already! A task I shall be addressing this week. Today was actually a beautiful autumnal day here in Sussex (interspersed with very, very heavy showers). D

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  8. Frost already!!! Yikes! Good luck getting it all done. It seems I never do. I love the look of freshly trimmed hedges. Although that looks like a very long hedge, and a lot of work to get it that way!

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  9. Good to have you back, you have certainly been busy with your hedges, they’re looking very good. We managed to escape the frost here in Devon, just down to 4 degrees, never had it so cold before in September, usually frost comes about 15th October so fingers crossed it doesn’t come early, too many jobs still to do!

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  10. It’s really good to have you back in blogland! I’ve missed your wry sense of humour! While you were away I thought my brain was cooking in the heat, not to mention what it did to all the plants, luckily we’re having a cool September but NOT frost – I can hardly believe that many parts of England had frost so early!!!!!!!!! The Priory is looking lovely under your guardianship and I look forward to more posts with drama, fun and tragedy if those of the spring and early summer. Welcome back. Christina

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    • Hi Christina, gosh thanks – glad I’ve been missed!! The frost last week was a bit of a shock – I’d hoped for another month of growth really. Ho hum. It certainly stopped my tropical border in its tracks. We could’ve done with some of your heat to really get it established this year. Dave

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