Autumn Light

For a couple of days last week the skies cleared and the sun shone.  After a short holiday away, a return to work wasn’t so very awful.

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Margaret’s fields above the Priory

We’ve had plenty of dark cloud and rain recently but with sunlight filling the valley, there’s nowhere I would rather be.  And neither, I suppose, would Digby the ram.  He is on his tod for most of the year and left to his own ram-ish, solitary pursuits.

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Cyril and Digby together apart, May 2014

He can’t be left with Cyril, the other ram – they would fight.  And he can’t be left with the ewes or Margaret-the-farmer would be lambing all year round.  But now, thrust in amongst two dozen ewes, he can’t quite believe his good fortune and is taking his fathering responsibilities very seriously.  And with gusto.  He’s already snapped two ram harnesses (leather chest straps that carry a block of crayon – a raddle – that indelibly marks each ewe he mounts.  There’s no tact nor discretion for a ewe subjected to Digby love).

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The gardens aren’t at their best in November until, that is, the sun comes out.  Unsullied by duck-weed, the west pond holds reflections perfectly.

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Though some duckweed has drifted in from the other pond and skulks about the knees of bulrushes.

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The pond is brimming from days of heavy rain

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and shows off the tulip tree beautifully.  Most of its leaves fell during my absence.

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You need to get up close and personal for a real eyeful.

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The ground is too sodden, too muddy for the mowers – I can’t use the ride-on to pick up all that leaf-fall without churning up the lawns.  And so, I’ve been raking and chatting away to Radio 4.  I barrow off mounds of soggy leaves out to the ‘bins and return with mounds of leaf mould for mulching tender plants.  A pleasing, satisfying cycle.

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The beech hedge is slowly colouring from summer green to a mottled, golden, autumn coat.

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It’s an intermediate stage that will soon pass.  From late autumn he’ll wear a uniform brown through to spring.

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One day, the new beech arch will be complete … though not for another three or four years.   I can’t know how long I shall be gardener at the Priory, but I should like to see this third arch established before I go.  That would be a good legacy.

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But for now, I’ll head up to the greenhouse, put the kettle on, ramp up some music on the radio, grab a hobnob – and keep tally on Digby’s enthusiasm.

41 thoughts on “Autumn Light

  1. Beautiful images which have captured autumn in all its glory. Although I’m relieved to see there wasn’t one of Digby caught in the act. Beech might well be my favourite tree if I had to choose. We’re lucky to have plenty around here and we used to live near Burnham Beeches and the Chilterns years ago. Majestic trees, enveloping hedges and stunning autumn colour. I even love the dried crinkled leaves in winter. A beech arch is such a great idea. Lou

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    • I might just have to agree with you Lou. I know Chiltern beeches as well. I grew up in Hertfordshire and visited the Ashridge Estate and Frithsden Beeches quite often. Incredible, ancient pollarded trees – you’ve made me want to go and see them again. The first long distance footpath I did was the Ridgeway and passed (and camped in) some of those lovely airy beech hangars. Dave

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  2. That really does have the look of a beautiful day, I hope the blue skies return a few more times before winter really sets in. The hedge is immaculate and shows off so well while changing colors. It’s a perfect combination with the blue, green, and golds of the landscape.

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    • If there wasn’t the odd day like this in November, Frank life would be pretty grim. I often go walking at this time of year. Doesn’t always pay off but surprisingly often I get perfect days with perfect light for climbing mountains. Virtually all the colour in the above photos is now gone though – all those lovely colours are so transient. Dave

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  3. Your posts never fail to make me smile – today it was your description of Christmas coming early for Digby. The photographs of the reflections in the pond are wonderful. I think the first one is my favourite just because of the sheer depth of colour in the beech hedge and its reflection. Thank you for sharing these views.

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  4. The light and the sun do make all the difference. I love the reflections of the trees in the ponds, that is the joy of large expanses of water. The colours of the beech arch are fantastic, I hope you stay long enough to see it complete.

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    • Since they moved the country diary, I often miss it – which I never did when it was on the letters page. I’ll have to dig that issue out from the Guardian pile that otherwise goes on the compost bins. D

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    • Hi Boys, as you says who knows? We have vague plans to move away from Sussex at some point in the future but that is unlikely to be within the next four years. After that (when our boy finishes school) we’re thinking of the West Country or the perhaps somewhere further afield. D

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  5. It’s a lovely place – ans how lovely to see a mature tulip tree every day. I envy you. I hope you’ll be sharing the outcome of Digby’s excesses soon? I’ll excuse myself from leaf-raking. Spent too many 8-hour days in my past doing that and telling people where the toilets were (but the watching a superb sunset over a beautiful pond made it worthwhile …)

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    • I have done posts about Margaret’s lambs in the past, Cathy but not for a couple of years so maybe I will. I certainly always go up to the sheds to oooh and ahh over the newborns. I rather like leaf-raking. I tend to do an hour or so a day and that’s fine – with the radio on. But no, I wouldn’t want to do it for 8. D

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  6. I love beech and the way they colour up. When I was a child we had 3 huge beech trees in our garden and would spend the autumn raking up the leaves into huge piles which we would then jump into.

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