Autumn light

 

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I love the sunlight at this time of year, especially in the late afternoon. There’s a gorgeous softness, depth and warmth to it. Other than to sweep up a tonne of leaves and pick up windfalls, I haven’t spent much time in the garden lately but I did pop out this afternoon to catch a little sun.

Miscanthus flowers. These plants are from a chunk chopped off a big clump of Miscanthus in our previous garden.
Miscanthus sinensis: these plants were propagated from a chunk taken from a big clump in our previous garden before we moved here. We originally bought this beautiful ornamental grass about 12 years ago from The Plantsman’s Preference, a fabulous nursery in Norfolk that specialises in hardy geraniums and ornamental grasses. I can’t remember the exact variety of Miscanthus – the label is long gone – but there are over 40 of varying sizes and colours on their website.
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The raised planters either side of the steps have really filled out and are looking rather overgrown and chaotic. Annual grasses, including Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, rudbeckias and snapdragons (emergency planting for the garden safari back in June) have grown together in a frothy mass.
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This is one of the planting combinations I’m most pleased with this year – Verbena rigida (which has been flowering for months), a blue/purple geranium of unknown variety, Gaura ‘The Bride’, a bronze fennel (that appeared out of nowhere) and more annual grasses.
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As much as I dislike the invasive habit of Japanese anemones, you can’t deny they look completely beautiful when they’re flowering en masse.

 

In other news… It’s been a busy, long week. As well as the first full week of Back to School with all three children having to be out of the house by 7.35am, David has started a new job which means he’s away from home for most of the week. We’re all getting used to this and settling in to our new routines which means Being Organised: packing school bags the night before; eating a good breakfast to keep you going throughout the day when you’re too busy ‘socialising’ at lunchtime; keeping on top of increasing amounts of homework after a long summer of not picking up a pen; going to bed early… We’ve managed one week. I wonder how long it’ll last!

I hope you’ve had a good week and are enjoying some September sunshine wherever you are.

 

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My sunny middle son is 14 (14!!!) today. He requested burgers for dinner and a coffee and walnut birthday cake. I was pleased to oblige.

 

 

 

Show offs

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If you visited our house over the past week you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a scene of blissful domesticity: home-grown produce on the kitchen table, the smell of freshly baked bread, sewing-basket balanced on top of a pile of uniform to be named… The last few days of the summer holidays have been full of running errands and all those last-minute chores before Back To School – that time in early September when parents across the land heave a collective sigh (of regret and/or relief).

My daughter had her first day at secondary school yesterday and my eldest son got up four hours earlier than he has for the previous six weeks to travel with her on the train so she knew where to go, even though he doesn't start back until Monday. Gosh, I did feel odd waving them off – love, pride, anxiety, happiness, sadness, excitement, wistfulness... The whole shebang.
My daughter had her first day at secondary school yesterday. In a complete fit of magnanimity, my eldest son got up four hours earlier than he has for the previous six weeks to travel with her on the train so she knew where to go, even though he doesn’t start back until Monday. Gosh, it did feel odd waving them off – huge love, pride, anxiety, happiness, sadness, excitement, wistfulness… The whole shebang. He was back an hour later and spent the remainder of the day ‘resting’; she had a very happy first day.

 

As well as the looming new school year, we’ve also been preparing a bumper family entry for the village gardeners’ association late summer show. My younger son entered ‘A loaf (any size/any flour)’ and has been taking every opportunity to learn from the master bread-maker in our house (my husband). Secrets have been passed from father to son and he duly baked the most magnificent bloomer yesterday evening. David entered a ‘White plaited loaf’ and was up until 3am (yes, 3am) this morning creating his masterpiece (we’d been out to see friends earlier in the evening and stayed late…).

My entries were much less labour-intensive: ‘1 Cucumber’, ‘9 Cherry Tomatoes (one variety)’, ‘Cut flowers mixed or individual outdoor varieties (1 vase)’; ‘Cut grasses and/or seed heads mixed/single variety (1 vase); and ‘5 stems of Annuals’, so I was out in the garden early this morning, battling cobwebs and gathering spiders on my pyjamas, to cut my produce. My daughter entered a photograph – ‘Insect Life’ – of an ant in a flower that she took on holiday a couple of years ago.

Our entries had to be at the village hall by 10am, then there was a four-hour wait to find out the results… We nipped back after lunch to see how we’d done.

My son's prize- (and, to his delight, cash-) winning, ginormous bloomer.
Ta-da! My son’s prize- (and, to his delight, cash-) winning, ginormous bloomer.
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David’s late-night creation also won first prize, as did the 9 cherry tomatoes (‘Sungold’) and 1 cucumber (a monster ‘Marketmore’). My mixed flowers and grasses/seedheads didn’t win but I am of the ‘pick and plonk’ school of arranging and there were some rather splendidly arranged vases. My ‘5 stems Annuals’ – Tithonia, of course – came second to some wonderful sunflowers, and my daughter’s photo came third. She’s looking forward to next year when she’ll be old enough to enter for the cash prize and give her brother a run for his money.

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