Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Garden in November

Red Line Quaker moth

This November has thrown up all sorts of challenges for the garden, not least the arrival of a monstrous layer of mist and cloud that has swallowed the sky for weeks. There are the odd days of sunshine and bright skies, where the slow autumnal tints burnish deeper red and yellow. But mostly the garden is dripping with mist and lost in a dank, dull greyness that leaches the enthusiasm out of even the most cheerful of gardener.

The unseasonabaly warm temperatures have caused mayhem in the flowerbeds and a ballooning of funghi in the long, now too wet to cut, grass. Leaves lie where they fall, a blizzard of bright yellow confetti and once bare branches have started to bud again. The chrysanthemums are just about holding up against the damp but everywhere mould and rot starts to creep. Slippery paving stones turn green and black and squidgy drifts of leaves moulder untouched by even the lighest of breeze.

Buddleja is budding again. The oak in the pot lost it's leaves and is now sporting a modest jacket of green again. The wallflowers are growing softly lush and leggy. Love-in-a-mist seedlings have sprung up in a carpet of green. The camelia has an impressive set of new flower buds. Spring bulbs are emerging. If this mildness continues I might have irises for Christmas.

And what of the wildlife? Well, it's good weather for snails. The bird feeders are visited by the usual crowd; jays, magpies, blackbirds, bluetits, great tits, robin, dunnock and a small creeping wren. Collared doves and wood pigeons, a rook and squirrels are all there too.

The worry now has to be when will the cold weather arrive? Will the garden be caught by a sudden frost and all this out-of season tender new growth be burnt by plummeting temperatures? Do I wrap up the fig and camelia now and risk damp and mould setting in, or leave it another week and risk a sudden temperature drop?
Outside the sun is low in the sky, just making it through the clouds, a pale golden disk chasing the moon, wispering sweetly it's still too warm for winter yet.