Herbaceous plants are dying back as temperatures fall and the daylight hours lessen. All part of the yearly cycle, their roots remaining alive to put forth new shoots in spring. A season we are planning for. We have been planting daffodil bulbs in various planters: along Woodgrange, McGrath Road, and in the new traffic free zone on Odessa and Field Road. We had a team of volunteers out on Sunday with quite a few children, it being a sociable, family friendly activity. A second planting was due on Thursday but it was pouring with rain, and so was postponed.
There’s non-stop leaf fall in the garden. It is pointless being too thorough raking them, as a cleaned up area is leaf splattered the next day. We are putting the leaves on the compost heap, and covering them up as we don’t want them blowing out again.
The birch tree by the middle stage, stubbornly, has all its leaves. They are very green and healthy looking. If you didn’t know the season, you wouldn’t know it was autumn by looking at the birch. I am curious why. Leaf fall is brought about by day length and temperature. Premature leaf fall, say in the summer, can happen in a drought, as then the tree is conserving moisture by shedding leaves. I’ll keep an eye on the birch, not that there is anything wrong, far from it, just curiosity as to when the leaves will begin to yellow and fall. As they must.
Flowers are few in the garden, the odd bloom here and there, but we have a patch of deep crimson chrysanthemums in a raised bed in the centre of the garden. The blooms are small but there’s lots of them, to give a blast of colour. Nearby growing out of the side of a bed of succulents is bracket fungus. Oyster fungus, I think. No point wondering where it came from, spores blow in from anywhere. They are growing out of treated wood, but treatment weathers away, but a few fungi will do no harm.
There have been few public events in the garden this year. The cause is obvious, coronavirus. In other years, we have had music, arts and crafts, and children’s activities, but social distancing has cut them back. Even mince pies and carols, which we have had every year, is unlikely this Christmas. Though it is not all bad news, as we are learning what we can do ourselves with current restrictions and what we can offer other groups. We have recently had art classes and a dance class. Woodcraft Folk Elfins were in the garden making lanterns in the twilight. Kay Rowe nursery will be coming too. On Thursday, we had three hardy women crocheting small squares in the shelter of the centre stage, as the rain came down. This is part of a project to make a Christmas tree in the market from 1500 small woollen squares.
We are encouraging such garden usage as the area has lost the use of three local halls: Durning Hall, the Methodist Church and the Library. We can at least offer an outside venue when inside spaces are not permissible.
Thinking creatively, we are planning local walks. With small groups, say over the Flats or West Ham Park, to look at trees, other plants and wildlife. In ‘normal’ times, this would be no problem at all, but these days we have to think about numbers, risk assessment, and booking arrangements. Just for a simple walk! But we are where we are, and have to accept the rules for all our sakes. And make the best of things within them.