Derek – Friday 5th November 2021

It’s chilly in the garden with a biting wind. This is November without doubt. On Saturday we had our Welcoming Winter festival. There was home-made soup and bread to keep the cold away. We had bulb planting, mostly by children (‘pointed end up’) but a few adults too. Some were planted around the garden but most were planted in pots. Theresa St. Prix, who plays with a Tottenham band, serenaded us on her steelpan.

I especially liked her rendition of Guantanamera. The tune is pretty old but around the time of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, lyrics with verses by the 19th century independence hero Jose Marti were added. I first heard it sung by Pete Seeger in the 60s and it’s been a favourite of mine since.

The Cereal Project book is out, £5, full of photos and illustrations, as well as text. It details last year’s project when we grew various cereals on our sleepers: wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, rice and teff. We grew them in cardboard boxes which stood up for the 6 months of the project. Most of the cereals fared well, though the sweetcorn, which grew OK, gave us poor cobs, and the rice, which became a bushy clump, never set seed. The latter was no surprise as our climate, unless we have a lengthy heatwave, will not support rice. As well as the project, the book is interspersed with bits of these blogs to give a feel of that covid year in the Garden.

Half the leaves have fallen from the large sycamore, as well as many helicopters, though plenty are still hanging on in the high branches. The willow leaves are yellow-green and will soon be bare. The deciduous tree in our garden which keeps its leaves longest is the silver birch. Its leaves are still green, a tinge of yellow-brown, but they won’t beat mortality.

You need to look hard for flowers. Our tub of pansies of course, and there’s marigolds here and there, along with borage, feverfew and sedum Autumn Joy. No roses have hung on. The high winds we have had give larger flowers a real battering.

The acanthus is prolifically leaved. A cavern of greenery. In warm weather, snails totally strip it, but they are now dormant, and so the acanthus grows unimpeded.

The wildflower bed has been stripped of plants. On the soil has been laid a carpet of artificial grass to keep down weeds until the spring. On the carpet are clusters of pots filled with bulbs, some of which were filled at Welcoming Winter.

I keep looking for fungi, but haven’t seen any at all this year. There are empty spider webs all over the garden, but the arachnids have gone, leaving behind their egg sacs which will hatch in the spring. Autumn is a time of closure with the possibilities of new growth in roots, buds and bulbs.

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