The ‘autumn tidy’ is always a bit of an oxymoron in our garden. Especially so this year. I can’t have spent more than two or three hours out there in November and the only pre-Christmas job I did in December was stringing up fairy lights.
But at last the festivities are over and I managed to sneak out for a few hours yesterday morning.
I mostly wandered about and caught up with where things are at. Snowdrops are beginning to push up leaves; bright red peony shoots are breaking through the soil. We’ll be enjoying the witch hazel flowers’ acid-yellow spideriness soon.
The main borders are a jumble of stalks and seed heads. We deliberately avoid chopping plants back in the autumn to provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Over the past weeks I’ve noticed hordes of finches in the garden – far more than in our previous winters here. Many of them have been flitting in and out of clumps of rudbeckia stalks. I thought they were hunting for insects taking refuge there. But it turns out they’ve been feasting on the seeds.
Embracing untidiness instead of fighting it makes gardening at this time of year an unhurried, leisurely affair. It couldn’t be further from the mad spring dash to get seeds in and young plants hardened off at just the right moment – exciting though that is.
On bright, crisp mornings this attitude pays off. The collapsing heap of last summer’s growth is transformed into an ice-encrusted wonderland.
We have a few new projects in mind for next year. The two main borders are being extended to give us tons more ‘full sun’ space. And we’re going to start creating some wildflower areas. There will be lots to do, but for now I’m happy to potter and procrastinate.