I missed it last year as I was in hospital with a brain haemorrhage, in fact I think I must have been coming out exactly a year ago today feeling pretty frail and not in any way well enough to do the jobs that gardens cry out for in the Autumn.
So I didn’t do anything that I had planned for this little garden that I started from scratch in 2008 after two strong men put down the old York flag stones and created the borders which I have since planted out with warring tribes of climbers who have taken happily to my, I think, very beautiful traditional Sussex flint walls.
Last year I was still coming to terms with basic facts like being alive and coping with the pain of a fractured spine so I have only a fuzzy memory how what the garden looked like a year ago but going out there today I feel really pleased with what is still work in progress. A year on and I am now awaiting the results of my recent brain scan, somewhat impatiently I have to admit, and I have been fighting that feeling of being lost in limbo not sure if I will need an operation or not until my neurologist tells me what the MRI scan has revealed what is going on up there in my head.
I went out into the garden this morning feeling disgruntled, tired and irritable with the World. Tired after yesterday’s kungfu lesson in the park which showed me that I was feeling a whole lot better when I managed to do all my patterns as well as I have done all year. I slept for most of the afternoon though in that annoying post brain haemorrhage way and woke up today feeling just as tired.
Out in the garden, barefoot on my flag stones, I went through my kung fu again whilst my instructor’s voice was still ringing clearly in my ears. Exhilaration at moving again blew off those doldrums in an instant and when I had finished I was more than ready to do those gardening jobs that I had been putting off.
Maybe it was the sight of all those handsome passion flower fruits swelling on the vine but all of a sudden I was feeling great again and more than optimistic about the future.
The passion flower has gone wild out here all summer and its grasping habits continue even now that a little dignified let up would not have been out of order. My climbing fuchsias are in their last flush of flowering but they struggle willfully against those greedy passion flower tendrils.
Autumn has brought the wonderfully vivid berries of my tiny new pyracantha bush which will grow againt the North facing wall and earn its English name of Firethorn by lighting up grey winter days with its vivid orange-red berries.
Summer has not entirely given up here though and the last of my clemmatis plants has come into flower just in time before the frosts will see it retreat back to its roots. I rather like the curling habit of these tremulous petals with their grey underparts which match the wall’s mortar perfectly.
I still have a crop of roses too forcing me to rethink the realism of that old song The Last Rose of Summer. I still have a number of the beautiful and highly scented cabbage like Clare Austin roses though I doubt if those new buds will actually open.
My two urns of primroses have started to flower and, if they manage it again, three years after I planted them in their containers, they will flower right through to next March. Another hopeful sign of next year’s Spring is the provocative hint of pink on my camellia plant’s swelling buds.
It is difficult to remain depressed when you have a garden because you are forced to look ahead, always at least one season in advance and always with hope for new projects which are as enjoyable in prospect as they are when that good plan comes together.
It was in that spirit of joyful anticipaton that I tore out this year’s annuals, sorry little plants I know you were still in bloom, to plant next year’s tulips in a number of terracotta pots.
I also planted some white scented narcissus bulbs, Mount Hood, in a bed by the French windows along with a batch of wallflowers, Persian Carpet, which will liven up the view from the house when we are all thinking about the return of what should be the warm days of 2010.