October 2020: In the garden

You know it’s been a wet October when toadstools start appearing in the paving cracks. 

Normally the habitat of drought-loving seedlings, it feels as though every nook and cranny is filled to the brim with water right now.

I’ve never seen the stream running as fast, as deep or as wide as it is now; it’s almost a respectable mass of water in parts!

And a magical fairyland has popped up across the garden.

Autumn has come early this year, with the leaves colouring and beginning their descent a couple of weeks ahead of time. It’s now that I really appreciate the incredible, stately, mature trees we have; they all pop into focus as the lower tier of plants fade away.

They all seem so big all of a sudden; each outline highlighted as it turns a different shade to the one next door.

I love our rainbow trees on our driveway.

And why is it that only in autumn do I notice the canopy in the woodland?

We’re slowly adding a few trees each year, to ensure there is renewal. It’s such fun to watch them grow and develop, but the speed of change doesn’t half make you realise how precious the oldest ones are.

We’re putting mostly natives in – oak, beech, field maple, holly and hawthorn. It’s not really a conscious decision, but the more I garden the more I’m drawn towards nature. Hard to argue that an enormous oak or beech tree in an English garden isn’t entirely goose pimple-inducing.

Even the understorey is full of autumn tints at the moment. The nasturtiums that looked so vibrant in spring have gained a sense of aged grandeur. 

And the garden is full to bursting with berries; of every size, shape and colour. You’d think there was so much to offer herbivores right now, that my favourite plants would be all safe and sound. 

But of course we still have our naughty deer. We’ve been keeping an eye on them with the infrared camera and delighting to see them on the far side of the new orchard fence.

Apart from when they’re not.

The day after we caught them on camera, I nonchalantly wandered into the orchard, in my usual gardening state, away with fairies in my own little world. Apart from when I’m not in my own little world.

I suddenly realised there were three deer standing stock-still, staring at me. It was Dad and the twinnies. 

I’ve never seen them quite so still. All of them with their best naughty faces. I’m convinced they knew they weren’t supposed to be there. 

The littlies could obviously sense the fear in Dad. They started running around, wondering if they could jump through gaps that weren’t really there. Hopping up and down in front of the side gate, looking at the 10cm space between the metal and the climbing (falling?) rose. Glancing across at Dad, then me, then back to the gate again.

Trouble is, force your way through one tiny break in the armoured defence and it’s quite hard to force your way out again. And I’m half smiling, half pleased to see them, half (OK, I know there are no halves left) admiring their sense of adventure and persistence and half being really quite cross that fun Dad would be so irresponsible like this (Paul’s sure he’ll have been in real trouble with boring Mum if the kids let on).

So, having enjoyed seeing them, noted that they’ve shown guilt, fear and remorse, I decide that really it’s best if I move out of the way so they feel they can safely escape. As soon as the line of sight was clear, they shot off as fast as their legs would carry them. One of the poor twinnies being left behind for a few long seconds; a little hesitant of high-jumping quite that high.

I hoped we’d had just the right level of fear without trauma. Setting the bar quite high for them to return over the fence, but not putting them off the rest of the garden. Or perhaps I’m reading a bit too much into my deer-training techniques? Do you think?

Meanwhile, I’ve been planting, planting, planting. Am I allowed to admit I’m a bit over planting for the time? I’ve put more than 200 new pots of life into the ground this month and that’s before you count up the number of plants I had to move to plant them, and the plants to move to plant those and… You know how it is.

As the wind rushes around and the rain hits the window panes, we read this morning that we might be in line for another lockdown this week. Our November trip to see family and friends in Australia has potentially morphed into a month of no social contact at all.

Given the length of our winters, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t somewhat confronting to be faced with this early on.

But snap out of it, Janna. A whole month at home, kicking golden leaves around the garden and dreaming up new ideas, really isn’t so bad for me.

Hopefully we’ll have a few brighter days and Daryl will come out to play and I’ll be lucky enough to lose myself in the marvels of nature and my own little world, many more times over.

We’ll see where it all takes us…

14 thoughts on “October 2020: In the garden

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thanks Deirdre. November is my least favourite month, so it’s going to be a bit tougher this time around. But really, I have nothing to complain about at all. I’m one of the lucky ones.

  1. Adriana says:

    I especially love the image of your water garden Janna – stunning. The trees too like majestic in their autumn cloaks. I thought I was the only person who (guiltily – is that a word?) moves plants, so I can find space for more plants. Not so worried now. We have just come out of 4 months of strict lockdown here in Victoria and still have restrictions, even though our cases are just so,so low compared to England. We are surviving and have even enjoyed it because we have a garden and something to look out at, on wet days. I would hate to have lived in the city during this time. Getting back to your garden Janna – you probably won’t totally win against the deer, or rabbits (I suddenly have a few of the latter that are very taken with Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’) – but you have certainly seemed to live well with them. Your garden though, looks wonderful in any season. Keep safe and well and away from the city.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh, I thought we all did musical plants all the time!! I love the sound of autumn cloaks, too. Gosh, four months is a very long time, isn’t it? Especially when the chances of coming within a few miles of someone with Covid was extremely, extremely low in your case. I must keep the same attitude as you though. I have to say I am quite excited about getting lots done at home, both inside and outside. And we can meet up outside with one friend this time, which will make an enormous difference. I’ll just keep busy – you should see my list of gardening jobs for the month – possibly be somewhat optimistic! I’ll let you know!

  2. Jill says:

    Your blogs always make me smile and even laugh at times. The photography is brilliant. As Adriana above I live in Victoria and we are just coming out of our second lockdown. Having a garden is a lifesaver during this time. It’s always Spring somewhere and my garden is bursting to life all around me. Keep safe.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Jill. It’s a very lovely thought if my little blog can put a smile on the face of someone on the other side of the world! Hopefully you are mostly laughing with me rather than at me, too!! Great to hear how much your garden has given you through the last few hard months over there. Gardens do have strong powers, don’t they?! I’m quite sure mine will do the same for me over the next few weeks.

  3. Suzanne says:

    How I enjoy your animal antics stories Janna, especially the deer. You could turn them into a blog all of their own, perhaps Deer, Oh Dear (Oh dear! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself 😉). It’s sure to be a hit.

    Fungi certainly have a beauty/interest factor all of their own and I particularly love the Fly Agaric. Are you sure it’s real? 😁 Your early autumn will give you lots of opportunities to enjoy that cozy wood fire of yours and I’m sure you will put any garden down time to productive good use.

    So sorry to hear about your November trip but thinking of a positive, your park-like garden gives so many opportunities to stop, stare and connect with the now. I couldn’t think of a better sanctuary in which to shelter. Love and best wishes to all, Suzanne

    • jannaschreier says:

      I rather like the idea of Deer, Oh Dear! I do wander around the garden saying, “oh, Daryl,” a huge amount, so I’m almost half way there! They are such fun though – the garden feels so alive and dynamic with them there. We still get excited when we see them (despite this happening a few times every day!!). The fly agaric are incredible aren’t they? We always get one or two under the silver birch, but never anything like the spectacle of this year. Not sure why so many. I haven’t quite perfected capturing the magic of them on ‘film’ though yet – still working on that! Thank you for reminding me that I don’t have to work every second of every day. I can just stop and absorb and enjoy too. In fact, you’ve almost got me quite excited about lockdown now – thanks for lifting my spirits, Suzanne.

  4. Louise says:

    Beautiful Janna! Always lovely to read about the garden antics and hear your thoughts. My eye tends to be drawn up at sunset but I’ll consciously try to lift my eyes more regularly. Such beautiful colours and shapes with those old trees. Of course those photographs are truly magical. We have had so much rain here. So different to this time last year with fires and drought. My garden is so lush, I’ll send photos soon. I play musical plants here as well! Stay safe and well.

    • jannaschreier says:

      We are so very lucky to have all the old trees here. And at the moment they seem to totally change every single day (which I’m able to study in detail as I’m not allowed to go anywhere!). It’s so good that you’ve had such a wet spring. Lots of Canberra friends have told me how lush it is looking. I’d really love to see some photos of how your garden is developing – always so nice to see how things evolve and gain more and more character. I’ll very much look forward to that!

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