Cheer Yourself Up With Autumn Containers

Autumn containers not looking too bad

This is not my best time of year.

Lots of my friends love autumn and wax lyrical about this 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' - but not me. I'm always faintly depressed in autumn, and for all kinds of reasons, 2019 seems worse than most, even though the weather has been pretty mild.

I'm a springtime soul. I quite like February, because here in the west of Scotland, at that chilly time of year, there are so many intimations of the coming spring: the snowdrops are already in bloom, the other bulbs are peeping through and once the Christmas decorations are down I always bring lots of pots of early flowering hyacinths into the house.

Even winter isn't too bad. I rather like to hibernate and write and knit and bake and - this year's resolution - play my piano more often. Besides, there's Christmas and I love Christmas. But in autumn, everything just seems to be on the slide.  As I sit here at my office window, gazing towards the woods, I can see the green beginning to fade, the leaves beginning to turn and for a large part of September the weather has been what we call 'dreich' in Scotland: dull and grey and damp.

After the first sharp frost, the colours will be magnificent, I can't deny it. But just now we're betwixt and between seasons, and the garden manages to look both messy and sorry for itself. The house martins and swallows have gone, and I'm always sorry to see them go. This song by Fairport Convention and the extraordinary talent that was Sandy Denny says it all!

Countryside looking
a bit tired too!
Nice shades though.
However, once I got down and dirty with my tubs and pots last week, I realised that they didn't look too bad at all. There are still bumble bees and the occasional butterfly and still plenty of flowers. I did a bit of trimming and pruning, and weeded out the most straggly bits and pieces including the chickweed that was masquerading as something else. Cheerful trailing begonias will last for weeks - until that first sharp frost, of course. My surfinias had been chomped by slugs and snails, so I pulled up most of them, and planted some cyclamen in the kitchen window box - this is a very sheltered part of the garden and they should survive for ages. The fuchsias have been wonderful this year, and they flower on and on in containers. The Michaelmas daisies are just about to flower, and they will brighten things up considerably.

One good thing about having a fairly wild cottage garden is that you don't feel compelled to tidy everything back too drastically once it has finished flowering. I like to leave some cover for the small birds and beasts, so I do some pruning, but let many things die back naturally, and then really only tackle it in spring.

As I was working this week, I was accompanied by the high melodic singing of the robin, who hops about the holly tree, and lets me know that he's here. He's been here all summer, and here he'll stay. Meanwhile, the old apple tree at the bottom of the garden which is on a two year cycle, is having a good fruiting year.  We have more apples than we know what to do with, so are giving some of them away. These are Golden Noble - a very old variety and an excellent sweet cooking apple. Many thanks to Nigel Deacon for identifying it for me.

I'll post my apple scone recipe this weekend. Watch this space.