I understand why, for many gardeners, November can be a gloomy time. The days are shorter, nights are longer, and the garden is now looking very sorry for itself. The height of summer with its glorious colours, blooming flowers and fresh produce seems but a distant memory.
Up until this time last year, I too would be experiencing this daily gloom. Having worked in London for many years, the three-hour commute, air-conditioned office, and being constantly surrounded by too many people really got me down. I never saw the change of seasons, and it was always too dark to venture onto the allotment, by the time I got home. My horticultural ambitions were always hampered from not having enough time.
This year, life is very different. I can enjoy sunrises, be out in my garden, and my clients gardens all day, and really experience those changing seasons now that we’re living in the countryside. Yes it’s cold, yes it’s wet, and yes there’s always that worry, “What if work runs out?” But I’m leading the life I dreamt about; being closer to nature and getting rid of the London clutter that held me hostage for many years. Of course I’m missing the spring and summer right now, but there’s still so much to do in the garden this month to keep me smiling.
I love a dahlia, and with newly-created beds, I wanted instant impact in our garden this year. However, with perennials brought over from our old house planted in the new garden, it was going to take a good year for these plants to bed-in and show themselves at their floral best. So, for the instant colour hit, I planted a lot of dahlia tubers. Later in the year, I was richly rewarded, but now these need to be lifted.
In the greenhouse, my chillies seem to be going from strength to strength. They clearly didn’t get the memo that winter’s on its way, as I’m still harvesting chillies every week!
We’re very lucky that our garden is not only surrounded by trees, but a few of them are mature fruit trees. Not only do they give us tasty fruit, but they’re now enabling me to use my leaf bin. Built back in March, it has sat silently for months, biding its time, waiting for its moment to rise. Like a phoenix from a fallen leaf pile, this weekend it took its moment in the spotlight, as I piled knee-high fallen leaves into it. The more leaves the better, as over the coming months this will break down into a wonderful crumble. Then this time next year, I’ll have myself all the leaf mulch I need to cover my flower beds with.
But it’s not all been about working in the garden, we’re talking about it too. Yesterday, we were back at BBC Radio Suffolk for Luke Deal’s ‘Gardening Hour’ (we’re on from about 2:06:30 if you fancy a listen!) This was our second time in the studio, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only did we talk all things gardening, we talked about our own ‘good life’ journey, and took gardening questions from the lovely public. However, all eyes were on me when Soph let out, on live radio, that I had been using her tights and old bras to help support my growing melons and squashes. Was this a BBC Radio Suffolk scoop? “Local gardener parades around the kitchen garden in his wife’s undergarments?” No matter how much I tried to explain about both the recycling and restraining benefits, it had the team rolling around in laughter… the things we do for sustainability.
Underwear or no underwear, I shall be back out in my garden tomorrow, as there’s still so much to tidy up and clear away. Also, I’ve got some new garden projects I’m mulling over, but I’ll save that for another time.