Having celebrated the Autumn Equinox on the 22 September I thought I'd focus this month's blog on welcoming a new season and talking a little bit about why I enjoy Autumn so much. And don't be fooled into thinking as a gardener that the growing season is over because I assure you, it is not.
Autumn is by far my favourite season, there is nothing I don't enjoy about it. I love how the light changes, it feels to me to be a softer, warmer glow. Of course there is less daylight but the light we do get is much more comforting and cosy. There's a sense of dormancy at this time of year, a slowness and a peaceful tranquility. It's almost as if everything has decided to take a rest and just relax after a busy Summer of putting on a show.
Of course it's not all about how the garden feels at this time of year, it's the small pleasures in life I now look forward to, like; delicious soup, soft cosy knitwear, thick wholly socks, evenings by the open fire pit, bobble hats and of course hot chocolate. I adore those chilly mornings with the clean crisp air that bites at your nose, followed by bright blue skies. I think it's the colours I love most about this time of year, they are so vibrant and warm and almost as if they've been building up to this last exuberant show of beauty all year. The changing colours of the leaves on the trees and that crispy sound they make underfoot when you're out for a walk. There's a richness to enjoy at this time of year and I simply wouldn't want to miss it.
There's plenty of tradition and ritual to be celebrated too, which as a gardener I always like to start by giving thanks for the harvest. And surely there is nothing better at this time of year than celebrating the wonderful produce you have grown, especially those pumpkins! I also enjoy Halloween, which I know has become a cultural melting pot but I like to celebrate it just by giving treats to children in our local community and that feels very rewarding to me. Apple festivals are another wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of the season. Many different cultures celebrated this special time of year, in Celtic its referred to as Mabon, named after the God of Welsh mythology and Druids called it Alban Elfed, which means 'The Lights of the Water' but each culture has in common the fact that it's a time to celebrate natures abundance and what better way to do that than foraging.
Foraging (of course do your research first before eating anything you happen to find in the hedgerow) is a wonderful way to experience wild grown fruits, berries, nuts and mushrooms. Just be sure to leave some for the wildlife and it gives plants a chance to reseed. And what naturally comes with that but preserves. Jam, pickles, crumbles are a great way to enjoy the last of the seasons treats, which you can go on enjoying into the winter months or gift them to your loved ones.
When you've finished enjoying your walks and hot chocolate there is plenty to be enjoying in the garden too. The two things I enjoy most in the garden are grasses and tree bark. I'm fairly new to growing grasses but I've really come to love them and they add such a lot of colour and movement to the garden and will keep performing well into the winter months. And I love seeing the stunning colours of the Betula (birch) tree bark. I'm lucky to volunteer at Stone Lane Gardens, a stunning 5 acre arboretum on Dartmoor National Park and Autumn is definitely my favourite time of year there, the tree bark just outshines everything else.
So what will you be enjoying in the garden this season?
Whatever it might be, may the colours and warmth of the season fill your heart with joy and happiness.