November is nearly over and as meteorological winter shuffles into view you can feel the season getting ready to change. It was still quite warm when I began the tenancy of the land at the end of September, the temperature has dropped over the past few weeks and the heavens have opened.
The trees are reluctant to lose their leaves this far south-west and the wind doesn’t bite quite as much as it did in North Yorkshire. It’s milder, but wetter. When you’re outside you notice the differences. They’re subtle but they’re there adding to what makes this small plot of land particular.
There’s been days when it’s barely got light in the valley, and that’s going to happen more often as we move towards the shortest day. Much of it is wooded, lanes are bordered by high hedges that lean in as the road narrows. You can see the crowns of the primroses that will prick the banks with yellow as spring arrives. And it will arrive much earlier here.
Then again, there’s been sunshine right now, crisp cold days and one or two where the late autumn sun has been strong enough for me to get down to my t-shirt. On those days I got my head down.
I’ve now achieved my goal of 100 small beds laid out for the spring. They take up about half of the acre. It felt like a significant little milestone. I was finding it difficult to think about developing the business – websites, marketing, what to do with the rest of the site – while I knew I needed those beds to begin the business in the New Year.
I have them now. It’s freed my mind up to start thinking about other things. I began working on a large comfrey bed. I’m going to plant some comfrey root cuttings, sow seed and then allow it to colonise the space. I’m going to be moving to a no-dig approach from next year and comfrey leaves make an excellent nitrogen rich mulch.
I’ve also scythed down the second half of the plot. As I’ve done so I’ve uncovered lots of self-sown red campions. Some of them are flowering out of time. These will be relocated to a wildflower bed as soon as its ready. These will be a mixture of pollinator friendly native flowers whose seeds I’ll sell as a Green Fuse Garden Wildflower Mix.
Also to dig is a confetti bed. This will be a jumble of flowers whose petals can be dried out and used in natural confetti – think cornflowers, larkspur, calendula and some roses.
I think there’ll still be space for some apple trees.
So there’s lots to do. I’m wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. I’m not looking forward to daylight being a slither at the middle of the day at best. But at least it won’t be long before the light begins to return.
I keep myself going by imagining what the plot will look like at the height of summer next year. I imagine it filled with colour, scent and bees as the sun bakes down. I think about the different rhythm that the land will place on me by then. The ability to imagine, plan and anticipate is a key part of being any kind of gardener.