Shrugging off disasters and looking forward to next season

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AS usual in September, I’m happy to draw a veil over the year’s disasters and look forward to a hazy glow of horticultural glory next season.

Yes, you’ve guessed it – the new seed and plant catalogues are out.

Forget the complete lack of runner beans – a first for me – it’s all history. Moonlight, despite assurance that it would set in the worst of summers, blatantly didn’t.

I did hope that an Indian summer would mean a small, late crop, but a couple of grass frosts this week will have knackered that.

Ah, well. The plants will compost down well and when you cut your beans down for the winter, leave the roots in. Legumes (including peas) have the ability to “fix” nitrogen from the air, storing it in nodules on their roots, making it available for other plants to use next year.

Computer-savvy as we all have to be, there’s nothing like opening that shiny new booklet bursting with promise, making lists, realise you’ve spent too much.

It’s one of the chief pleasures on a chilly autumn night (OK, I have no life).

My plans for over the winter centre on digging up what’s left of the lawn and replacing it with winding gravel paths edged with recycled brick.

A mad idea for a white garden at the shady top end of the plot is also in my plans.

The area’s under the canopy of a lovely whitebeam I planted when Nicholas was born (he’s 16 next month).

As its flowers are creamy-white, as are the underside of its leaves, it will be a wonderful centerpiece – although giving me a host of problems with dry shade it casts!

One to research further over the winter, I think.


Eryngiums (sea hollies) are one of my favourite plants.

I’ve got three varieties, the tiny Blue Hobbit, Gertrude Jekyll’s favourite Miss Wilmott’s Ghost (steely silver) and this nameless variety (pictured) which I confess was bought as an end-of-season bargain for 99p each.

It’s about 4ft high and a gorgeous electric blue, which marries well with the yellow climbing rose it grows beside.

I suspect it may be eryngium planum, but I’m open to other suggestions.

I had planned to take more pictures when the rose was out – but the wind’s been so bad they just wouldn’t keep still!