To me, autumn has always seemed to be a season of renewal. A time to take stock, to finally stop and let the cool air fill you lungs after the hammering heat of summer.
It is a time of literal regeneration too, with autumn rains greening the hills, followed by little red and white calves popping their pink noses above the dry grass.
In the garden, I've been evaluating the successes and failures of the last few months. With a few exceptions, the vegie garden was almost a complete failure. Once the weather kicked into high gear in January, it took all of my energy just to keep myself fed and clothed and work, and the weeds took over. My seedlings died, fruit lay rotting on the ground, and not one corner of my garden was a peaceful haven where I could recharge my batteries. Much as I am ashamed to admit it, there were even blackberry canes climbing on the roof.
So in the past week, I have started making improvements to my front garden. A front garden might seem a strange choice for a peaceful spot, but surrounded by paddocks as I am, it is not so odd. It is on the south side of the house, and in summer, the coolest place in the garden. Between milkings I've been pottering around, doing a little weeding, a little pruning, and a lot of planning. This weekend, a dear friend, D, came to stay and helped me make huge progress. (Although, if I had allowed him to help more I probably wouldn't have such a painful neck and shoulder now, but I digress)
D took up arms against the blackberries which had self-seeded among the hydrangeas and azaleas, clambered up through the rhododendrons and camellia and were heading skyward on the roof of the house. I laid newspaper and straw on the weeded garden beds and spread Dynamic Lifter around. Together we made the most perfect little seat in the world, modelled after a picture I saw on the internet and made out of a plank of wood and some bricks. It is positioned in front of a sasanqua camellia that marks the grave of my family's black labrador, Sooty. She was a loving, gentle soul, and there is a real sense of peace in that spot. D and I also raked up the fallen leaves from the big magnolia tree and put them on the garden to add some organic matter.
Today I pruned the hydrangeas, and I removed two limbs from the smaller, lily-flowered magnolia. It had been pruned badly some years ago by A Person Of Very Little Brain, and this has encouraged long floppy branches. The limbs I removed had become dangerous to anyone mowing, but taking them out has had the lovely side effect of making the hellebores underneath visible, and hopefully they will flower well this year with the extra sunshine.