It’s off with the sunhat and on with the wellies.

Saturday brought a bright but oh so cold and windy day. A day that chills you.

The temperature noticeably dropped after a week of grey cloud or fog that had kept me indoors or at best hadn’t tempted me outside much. A low grey sky is like something that sits on your shoulders, a heavy weight that won’t fall away. Not quite the Albatross of the Ancient Mariner, but a weight none the less.

It took a change in the weather pattern to give me sunshine and a spring in my step.

Theres a more relaxed pace to gardening in Autumn, the rush of summer planting and picking, watering and weeding is over. Time to linger a little. Well as long as you are wrapped up well for the job – a beanie, scarf and long wooly socks are essentials. Those and a flask of tea!

Autumn brings clearing up jobs, preparing for Winter and Spring. It’s a time to look around you and ponder on what you will do next year. With my flask of tea at the ready, and maybe some ginger nut biscuits I’m equipped to day dream. Saturday gave me time to sit and ponder, to sip my tea, to much on a biscuit and notice the details.

The allotment will never be a pristine showpiece, with manicured paths and edges or smartly laid out beds. But this time of year gives me a chance to create a bit of order, to clear the weeds before the real wet of winter kicks in, to tidy up the canes and netting. empty compost onto beds, let’s call it a pre-spring clean up.

My temperate climate has it’s positives and negatives, on the one hand it means that there is still plenty that will grow over winter – there is chard, leeks, kales, broccoli, pak choys and some hardy salads. The flip side of the picture is that slugs and snails and their eggs can survive well over winter, especially if they have some cover, only to return in Spring to munch on my delicate seedlings.

I try to find a balance between clearing and planting – leaving some dried seedheads and stalks for beneficial creatures to over-winter is essential, I’ve learnt not to cover my soil (as I did last year prior to going to France for the winter) with weed suppressant as it provides the perfect sheltered spot for slugs and snails.

I’m a titivator – I don’t practice the art of double digging, as many generations of gardeners have done, I titivate the soil to ease out the weeds, and hopefully any frost we get will help kill off the nasties and leave the worms alone to work their wonders.

The window that Autumn gives us gardeners is closing, I need to get the compost trenched and the broad beans and garlic sown before the wet of winter arrives for when I can no longer walk on the soil – I risk tramping the heavy clay down, besides adding several inches to my height with soil attached to my wellies isn’t a great look.


  • I’m not with you at all about the “relaxed pace” of autumn; I find there is so much to be done, so much to prepare and tidy up and cut back and generally just DO STUFF TO that I actually feel much more stressed than in spring.

    (And without the satisfaction of things sprouting and growing…)

    Of course it probably doesn’t help that I really want to finish painting the annex before winter… So much wood to paint, so many days of COLD fingers because you really can’t paint wearing gloves. (I don’t know why I can’t wear gloves for painting, but it just feels wrong. Believe me, I’ve tried…)

    • Oh there is still plenty to do, I wrote a list yesterday, but I have a bit more time to get around to them, well that’s what it feels like today, ask me next week and it may be different!!

  • The compost pile is built, and the garlic bed is topped-off…with any luck, there won’t be too much storm cleanup, and I can plant on Wednesday…Enjoy your cool sunshine!

  • Hi Claire – nice for you to have a little sunshine for working outdoors. Hopefully we will get a few milder days for tidying up too. After heavy wet snow at the weekend the grasses and remaining asters got flattened, so I shall have to cut back a lot. But I also try and leave things standing for the wildlife if I can.

    • Well we had another gorgeous sunny day today, but a proper forst overnight, so I’m hoping some of the good weather is moving your way! It makes such a change from cloudy and wet!!

  • Like you, I cherish sunny days in Autumn, especially as winter draws near. The daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter. It’s a time to catch my breath a bit and ponder what I will birth at the end of winter’s hibernation!

  • After the whirlwind of a year you had, I’m glad to read that you finally took some time to sit back and day dream for a spell. If anyone deserves some “downtime”, it is surely you, Claire. I hope you manage to fit a few more of these days into your Fall schedule. 🙂

    • Bless you John, but the year isn’t over and I still have so much to do!! It will either get done or it wont !
      But taking these brief sunny dry days and enjoying them is so important for the mind and the heart – to take a moment and just be! Oh and drink tea…… 🙂

  • I’ve learned my new word for the day…titivate! (though word press is certain I mean titillate – which once I would have but no longer!) and you’ve reminded me that even tough it’s pouring hard here it might be just the right time to upset the weeds a bit before the frost. Thanks Claire!

  • It’s great to be out in the garden on sunny autumn days – good for the soul. Even better if you end the day feeling like you’ve achieved something. It sounds like you’re doing ok on that front!

  • I hope I don’t regret uttering the following words, but…
    For the first time since we moved here I feel like a gardener again! My garlic is in, my winter leafy veg is sprouted, as have my peas, and all are covered against the awful wind we are having for the past several days). I have a few late onions waiting for me before it gets too cold, and only a few weeds to pluck. OH YES! My broad beans came, were planted almost three weeks ago, and have begun to sprout! They take some time to show up, huh? I am so excited, and thank you, Claire, for introducing me to them. I can’t wait to try them! ~Lynda

    • That is fabulous Lynda, just fabulous. I miss my gardening when I’m away or busy or unable to get out – it’s such a part of me. So I’m so happy that you are happy !!
      I’ve just sown a few broad beans, we’ll see if they germinate, but you are right they do take ages to come through! Hope you have a super week 🙂

  • This with gardening I leave to the professionals like you. It has to do with my impatient and that I really hate garden work, was forced as a child by grandma – maybe I have told you already. But I love to admire beautiful gardens – and I enjoy their company. Your photo gives a gentle and caring picture of the gardener you’re.

  • I always though “mud heels” were fun. I used to see how tall I could get with the mud caked to the bottom of my boots before the weight of it would cause it to fall off.

    • A new game for me to play at the weekend when I go and plant the garlic !! I wonder how high I can get, I always fancied being a bit taller 🙂

  • The temperature drop this week was very rapid and very chilling. Exactly as you said. Even though the cold, I too love walking around my garden in the autumn sun. This time of the year, it always shines with the most amazing colours. And I wanted to say you have great looking garden. I know it must be hard keeping your garden in such a good shape as maintaining it must be more than hard work. Especially now the autumn is in its full power. But I´m sure it’s not only about the hard work, but also about joy. Thank you for sharing the pictures and the gardening tips with us and I also want to wish you luck with your gardening efforts.

    • Hi Jamie thanks for popping in and lovely to meet you! it sounds like you have a lovely garden too – full of colour! I think the vegetable garden tdoes take effort, but for me it’s a pleasure, something I totally love to do – besides I get to eat the results 🙂 I guess like anything in life, it takes effort which reminds me I still have lots of bulbs to plant in the garden if I want some Spring colour ! And thanks again fo ryour kind words – hope you have a great week

    • you know I think the garden has that effect on me Celia. Which considering I’ve spent the day in London, which seemed extra busy as it’s half-term holidays I feel like I need the mellowness of the garden 🙂

  • We have similar garden styles. Though right now we are getting the edges of the hurricane so my peas are getting somewhat battered! And they just started giving us some peas.

  • It sounds lovely, Claire! I think it is important to slow the pace in order to really observe and begin to make the plans for next spring. I think it’s the rhythms of the garden that give me the most pleasure. Even though our temperatures are so much warmer, it’s still not the time for sowing, but instead, for clearing and cleaning and cutting back. I just carry a flask of water and not tea! 🙂 I enjoyed envisioning you in your lovely allotment. It sounds beautiful to me…without manicure! And “titivator” is a new term to me! I love learning new words! 🙂

  • Hi Claire! Looks like we are sharing almost the same weather, but you make it sound so idyllic 😉 Nothing like my cold and damp day and trying to fetch the kids from school under a heavy rain…just charming! 😉 May a have a cup of tea too?

  • That’s what I should do when I am out tidying up the fall garden, bring along a flask of tea, no make that coffee, some chocolate would be nice too.

  • I do welcome the change of pace in the autumn, although I find I get a bit behind as I’m too eager for a welcome break. Must get my garlic in right away, as we’re rapidly sliding towards winter here! Lovely post Claire.

  • Hi Claire. The gentle pace of autumn gardening seems so long ago! I’m in the frantic stage, trying to get the entire summer garden planted out before the seedlings out grow their pots.
    Relax and enjoy your autumn, it is reward enough for all the effort that has been put in over the last few months.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

  • Lovely to think of you enjoying your garden this time of the year, Claire. We had some snow this morning after a few dys of wind and rain from the Sandy storm, just a reminder from Mother Nature that winter is almost here and our lovely autumn days are at an end. I will enjoy thinking of you in your garden in the autumn sunshine.

  • Love your pansies header. I just replanted my garden with greens for winter. Every fall I say I’ll do a cover crop to replenish, but instead sow in some compost and manure, and plant greens because I get sun finally when the leaves drop. 🙂

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