Now that the equinox is almost on us, I’m leaving the house just about dawn, and the only ones up are the joggers and the dog-walkers. I’m catching some bird behaviour I hadn’t expected, too. Ther mallards are all asleep on the muddy banks exposed by low water. Sometimes the turn of the tide catches them out, and they float away, bobbing like corks with their heads under their wings, apparently not a bit put out. The pigeons all sleep on the warm roof of a house where the central heating has been turned on, and the insulation isn’t up to much. And the sparrows are all gathered in a big leafy tree, usually a sycamore, where they appear to keep each other awake all night gossiping. Robins, blackbirds and a thrush are very early risers, and are marking out winter territories with song. The gull colony has dispersed, and their chimneys are occupied by crows and jackdaws. The housemartins are still here, but won’t be for long, and I’ve heard the first greylags.
I’ve been in the garden today, tidying up after a long time when I couldn’t seem to get out.Most of the flowers are over, but there’s still a bit of colour. These marigolds are planted at the edge of the vegetable patch, to take thutilitarian edge off it, and I hope to use them for both skin cream and plant spray to reduce mildew.
The witch hazel has been a fabulous addition to the garden. It flowers prolifically in January, comes into leaf early, and has now turned this lovely rich russet colour.
The berries have started to show. As well as this bright rowan – which the blackbirds haven’t got round to yet, I’ve saved the hips of three roses – the alba maxima, the gallica and the sweet briar, which have all ripened beautifully in this textbook summer we’ve had. I’m going to sow the seeds, and we’ll see if any of them come true. I’ve started to bring the tender plants into the greenhouse, to prune the bushes and to think about bulbs and next year’s window boxes and vegetable crops. The year is at the turn!