Home from the South of France to a familiar scene that still came as a shock: an East Anglian drought. We have been so spoilt by soft weather this summer, the garden resplendently green, that browning grass and crisp fallen leaves blowing into corners bring me sharply back to reality.
And yet there has only been a short dry spell while we were away; a few days in the 70s and a blustery wind. I thought the almost constant rain would have made the soil drought-proof for months. But no; one spit down it is crumbly and dry. I suppose the formidable toplive-hamper on every plant has its immediate consequences below ground, too.
It’s a showy season, though, with far more roses than September usually brings making a completely different colour harmony from the early summer one. Now they have japanese anemones, michaelmas daisies, sedums and salvias for company. The mid-summer lop has brought us little second flowering on delphiniums and the rest.
Of the roses the hybrid musks (Essex bred, many of them) give as good a display as any, and of them Autumn Delight takes the prize, with longer and showier shoots than in summer. Its cream-to-milk flowers show up beautifully against dark leaves and thornless plum-dark stems.
Inspecting the progress of tree-climbing roses I see that Paul’s Himalayan Musk, in its fourth year in a scruffy Chinese pine, has put on 15 foot shoots from the base, and its previous year’s shoots are colonizing a California live oak. I love vigorous plants, but they have their consequences: viz the embarrassing size of the bonfire pile.