HANNAH FINCH: Final bright burst before decay sets in
THERE are little fires lit all over the garden. They flare in the first light of the morning and burn all day, not even dampened by rain or drizzle.
These oranges, rusts and russets are the colour of late summer here. It is the final bright burst before decay sets in.
The ruby sunflowers have arrived in a scale from cocoa brown, streaked red to ochre. They bring an intensity of structure and colour to the borders. And around their stems, the crocosmia dance like hot little flames.
There are dots too of calendula and a new edition to the garden, a red dragon — persicaria microcephala — which, thanks to the generosity of gardeners Carol and Graham Starkie, has lit a beacon where once only bare rose stems were evident.
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There is a melancholy in the mist which has begun to settle in the valley on most mornings now and in the dewy grass and fugged greenhouse lights.
That we are nearing the close of the season is evident in harvest from the vegetable garden.
Some growers may be facing a glut of cucurbits or beans.
Though my own produce has arrived this year at a slow and steady pace thus far, which caused some concern while choosing what to enter in the Christow and District Horticultural show not two weeks ago.
So much offered a promise of perfection if only the show had been a few days later.
Perhaps then the courgettes would have grown that little bit more or allowed five beans to straightened out.
Is it folly to judge your vegetables on the merits of looks and uniformity? It is not a call I would wish to make in any other walk of life.
And yet, I happily offer up my year's work to such inspection.
I'm not sure quite when tying raffia to the neck of a polished shallot became an acceptable Friday night past time, nor brushing a beetroot with a toothbrush before gently smoothing over with a baby wipe.
Perhaps it was when I started looking at Tupperware thinking 'that will come in handy'.
Whichever way, my work partly paid off in scooping first prize for my beautiful beetroots and a second for my mange tout.
I cannot truly express the glee I felt when I saw the little certificates next to the exhibits.
It was like finding presents under the tree on Christmas morning. A ridiculous level of happiness which should go against the humility of gardening, but so welcome, so delightful.