September gave us the nicest month of weather I have had since my move to the UK nearly two years ago. Almost the entire month was Indian Summer weather, with beautiful blue skies, warm temperatures, and very little wind or rain. Now, having turned the calendar page to October, and the official start to the Autumn two weeks ago, we are getting autumnal weather, with the last two days overcast, cloudy and rainy. In fact, it was so dark most of yesterday morning that little night lights we have in the hallways that are light sensitive did not turn off by themselves; I had to switch them off.
With the change in the weather, we have been changing our activities. On Sunday we harvested the large heads from some of the sunflower plants in the back garden; the heads were over one foot in diameter, and they were on huge stalks over ten feet tall. I cut several of the stalks down to make room for some of our fall and winter plants – wall flowers. I had not known about wall flowers until we planted some last fall, and was pleasantly surprised how they grew and flowered during the winter, and also by their beautiful early spring display of multi-colored flowers. So last Saturday we bought several packages of plants from a stall in the Salisbury market, and were lucky to get them planted on Sunday. The plants were looking rather wilted when we put them in the ground on Sunday afternoon, but the drizzle yesterday and the rain today has been good for them. Meanwhile, we left the sunflower heads out to dry, and hope that the birds will enjoy eating some of their seeds this winter.
On Saturday we also bought four or five packages of bulbs in the market. We got two more packages of the huge bulbs that produce the large daffodils that did so well in the front garden last spring, as well as a bag of mixed smaller daffodils. We also bought two bags of red tulips, and one bag of blue parrot tulips; I hope the tulips next spring will do better than ours did last spring – or you may not see any more tulips in this corner of Laverstock. All of the bulbs need to be planted by the end of the month, so our next task is to decide where to plant them, and then to get them in the ground. Finally, on Sunday we also set up a small plastic covered greenhouse that we have put on one end of our patio, next to the house. I have filled 8 or 9 pots with hollyhock seeds, and put the pots in the new little greenhouse in the hope that we might get some little seedlings to plants out next spring.
The trees are beginning to display some beautiful fall foliage, with the beginnings of yellows and oranges. The fall foliage is one of my favorite things about living in this part of the world. In San Francisco the fall was often the warmest time of the year, with the summer fog gone, and there were very few trees there that would turn color. One can see some fall color in California, but you must travel more inland to see it, and nowhere in California is the foliage as spectacular as it is on the east coast of America or here in England. Stourhead, the National Trust home and gardens here in Wiltshire, is nationally famous for its gardens, which are particularly spectacular when the trees turn color, and we look forward to visiting them again in the next few weeks.
Grocery shopping yesterday also reflected the change of the seasons. The grocery store was brimming with bags of British apples, along with 2-for-1 priced displays of broccoli, cauliflower and other fall crops.
I do think that Autumn is one of our most beautiful seasons, and even with the rain today, I am enjoying this time of the year.