I love this time of the year. That special low light – intensifying a mellow spectrum of colours that would be too much in spring and summer – heralds a burst of energy and a need to give my garden a helping hand before season’s end.

The meadow’s cut and the paths are raked, and filled with enthusiasm for my new mower, I’ve decided to turn and area of long grass to mown sward, just to give that part of the garden more of a sense of space, and to make sure I won’t get wet legs when I hang out my washing.

So I’ve razed and scraped, gathered and abraded, filled hollows with soil and flattened old anthills, and am just about to mix grass seed with sharp sand and broadcast it over the area. If there’s no rain, I’ll water, and because nothing’s nicer for my bantams than a large helping of grass seed, I’ll have to cover the space with netting. 

As the leaves start to fall, I rake up those that fall on paths and main lawn, but leave the rest to rot and cover the borders and wild parts of the garden. Checking my builder’s bag full of last year’s leaf mould, I pulled out a handful that contained a squirming silvery slithery slow worm. Not sure who had the biggest fright. Will be very careful when I empty the bag and make sure there’s a nice warm alternative compost heap nearby.

The hedges have been cut, but we’ve left areas of ivy to flower for the bees. My success with a modern lawn mower encouraged me to seek out other new clever devices. A visit from the guys at Stihl introduced me to a whole new range of compact cordless power tools. Amazingly light, battery-driven and really quite quiet, I marvelled at their strimmer and hedge cutter; was slightly terrified by the possibilities of their small chainsaw, but couldn’t quite see the need for a leaf blower.

I’m glad the industry is taking note of the ever-present army of gardeners who aren’t sturdy and tall, who want tools that they can carry without getting a hernia, who want to work with without being deafened, but still want to do a good job. The batteries seem to last a good 40 minutes without re-charge.

I’ve planted three new bags of purple tulips – ‘Queen of the Night’ and ‘Black Parrot’ in plastic flowerpots, so I can bring them out in bud and pop them in containers, to take them away as they fade. Narcissus ‘Thalia’ is another favourite, and I’ll add to my collection, plus a pan of Dutch iris ‘Black Beauty’ to cheer me up in the depths of winter.

Thoughts of winter don’t depress me yet, I’m just making the most of this precious time of the year, doing jobs that will reward my forethought by the bucketfull when they’ll really be needed.


  • The Stihl HSA 56 Compact Cordless Hedge Trimmer
  • The Stihl FSA Compact Cordless Grass Trimmer

If you are new to productive gardening, check out my interview with Green Gardens here: keeping-with- kitchen-garden/

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