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and confused bumbles.
It is late afternoon and it is starting to cool. Night comes in so much faster as we head towards the shortest day. I love the light at this time of day and happily sit and watch it, wondering if I should grab my camera, knowing that once I do it will have changed. In through the window drifts an artichoke seed head. A marvel in itself that something so soft and light could have the knowledge to grow into the artichoke heart which I love to eat. As it drifts in the window it settles and seems to magically capture the light just so. It seems to be autumn personified.
“Your garden will get along quite well without you. It just won’t be your garden. It will be that piece of land where once a garden was, and there is not tragedy in that. Every square inch of our planet’s surface is trying to get back to a state where it feels at ease with itself, a way of being from which forestry and agriculture, road building, town planning and, yes, even gardening continually strive to hold it back. This is not whimsy. This is science.”
To Stand and Stare, Andrew Timothy O’Brien
I am reading about gardening with intention, which raised the question - why do you weed? What is the reasoning for it? Is it to keep the garden tidy or is there another reason? I thought about this after spending some time weeding the garden as part of my autumn tidy up. While sitting with my tea I realised I wasn’t weeding to keep the garden tidy - seed heads have been left, I weed so I can understand my garden better. I remove seedlings of troublesome plants that I know will take over beds if given full range to do so. I leave dandelions because I know that they are good food source for the bees at the moment. Clover is trimmed back to give other plants in the bed a chance to grow but it will be left to do as it wants in the warmer months when it flowers. I check the soil as I weed. I learn it is cold to the touch which means my window for planting anything new in the garden is slowly closing. While weeding I can see what insects and most importantly how many worms are about in the garden. As I weed I place pea straw on the bare soil that is left. And so while I tick the box on the faceless they calendar tasks for the year I have tweaked it to be more about the garden and it’s general health rather than how the garden looks. In places it may look a bit tidier than before but for the most part it is still the messy jungle that I love so much.
The sounds in the garden are changing along with the seasons. If I hear a bumble zoom by it grabs my attention, I notice it against the quietness that has settled around me. The hustle of the summer months is long gone. The presence of bees in the garden is fading. But they still appear when the weather warms and the sun stretches out across the garden. I watch one fly about and sense the urgency of their work. We’ve had cold snaps and warm days and it feels confusing, a confusion that is also felt by the garden as spring flowers start to appear. It is too soon I tell them. I watch the bumble as it finds a food source in the cornflower and cosmos I remembered to dead head and that are still flowering on. I watch it rest on a Chrysanthemum, fighting hard to find it’s pollen source, giving up in frustration when it’s mass of petals hide any pollen if there is any to be found. It is a lesson in what to grow to support pollinators playing out in front of me. I take notes and over the winter months I will think of all I have learnt in the garden this season and think of ways to improve and enhance so that come this time next year the bumbles are less frustrated.