Yes, as we say here, the evenings are drawing in; the house lights need to be turned on earlier each eveining with each passing week; the sun is later rising in the morning – though this is not my time of day and I rarely view it – and the light in the garden has certainly changed. We have less and less, thank goodness, of that glaring light of mid-summer which I find unpleasant and uncomfortable – perfectly fine for a holiday in Italy but not for everyday living! – and more and more of that softness that comes with dull skies and a lower sun. Of course, this appreciation will pass and the same conditions will soon be described as dull, dreary and depressing but, at the moment, they come as a welcome relief.
This softer light brings with it a sense of protection, a closing off from the outside world, an exclusion of intruders, a sense of refuge from the outside world which echoes the hortus inclusus, the enclosed garden, of earlier garden history. Of course, the obverse term, hortus exclusus, might also be well applied, depending on the mindset of the gardeners within – are they looking inwards to themselves and their space or is the attitude to dissuade others from entering? Whichever, and my attitude wavers between one and the other, I find this light, this time of year very much to my liking.
These views in softer light appeal to my eye more than the harsh brightness of a summer’s day. I prefer the gentleness, the ease, the evocation of woodland that they convey to me and, as it an actual woodland garden, there is that sense of refuge and prospect, of safeness yet openness, and the freedom to venture out, for there is much that is attractive, while holding the safety line which will bring us back to our safe place again.