Cleaning up in a Peculiar Autumn

Cleaning up is never the most exciting nor enjoyable of gardening activities though there is a certain satisfaction when the work is done and so it was this week. We had tree surgeons here on Monday, two “climbers” and one who dealt with what they cut. We had seven trees removed completely, seven box maples (Acer negundo) and one Foxglove Tree (Paulownia tomestosa) and, interestingly, they had all been grown from seed and after twenty years of growth had outgrown their space and needed to be removed. The box maples were behind the garden shed and were overshadowing the vegetable patch and, for that reason alone, needed to go. The Paulownia was immediately outside the kitchen window and had provided shade to the patio for years but had grown to such a size that it threatened retaining walls which had already cracked and moved a little. It was a case to taking it out before it knocked the walls completely. And, then, there was a line of mature ash trees along the garden boundary which, as well as showing clear signs of ash die-back, had arching branches which put that side of the garden into deep shade, denying the plants beneath both light and rainfall.

The work on the ash trees lead to the greatest work for us as they ran along a twenty metres stretch of the garden and the dropping of cut sections to the ground along with the many runs in and out to clear them away damaged a number of shrubs and trampled much of the beds. The heavy debris had been taken away but what was left – the general brus of twigs and leaves, added a huge amount to the compost bin. Added to this, almost all the herbaceous plants were trampled and had to be cut down – more for shredding and adding to the compost heap. The work lasted into a third day but is completed and all is tidied up again – a job well done!

It has been a peculiar autumn. Meteorologists have September, October and November as the months of autumn but I am of the older solar persuasion and have always regarded August, September and October as the autumnal months so I am now approaching the end of autumn and find it extraordinary that is has continued to be so mild: we have not yet put on the central heating and I walked on the beach this morning in a short-sleeved shirt, feeling perfectly comfortable except for five minutes when a cool breeze blew up the estuary.

A view down the garden, to the river beyond and the far bank, with autumnal colours beginning to dominate

We are fast approaching the turning back of the clocks so the darkness of the evenings will draw in earlier. Yes, the mornings will be brighter but, as I am not fast off the blocks early in the day, that is of no benefit to me. This is the season of the SAD people, those affected by Seasonally Affective Disorder, where low light levels trigger a seasonal depression. The permanently miserable might well consider those only seasonally miserable as being less that dedicated to the cause, less diligent, less committed and I have wondered how life differs for the partners of each. Is the change from the summer to the winter mentality a difficult jolt or is the summer a great relief after the winter, a break, a rest. There is no rest for the partners of the permanently depressed and they deserve great sympathy. Thank goodness we have our gardens!

Finally, snapshots from around the garden – away from the work of the tree cutters and those who cleaned up:

15 thoughts on “Cleaning up in a Peculiar Autumn

  1. Its always sad to have to say goodbye to friends you have nurtured for so many years! My garden is much younger than yours, but the same issues are already arising! We are waiting till the leaves are off the Poplars that need removing to lessen the weight of what needs to come down! So far we have cut back the bamboos that were getting out of hand (removing the roots is taking a bit longer!) and the roses they were shading have burst into a great second flush of flowers – you can almost hear them rejoicing in the sunlight! I am also reducing my living willow fencing so there will be less maintenance!

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    1. Removing the roots of bamboo is a tough job – I removed one a while back, a pickaxe job! Poplars and willow are bound to lead to bother quickly, I’m afraid.

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    1. They do a very careful job. Each large branch is taken down piece by piece so as not to do damage, a long and tedious job – and all while suspended so very high above ground.

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  2. That is some serious work and I bet the plants underneath will grow like crazy next year with the extra light. I have mixed feelings about autumn, slightly depressing but I always think of it as the beginning of the garden year rather than a stuttering end. Once the leaves have dropped it is time to make changes and plans for an even better garden nest year. Your garden is looking amazing, as usual.

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    1. The benefit of extra light should make a big difference and also extra rainfall under the ash trees. It was always a very dry spot here so looking forward to next year so see how the area responds.


  3. I am one of those people who craves light and sunshine, especially come February. But I find it easier to get through winter when I can respond to and follow my diurnal rhythms, seeing winter as a mini hibernation when we can get cosy indoors and wait for spring – the problem with modern life is it pays no need to this very natural rhythm and forces people to get up and go to work in darkness – thankfully not the case for me any more as I work from home! But for now we’ve got autumn to savour – those lovely colours in your garden.

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    1. The winter darkness doesn’t bother me – I can sit and read/write/surf perfectly contentedly. I’m one of the permanently miserable ones and Mary the suffering partner!


      1. The fall garden is beautiful with the jewel tones. Less leaf clean up in the future? I have massive old trees with leaves that must be cleaned up, mulched and then back on the garden for a winter blanket. We can get a lot of snow here.

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      2. There will still be plenty of leaves to rake up and turn into leafmould – and to put back onto the beds in the following year. Of course, it might be suggested that if they were left alone they would settle on the beds themselves but that has proved not to be the case so intervention, and pleasant work, has to be done! Snow is a novelty here.


  4. I am jealous of your tree removal as there is still no sign of a twig being cut next door to me, but then they are still full of leaves. Are the maple stumps to come out too and – most important – did you get to keep any of the wood (lovely wood for furniture) ?

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    1. I have treated all the stumps to prevent regrowth but am leaving them where they are. The maple stumps are behind a shed, between it and the boundary fence so are not in sight. I can always plant, as was there before, some periwinkle, or the likes, as a cover up if needs be.

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  5. Hello Paddy,
    A great record of some serious tree surgery, and clearly a top notch efficient and careful team. I reckon apart from undertakers, tree surgeons are the one group of people who’ll never be short of work 😊. Particularly with maturing gardens and gardeners. But in spite of all this work, the garden still looks immaculate and a credit to you both, with lots of interest. It’s always a tricky call when to remove everything pre snowdrops, isn’t it? One of the few drawbacks I think of becoming a galanthophile.
    best wishes

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    1. The earlier snowdrops, Galanthus reginae olgae and its cultivars, do not do well in the open garden here so I only grow a few in pots in the glasshouse. It will be the middle of November before those in the open garden garden make an appearance and all is cleaned up for them!

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