Spring seems light year away.  November can be ‘dreek’.

This roughly translates here in our garden, at an altitude of twelve hundred feet sheltered in a valley in the Black Mountains, as dreary, dark and wet.  Relentlessly wet.  The garden is surrounded by mainly commercial coniferous forest with majestic huge trees on bright sunny breezy days but November days can be very gloomy when it seems never to get properly light.

I have kept a weekly garden diary for the past 14 years where I record the plants that are flowering, the vegetables and fruit we are harvesting, the tasks we are doing and the weather.  The word ‘dreek’ appears with leaden-sky frequency in November diary entries.

Over the past couple of weeks the ‘dreek’ has, I have to acknowledge, been interspersed with huge damaging winds and solid, driving rain.  Just to relieve the monotony and cheer us up.  This variety of November weather of course, for a garden, means that any hopes of tasteful ‘architectural seed-heads and gasses’ effects are left either at drunken 45 degree angles or smashed to the ground in sodden messy heaps of mouldy vegetation. Such has been the fate of some areas in the garden.

Not all Novembers are as miserable as the last two weeks.  A sample of other entries in previous years reveals other themes:

  • snow on hills
  • wet, cold and horrible
  • first frost and then snow mid-week
  • very wet and very windy (we’re back to our first theme, here)

We can’t really complain because earlier this month I wrote ‘Glorious sunshine on 1st November.  Such a beautiful day.  Autumn colours glorious.’  It’s all gone downhill from there.

glorious autumn colours

glorious autumn colours

autumn colours

more autumn colours

autumn berries and stems

autumn berries and stems

lysimachia punctata in its winter garb

teasels more or less upright

lysimachia punctata in autumnal hues

lysimachia punctata in autumnal hues

On a lighter note to brighten a dreak November day here’s the list of things we’ve been doing in the last couple of weeks with some pics.

Cleaning and oiling tools in the potting shed and re-arranging where they are stored – very satisfying to be doing a task such as this in the (relative) warmth of the shed with the smell of linseed oil on a cheerless grey day.

 

tidy tools

tidy tools

Sowing seeds for next year in the propagator and moving to the new greenhouse when germinated – sweet peas, sweet Williams, cornflowers.

sweet peas

sweet peas

Re-fashioning a damaged bird feeder with prunings from the willow fedge.

willow bird feeder repaired

willow bird feeder repaired

Stringing up the onions which have been drying on the kitchen windowsills.

the largest onion

the largest onion

 

onions drying, a fresh batch of soda bread and tulip catalogues

some of the onions drying, a fresh batch of soda bread and tulip catalogues

Raking up leaves, filling the leaf mould bins, choosing our favourite leaves, making a leaf trail and planting out Fin’s, Maisie’s and Granny’s nut trees (grown from cobnuts we planted 2 years ago) with the grandchildren.

we're going on a leaf hunt...

we’re going on a leaf hunt…

this is my favourite leaf

this is my favourite leaf

I can't choose...

I can’t choose…

making a leaf trail

making a leaf trail

planting Maisie's nut tree

planting Maisie’s nut tree

willow hoop and more leaves

willow hoop and more leaves

Enjoying the sights and sounds of the wind in the trees, and the river, streams and waterfalls crashing and splashing.

crashing, splashing river

crashing, splashing river

crashing, splashing waterfall

crashing, splashing waterfall

Seeing a kingfisher flying up the river.  Magical.

This is where I saw the kingfisher. Honest.

This is where I saw the kingfisher. Honest.

Perhaps November isn’t so dreary and depressing after all.

And, looking forward to the Spring, I have just ordered some more tulips, to replace the ones that the ‘nocturnal digging thing’ has been systematically digging up each night, at discounted prices (Sarah Raven).  These will be lightly tossed in paprika, planted deep, covered in chicken wire which will be securely pegged down, mulched with the deepest mulch of anything I can lay my hands on including anything particularly smelly with a battery-operated ‘rodent repeller’ placed next to them.  I have feelers out for the loan of squirrel traps and Ian is ordering an infra-red camera.  The battle is not yet lost.

tulips covered in chicken wire

tulip bulbs covered in chicken wire

We will have tulips for our NGS visitors to admire next year and the sun will shine again.