Shorter days, ripe fruits and turning leaves. Orb web spiders waiting patiently for a meal in the dead centre of their dew jewelled webs. Mornings when the Wye is cloaked by a slowly rising veil of mist and there’s a definite nip in the air. Fungi are popping up in unexpected places and nature’s colours are on fire.
Summer birds are heading off on long migrations and hedgehogs and bats are hunkering down to spend the coldest months asleep in hibernation. The next generation of many insects are biding their time as eggs or pupae and the seeds of this year’s wild flowers lie dormant under their duvet of fallen leaves until woken into life by the return next year of warmer weather and longer days.
I used to think of autumn as a sad time, the opposite of spring, as endings rather than beginnings for life, but in our gardens as in the whole of nature there are no endings or beginnings, just ebbs and flows in the cycle of life dictated by the turning earth.
Look under the drying remains of many summer perennials and even now you’ll see a new crown of leaves just waiting, but don’t think that the old growth is no longer needed. Resist the urge to be tidy, the old leaves are protecting the new from the worst of winter’s cold, they still have a part to play in the lives of the plants and in the lives of the small creatures using them as a winter home.
Our native plants and animals work perfectly together, if they didn’t evolution would have weeded them out long ago. Garden in harmony with nature, look, learn and most of all enjoy our gardens’ most vibrant season, autumn.