Autumn produce from the garden and a bit of magic

The low, warm, golden, autumn sun has lured me out into the garden, the morning rays highlighting blooms, transforming them into beautiful jewels.

I tried to capture the magical atmosphere with pictures, but sadly they don’t quite compare to the real thing.

nasturtiumA nasturtium radiating the golden light

dahlia-paul-emoryDahlia – Paul Emory

dahlia-halloweenDahlia – Halloween, looking as spooky as a dahlia can get!

dahlia-cafe-au-laitDahlia, Cafe au Lait, shouting ‘put me in vase’!

dahlia-light-yellowDahlia, unknown. Looking very elegant.

dahlia-selinaDahlia Selina, which was glowing in the sunlight

dahlia-rip cityDahlia Rip City, looking mighty fine!

dried-articoke-flowersDried artichoke flowers that will give sone winter structure to the kitchen garden

We’re enjoying the autumn bounty from the garden. Squashes are not only a delicious kitchen delicacy that’ll store throughout the winter. They also make gorgeous table decorations. The usual bunch of garden flowers have made way for a platter of squashes, their colours are inspiring, with fabulous depth, more enticing than a Farrow and Ball colour chart!

squash-table-centreMy squash table centre

squash-honey-bear-crown-princeCrown Prince and Honey Bear, ready to be harvested

the-autumn-squash-bedMy Squash and courgette jungle!

butternut-squash-hunterThis fella sucessfully took my chair out of action this summer!

Every year I grow a few Cape Gooseberry (Physalis) plants; there orange fruits encased in a paper lantern have a unique zing which I find very moreish. They can also be served as an indulgent treat by pealing the paper lantern back to reveal the berry which can be half submerged in melted chocolate then allowed to dry, delicious!

cape-gooseberries-physalisA few Cape Gooseberries, a yummy garden snack

cape-gooseberry-physalis-growingThe delicate Cape Goosebery lantern

My apple thinning quest earlier in the year has paid off. The boring tedious task of thinning bunches of apples down to a pair has meant we have a lovely crop of apples this year.




applesA few shots of this years apple crop

The first Dahlia of the year

Dahlia unknownThe First dahlia of 2016 and it’s a stunner! The variety is unknown as the tuber was kindly given to me by a friend who’d had a garden clear out. It’s currently residing in a pot as I’ve run out of dahlia space (there are secret plans afoot though, I just need to evict my children from part of the garden!). Currently a pot is the best place for dahlias; the slugs are worse this year than I’ve ever known. A mild winter has failed to keep their population to a manageable size; they’re decimating my dahlias that were left to overwinter in situ and munching through my squash and courgettes. It is therefore with great guilt that I have succumbed to slug pellets, sadly they have become essential. I was up at the crack of dawn after applying the dreaded lurid blue poison, collecting dead slugs before the birds got to them. I managed to fill two flower pots. It was a revolting job but it did seem to work, there have been very few slugs the following mornings and my treasured plants are looking better already. Fingers crossed using such horrid chemicals will not have impacted too much on the wildlife.


We woke up this morning to our first frost. Frost in the grass

The drop in temperature has come as quite a shock, I’d got used to a balmy 15°c this autumn. I’m pleased the frost is here, the season change felt incomplete without the cold chill to signal the end of the growing season. Now it’s come there are jobs to be got on with. The dahlia foliage will be turning black, it’s now time to either dig up the tubers and store over winter or as I do prepare to leave in the soil over winter. I will cut back the foliage leaving 20cm of stem so I can see where the tubers are, then place a thick (at least 15cm) insulating mulch over each plant. You can use any mulch, but, if it’s a light mulch such as compost and likely to level out of time, I cover with fleece just to keep it in place. Come spring and the end of frosts distribute the mulch to a thinner layer and let the tubers sprout.

The warm weather led me into a false sense of security, I have neglected to pop cloches over my winter salad which is sown in the vegetable beds, a task for today. I will also have the fleece ready for my pea and broad bean shoots, if we have a long cold spell.

Even though it’s a Sunday, my children have no concept of a lie in, so we were up at first light, at 7am I was out pottering round the garden in a thick coat, pyjama’s and wellies. The frost takes the garden to another visual dimension. The delicate, intricate crystals give the garden a sharp stylish elegance. Below are a few pictures but sadly my photographic skills prevented me from capturing the early morning beauty.

The Veg patch in frost

The top vegetable bedsCavalo Nero in frostFrosted Cavalo NeroKale Redbor in the frostKale RedborSage in the frostFrosted SageSedum inthe frostSedumRose in the frost


I love dahlias. I first came across them in the Dahlia Garden at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, North California in 2005. My passion for them was instant, each flower a beautiful sculpture, the vast range of colour and shape just looked stunning en masse. It became the highlight of my California holiday, an enlightening moment. The Big Sur or El Capitan in Yosemite paled into insignificance. In the past I’d steered well clear of what I considered to be fuddy-duddy, complicated, troublesome, blowsy flowers. Now they are my slightly obsessive garden priority. How on earth can a girl live without dahlias!


With a little bit of love and attention a dahlia will pay you back 10 fold and more. I fill the house with them from June to the last frosts in November. I tend to leave my dahlia tubers in the ground over winter. After the first frost I cut them back and cover them with a 30cm mulch of leaf mould, compost, wood chip or whatever I’ve got to hand. At the end of March I’ll take off the mound of mulch, feed with fish, blood and bone, and allow the dahlias to shoot through in their own time. If you want to move dahlias or divide them, the tubers need to be dug up after the first frost, cleaned and left to dry for a couple of days in a greenhouse. Then cover with a dusting of compost and store in a dry shed or garage where they won’t freeze. Come March pot them up, and let them grow on in a greenhouse or conservatory, by May when there is no frost risk, plant them into the garden.

Most of the tubers I’ve dug up in the past have survived the winter, sadly my all time favourite ‘Thomas A Edison’ rotted to a mush when we moved. The husband, who must listen to some of my witterings, gave me replacement tubers for Christmas. A lovely friend who has a Brewery making the most amazing ale in South West France (, treated me to Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’, a variety I’d coveted for some time. So I’ve been in my conservatory (home to all seed sowing and precious plants) potting up my new dahlias. I’m excited to see the blooms in a few months.

Dahlia tuberCafe au Lait tuber ready to be potted up.