Monday, 23 November 2015

November Musing ~ Frost Warning


It seemed as if the frost would never come. Late November, and there are still lush mounds of bright green nasturtium leaves, around the feet of the yew cones in the plates-bandes - the trailing sorts, spilling out in their exuberance over the little box hedges, which are themselves sprouting soft new growth after the August clip which should have seen them safely into winter.

Pots of violet-blue streptocarpus which should by now be over-wintering on the bathroom window-sill are still lining the steps up to the back door. There are white geraniums and raspberries still. Roses too of course - Portlands and Chinas, moschatas and noisettes - even a solitary pink bloom on the blue steel foliage of 'Queen Of Denmark'. And all the tender evergreens are still outside : a single precious ball of phillyrea, three pyramids of myrtle, and fifteen big standards of Seville oranges which will take two of us to shift when the time comes. In a normal year they would already be tucked in the house.

And tonight there's a cold rising wind from the north. As darkness falls I can smell the cold. On the six o'clock news there are pictures of snow in Scotland and on the east coast. It's too late to move things now. I go back out again to swathe the orange trees in fleece, drag the myrtles and phillyrea into shelter, move the geraniums and streptocarpus closer to the walls of the house. The wind whips the fleece out of my hands, unravelling. I go back in to fetch string and scissors and a flashlight. By the time I finish, the cold is pinching my nostrils and striking up through the soles of my canvas shoes.

In our house we call the 'homework on the bus' syndrome. It's always the same : however much time I have, I always seem to be behind it".

 ~ extract from 'The Morville Year' by Katherine Swift.

Illustration of 'Blowing Leaves' by Arthur Rackham.

Was it just me or was anyone else dashing around yesterday to get all those sensitive plants under cover before that first frost descended?

18 comments:

  1. What a great extract you have chosen and a lovely picture too. My tender plants had already been moved into the greenhouse but I went out and swathed them in fleece as well just in case - some years they survive the winter, sometimes not - they have a 50/50 chance.

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    1. Same philosophy here Elaine - some you win, some you loose :)

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  2. You're not alone, I got mine under cover at the weekend, very late this year though. Love the extract and of course, the illustration.

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    1. Oh I thought that you might have already had a frost Jo with you being on the east but obviously not this year :)

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  3. You have chosen two favourites of mine today Anna. I love Morville Hours and Arthur Rackham' s Autumn Leaves is wonderful. I hope everything tender is safely in now. I just wish all the tulip bulbs were too.

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    1. Same here Chloris ie the tulip bulbs :)

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  4. As I read this I was thinking it sounded like something Katherine Swift would have said so I am pleased to see that I was right! When we saw her at the Dower House last year she said she was (slowly) writing a third book but I don't think it has materialised yet - or if so I haven't heard anything about it. She writes in such a way as to leave you so disappointed to come to the end of the book. Your accompanying picture is brilliant of course. I am also pleased to say that I brought the few fuchsias and pelargoniums I have into the greenhouse the day before we went away, just beating those frosts!

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    1. Well spotted Cathy. I think that the third book ' A Rose for Morville' is due to be published in March next year. Glad to hear that you beat Jack Frost.

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  5. I loved this extract, and yes - we had a sudden temperature drop on Friday night and spent Saturday making sure everything was safe! I did manage to get a bit ahead this year, but we still only just finished as it was getting dark!

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    1. The same race for you too Cathy but it's all part of the fun.

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  6. Lovely musings and illustration, Anna, and I think it was the same everywhere but reality has got a firm grip. As the garden takes on all these fascinating shades of grey and brown all we can do is admire nature's versatility, treasure memories of happy, warm days and dream of things to come!

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    1. Thanks Annette. I like the those shades of grey and brown - it's good to have some down time in the year so that we can really anticipate and appreciate those warmer hues on the horizon.

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  7. The hard frost took me by surprise. We'd been away for the weekend and then a friend came for dinner and stayed longer than we thought. We hadn't seen her for ages so it was all good but then I didn't catch the weather and woke up on Monday to see a frost so thick I thought it had snowed. Fortunately there wasn't anything left out that I was worried about losing. I was a bit worried though that the frost had made its way into the greenhouse where my tender succulents are holed up. They should really have been on my kitchen window sill. I was lucky, they all seem to have survived. Hope you managed to kept everything undercover, fleeced etc in time.

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    1. I think that we had all been lulled into a false sense of security Lou by such a mild November. It must have been a relief to see that your tender succulents had proved themselves tough customers at least for one night. I imagine that they are now tucked in somewhere warm and snug indoors for the duration.

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  8. What a lovely picture! Frost is both pretty and deadly

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    1. Thanks for your visit and comment Neyon. You've hit the nail on the head with your comment :)

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  9. Beautiful excerpt! And isn't that always the case? My father was always bad about forgetting to move in our sensitive plants when cold fronts would blow in, and I seem to have inherited that trait! Luckily I have not had time to cultivate anything outside on my patio, since I just moved into a new apartment, so all I had were a few succulents and cacti to move around. Hope you manage to get everything covered or brought inside this time!
    Julie~FurnishMyWay

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  10. Many thanks for visiting and for your comment Julie. I'm sure that I will be caught out one of these years! Luckily I didn't have as much to bring in as on some previous occasions. I'm glad to read that you too beat the clock too in gathering in your tender plants.

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.