The garden is ready for an autumn blitz

An elephant hawk moth caterpillar consuming one of the last leaves of one of Helen's fuchsias


It has reached that time of the year when everything is crying out for a tidy-up in the garden.  Last Saturday we had an apple-picking afternoon, using a very handy contraption that consists of a toothed ring attached to a little canvas bag. The teeth catch on a twig behind an apple, and with a little twist of the extendable pole the fruit drops neatly into bag.  We had family (and much appreciated they were) down to Swanage to help, and the store was filled, as well as boxes and buckets.  The less-than-perfect fruit are fine for immediate use, and, as with other apple-tree owners throughout Swanage, the bucket is at the front gate, and is emptied daily by passers-by.  Thank you for taking them!  It is such a pity to see them go to waste, though nothing is entirely lost,  The rotten fruit goes on the compost heap and will be returned to the soil.


Some plants are finished now - including all of the sweet peas - but the fuchsias in pots by back and front doors are looking splendid.  Well, all except one, which has been eaten by elephant hawk moth caterpillars.  The runner beans are in full production, as are the tomatoes, and foraging is fully underway, with several pounds of blackberries in the freezer - and more still to be picked.


Some late sightings bring a reminder of the glorious wealth of nature all around us, with swallows gathering towards the coast, a lone late swift circled over the rectory on the last day of August, a flash of bright yellow at Durlston the other day announced a single migrant clouded yellow butterfly, and, of course, this wonderful year for painted lady butterflies continues.  There has been an emergence of small whites too, with plenty everywhere there is sun and nectar.


Clearing the undergrowth hiding some gorgeous cyclamen that John Wood planted years ago, and that have spread here and there, made me think about what has done well and what not so well over the summer season.  Success has been the sweet peas, dahlias, apples and roses.  Disappointing have been the vegetables generally; crops a bit down on 2018 and a lot eaten by unmentionable pests!  I know, no need to remind me, they are God’s creation too…..


John Mann