Virginia Barton

25 September 2014: Autumnal Blues


25 September 2014


If the bulbs have been delivered, it must be autumn. BH’s favorite season, and most definitely not mine.

The bulbs consist of a modest collection of hyacinth, narcissus, and scylla (white, yellow, and blue); a solid block of red tulips to add a touch of drama; and white anemones, more narcissus, and blue muscari. A bit of a hotch-potch and rather dull when written down, but it should cheer us through the spring.

A noble neighbour has given a mixed bag of  different flower types and colours for the border, and, with luck, some of the bulbs planted last year will have escaped the ravages of the squirrels and will come up smiling.




It has been an unusually dry year and even now, the pots on the terrace have to be watered daily. The other almost daily activity on the terrace is the filling of the bird-feeder. When this was purchased and put up for the amusement of BH, I had no idea how much extra work and expense it would entail. The finches, a whole gang of them, fight off all-comers and polish off the food within the day. The seed is called “Peckish,” and I bought 12 kilos of the stuff, thinking it would last for months. Other polite birds  pick up some of the leftovers from the ground beneath.

Pigeons, also inclined to gang warfare, muscle in for their share on the floor, for the mob of finches drop as much as they eat. When the rain eventually comes there will be a nasty mess of Peckish porridge. Is it the design of the feeder or the smallness of the seed or the sheer greed of the birds that is causing so much spillage? I keep thinking of Darwin and wonder what he would say.

(A voice echoes:

“Do not feed the wild birds, Madam, leave them to forage for themselves, unless you are in the grip of a prolonged freeze.”

Which we certainly are not.)


I was minded to cause a yew hedge to be planted to protect the terrace from a barrelling wind that never fails to knock over pots, decapitate plants, and generally cause havoc in the winter and early spring. It comes from right to left, north to south like an avenging angel. I thought a hedge would stop it in its tracks. Well it might, but it would also destroy the “view” diagonally across the garden and hinder access to the vital water barrel.

A yew hedge is very uncompromising. Instead I will cluster the pots nearer the wall for protection and keep the plants neat and low. Sort of crouching or huddled, like sheep in a fold.




I think it’s the progressive darkness that gets me down in autumn. Not a cheep from a bird till six in the morning, and the mob quits the feeder after five o’clock tea-time. BH cosys up to the TV (all the best programmes are on at this time of year), or is happy with his book. I, on the other hand, pace about nervously, looking for things to do outside but it’s too cold or pitch black. I can’t settle, and it takes me until the winter solstice to unwind and relax from my springtime “high”.

By New Year I know I’m on the up again and ready to scheme and plot, be it hedges, holidays or home-improvements. Poor BH dreads these  bursts of hyper energy, but is used to them after 56 years.

He’s Aquarius and I’m Aries. “Such opposites should never marry” we were told in 1965, by someone who purported to know.

It was too late by then.






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