An Autumn Garden Study

A cottage. A thatched one. A home for three. A garden for days.

On one supposed-to-be-sunny September afternoon, we stepped into the home of our founders to root around – rather literally – their homegrown garden.

Together we discussed Dahlias, Asters, Achillea and Echinacea; we foraged for courgettes, for tomatoes, for radishes and for artichokes; and together we returned to the kitchen to cook with our cuttings, and to later brew tea and to dunk biscuits.

For Lucy is a self-taught gardener. One who escapes into her green patch daily (when granted a window) to tend to the flora she’s sewn and grown and to the food that, if nature intends, shall prosper in line with the seasons. At present in her beds – that she companion plants so that flower and vegetable can support one another in their growth – there is to be found Dahlia (“that came up early for me this year, though I have lots of little heads still to flower so I should have a full September and October if I’m lucky.”); Aster (“such a lovely little daisy-like flower that I have dotted through multiple beds of mine.”); Achillea (“goodness, how that just keeps on going and going.”); Echinacea (“favourite of mine, which at this time of year appears mainly as seed heads, but I love those just as much and so do the birds to nibble on. They provide a welcome change in structure.”); various “thistle- things” to quote Lucy once more for their character so that not all is soft and tactile; and Agastache (“this is a new one for me and it’s been plentiful in bloom. I have the sort named Black Adder.”); and not forgetting an array of grasses (“so many species pop up and I think to myself, I’m sure I never planted that. In fact, what I learnt was often this can be down to bird droppings – who’d have thought it! They deposit and incredibly, it can be the beginning of the most beautiful flora.”) – to name but a few.

Vegetables grow aplenty in Lucy’s four principal raised beds. She counts in September fennel and artichokes which add further structure and longevity in harvest as well as a continued abundance of courgettes and cucumbers. The last of her tomatoes – cherry in size and both red and yellow in hue – remain for us to pick off from their vines to enjoy with our courgette and purple basil pasta dish come lunchtime. “Autumn is when I find things start to go over and need cutting back. I swap out summer vegetables like rocket and replace them with kale, and for the first time this year, I plan to try my hand at sprouts. For me this is precisely what gardening is all about, being creative, having a go, reading, researching and learning by doing. I say this, yet it does break my heart when something doesn’t survive. Equally, when something thrives, the joy it brings me is quite remarkable. It means so much to have nurtured a living something.”

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