Autumn is starting to appear; her misty fingers pushing aside the hot haze of summer with cooler breezes and golden leaves. The garden has that slightly faded look after the dry end to the summer, but bright orange and red berries from the rowan tree and Jerusalem cherry plants add vivid pops of colour. Cyclamen also peak through the ground, their pastel colours and delicate petals more reminiscent of spring than autumn.
I unearth carrots and finish the last of the broad beans and spinach. The parsnips and swedes are growing well and Brussel Sprouts are swelling on their stalk, currently the size of peas but promising to be ready for Christmas! A few small courgettes and cucumbers linger; they did not grow very big this year, so I pick them to enjoy and pickle before the cold gets to them. I also pick the last of the tomatoes, wrapping the green ones in newspaper and leaving in the warm for the few days to ripen. They don’t taste so sweet when you do this, but are perfect cooked up in tomato sauce to eat or freeze for later in the year.
We go foraging in the countryside, filling tub upon tub with blackberries and sloes until our fingers are stained purple and we can pick no more. I make blackberry pies – a rustic galette with creamy vanilla ice cream – and smoothies galore. The sloes I freeze ready to make jelly when I have some cooking apples ready too.
I sow a few spring bulbs and harvest the seed from drying plants; flowers to plant and fennel to use in the kitchen. Seed heads make attractive additions to autumnal flower arrangements; their unusual shapes and patterns a reminder that you don’t always need bright colours for beauty.