Notes from a riverside garden – November 2021

Notes from a riverside garden – November 2021

Autumnale leaves carpeting the lawn

A carpet of autumn leaves

A recent blustery day resulted in a rather large branch from one of our weeping willows, loudly snapping off and crashing into the river. It had made the river virtually impassible for canoeists. We contacted our excellent tree surgeon, who lives in the village, who came the next day to deal with the problem. A visit to our garden to deal with an issue quite frequently involves him having to use a rowing boat to accomplish the task! Very skillfully he managed to remove the large branch piece by piece from the river and we now have a good pile of future firewood on the bank. Our next task is to wheelbarrow the logs to a safer place to avoid all his efforts being washed downstream in a flood!

An equally spaced row of columnar Golden Irish yew, Taxus Bacatta Fastigiata Aurea, line the path to the bridge over the sluice gates. They are festooned in red lantern like berries, which look dramatic against the green and yellow foliage. Although poisonous to us the birds seem to relish the berries and the blackbirds in particular are having a feast. The guelder rose shrubs, Viburnum Opulus, are hanging with large clusters of glossy, scarlet round berries but they seem to be ignored by any bird at the moment. This shrub has a lot of good features and the leaves develop a deep red hue in the autumn.

Autumn leaves of yellow and red on a Viburnum Opulus bush

Viburnum Opulus

The leaves are falling and are being gathered up for the leaf mould bin or to be added to the compost heap. Thankfully, my husband loves raking or mowing up the leaves as he is an avid leaf mould maker! Not my favourite task! I must say the resulting compost is fantastic and well worth the effort and it is added to our “mix” of compost for pots, mulching etc. Much of the leaf material has come from the striking Acer Freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’, which has been a beacon of scarlet, orange and deep red leaves.

Autumn leaves of red and gold on an Acer tree

Acer Freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’

The quince tree has produced a very small quantity of large, yellow fruits, only enough to make a few jars of quince jelly. I regularly check beneath the ancient Conference pear trees for windfalls. There is definitely a race between myself and the moorhens as to who gets to the limited number first! The harvest from the orchard as a whole has been very poor this year.

As I write the delicious smell of my Christmas cake baking is wafting through from the kitchen. A reminder that Christmas is only a few weeks away. The pressure is off regarding the demands of the garden during the winter months. We can sit back and relax; plan any changes we may want to make to the garden as there is always room for improvement.

Reflections of trees and bushes with autumn leaves in a millpond

Autumn reflections in the millpond

The wildlife that shares this garden with us carry on with their busy existence. We have the heron who visits every day, accompanied by the seasonally numerous cormorants who create havoc in the millpond, spreading silvery, leaping shoals of fish before them. The kingfishers also regularly perch above the millpond, ready to strike in an instant. Mallard ducks mill about on the back lawn and Island, occasionally accompanied by the pair of swans. Otherwise it is a quiet time on the river; only the early morning fisherman and the dedicated canoeist quietly going about their pursuits. Generally a peaceful and calm time of year for all of us who live along the riverbank. SB