Autumn’s On the Way
With a nip in the air in recent evenings and the leaves on our virginia creeper turning an amazing dark bronze, it’s hard to ignore that Autumn is on its way. In a couple of weeks, this bronze foliage will turn into a fabulous flame display before being shed by the plant for its dormant period over the winter.
At the Barn, my little garden area is still looking lovely with the grasses blowing in the wind and several of the other plants giving a second burst of colour. Back in the Spring when it wasn’t easy to go to the garden centres, I took a couple of ‘chunks’ off a fuchsia at the house and plonked them into the granite troughs either side of the Clock House as a temporary measure. I really didn’t expect them to survive, as neither one of them had much root, but just look at them now! If they’re anything like the original plant, we’ll have the pleasure of them continuing to flower right through the Autumn until the first heavy frosts.
Another true sign of Autumn as the circle of toadstools that has appeared on the lawn by the Barn. There are hundreds of superstitions associated with these circles, which are often known as fairy rings. Many of them sound a bit sinister, but I think I’ll stick to the Welsh legends, which paint them as places of fertility and good fortune!
The more boring explanation is that a fairy ring starts when the mycelium (spawn) of a mushroom falls in a favourable spot and sends out an underground network of fine, tubular threads called hyphae. The hyphae grow out from the spore evenly in all directions, forming a circular mat of underground hyphal threads. The mushrooms that grow up from this circular underground mat form a similar pattern above ground. Gradually the underground mycelium at the centre of the circle dies out. Its living outer edges, however, keep growing year by year, and hence the diameter of the ring gradually increases. There are lots of different species which create these rings, some of which are so large that you may not realise that the arc of mushrooms you see on the surface forms part of a much bigger circle.
In the meantime, the cider orchards are heaving with a beautiful crop of apples and I’m going to have far more fruit than I know what to do with from the pear tree trained against a south facing wall in the garden. Thankfully, my mother-in-law has given me a recipe for pear chutney, which, having sampled a jar of hers from last year, is definitely going to be on my ‘to do’ list, along with my usual apple version. Nothing quite like a good cheese and home-made chutney sandwich, and a good ‘dollop’ adds a great depth of flavour to a casserole or curry, so I always try to have some on the shelf.
Back into the beautiful Autumnal sunshine now to carry on with the garden maintenance and make the most of this stunning (nearly) Autumn day.