Sunset after the solstice

Every day now the sun sets sooner. I looked up yesterday at 1/4 to 6 and realised the sunlight was fading and went out to find the sun just dipping behind the horizon to the right of the tree on the left; on this date it leaves the far horizon and creeps in behind the close hill. That steep curve has a compound effect on day length from now till the next solstice. Sigh. But as I live only 50km beyond the Tropic of Capricorn I have little reason to complain of short winter days…

Acer rubrum detail

As we walk around the garden now, we are on the lookout for autumn colour. This Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) is deceptive though: only the first branches have turned, as this rather poor distant shot shows.

Acer rubrum

These pics really are snapshots. Our walks have mostly been quite late, and I have used the camera on my S4 phone. It is a quite remarkable camera and functions in much poorer light than my entry level (and 4 year old) Canon SLR, but later pics have focus and/or depth of field issues and often there is an annoying blue cast to the shadows.  I have not yet had either the time or the inclination since returning from our holiday (I might still post on that) to do any serious photography…

Cercidyphyllum japonicum

Cercidiphyllum japonicum can be one of the glories of autumn. Our two trees are so-so, and here you can clearly see the damage caused by October’s hail. Their chief attraction is the fact that the dying leaves smell of burnt sugar, as far as I know the only tree with this quality. To me they smell of candyfloss (well that IS burnt sugar, right?) and many people smell strawberries. I was curious to see how the foreman’s sons (who I call Alpha and Beta here) would respond. Alpha (aged 10) after some sniffing lit up and said ‘Pineapple!’ which I thought was brilliant considering the unexpectedness of my question. Yesterday I picked a sprig of our indigenous mint which flowers very beautifully now and asked him what it smelt of. I loved his answer: ‘Colgate!’  It reminds me of my own disappointment when I first and finally sniffed at a magnolia. It smelt of gift soap!

The boys find a perfect universe

The boys love our walks and as so often happens, they dashed around the ‘stepping stones’, as I imagined children would, when we got to The Great Incomplete, as I tend to think of The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe ( about which you can read more here.) Boys being boys, they made their own rules though:

Caught cheating

Whilst on the subject of the boys – and introducing the dogs into the story – I love this pic of Beta and Monty. Monty is becoming quite grizzled, and I was horrified when one of my guests described him recently as fugly, but he is still full of games and joy (and visits to everyone in the valley). He loves nothing as much as a little personal attention. On a recent (cameraless) walk the interaction between Beta and Abigail, first with a fallen quince and then with a pair of pinecones, was a delight to watch. Is it because we can only dream of having their energy and dexterity that we so love children at play? Be it as it may, I love it when the boys join us on or walks!

Monty getting on

Here are the two dogs at the upper end of the Rosemary Terrace. It was with a pang that I suddenly realised that Abigail is also starting to age a little. However one of her sisters is quite matronly, and Abi is svelte and sassy… she is nearly seven after all…

Monty and Abigail at the top end of the Rosemary Terrace

Here we have a long view from within the parking area past the visitors’ entrance into the garden and with the same two pots at the far end of the view. Abi looking svelte and Beta looking active…

Looking along the rosemary Terrace

I prepared quite a number of pics for sharing tonight. But the rest will have to wait for a further post, which I hope will be quite soon. I’m off to bed now, bushed after a hectic week and play out on the first colour on Vitis vinifera. I really had to set up this picture, but night temps have started dipping below 10 degrees C (which is rather early), so autumn should gather pace now. My verdict is that at this stage it is rather slow for end March…

First colour in the vine


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