In October I posted some photos of the autumn garden, including the dogwood hedge I have been cultivating on and off for years, when it still had pink leaves. Now it is all bare stalks, but they are a robust red, almost the only colour in what is a rather sombre landscape.
With the trees bare the house can be seen from the lane, showing just how big the garden is. We have had hard white frosts almost every morning, melting off slowly and in some sheltered areas remaining all day. But today there have been blue skies and bright sunshine, such that it's hard to remember it's winter at all. While the weather lasts I've been attacking another bramble patch, nowhere near as long, wide and high as the one I cleared a year or two ago, hoping that I can root it out before it really gets going with this year's growth - though it seems to me brambles never die down completely. Here's the bramble patch, before I started clearing it. I hope to replace it with a hedge of yellow dogwoods - we have a huge over-vigorous bush from which I have taken a few cuttings and some rooted stalks.
Which leads me to introduce you to my accomplice in these endeavours: my favourite secateurs. They are quite ancient, and for all I love them I don't treat them very well. Perhaps the worst instance is when they fell out of my pocket unnoticed while we were burning a vast pile of garden rubbish, and having hunted for them everywhere I had to conclude they were actually in the bonfire. The next day there they were, half-buried in the mound of grey ash, still warm, with every bit of colour and plastic sheathing burnt away, leaving only the blackened metal - but still perfectly serviceable. The trouble is, they are now very well camouflaged. If I put them down for a moment, especially now when the ground is covered with dead leaves, they are pretty much invisible. The other evening I had to hunt for them with a torch among a pile of buddleia choppings - to no avail. So they spent a night in the frost, and none the worse when I found them in the light of morning!
Like the warrior heroes of fantasy novels who name their swords, I call my secateurs Biter - fanciful, I suppose, but one might argue it goes with the writerly territory. After the latest instance of having to hunt for Biter, my husband wrapped the handles in yellow tape: a beautiful ballgown for a very resilient tool. When I saw it, I said, 'So, Cinderella shall go to the ball.' I hope Biter isn't insulted.