Beauty in decay.

Autumn is just starting here.

The leaves on the trees have only just started to turn, but other leaves are ready to drop. This sunflower leaf is yellowed and over. I haven’t cut down the old flowers, as goldfinches and marsh tits hang from the ripening heads, picking out seeds.

Migratory birds come over the garden . Swallows and martins are nearly all gone and when the wind picks up, red kites catch a ride over to the south.

Up in the Vosges Mountains the battle sites of the First World War are still softening into the landscape. Terrible sites of slaughter, that were blasted of every tree and man, are beautiful in the autumn.

If you look closely at the photos you can see that the hedge is actually the original barbed wire that separated German and French soldiers. Today, the rust seems organic and the trees have regained the dispute heights .

There is real beauty in such decay.

Curious southern right whale nudges paddleboarder in Argentina – video | Environment | The Guardian

A rare encounter was caught on video when a Southern Right whale seemingly plays with a woman on a paddle-board and pushes the board gently forward observing its movement as it swims directly beneath it.
— Read on www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2021/sep/02/curious-southern-right-whale-nudges-paddleboarder-in-argentina-video

This short video is extraordinary. I have just been collecting the tiniest wild marjoram seeds to give to a friend and then I see this gigantic, intelligent mammal watching a human with obvious curiosity and I am star blown by the range of life on this beautiful planet!

Night of the Light Emeralds.

This morning the lawn was spangled with light emerald moths, caught in the grassy dew and just waiting for the climbing sun to dry them out.

The moth trap was also full of them and it seemed as if every blue wall was studded with them . Their colour fades until they can be as pale as paper, but the white line across the wings is always diagnostic.

September is a cross over month. The summer Jersey Tigers and Large yellow underwings are still here and the yellow shells are still flying, but the autumn pinions, snouts and marbled carpets are turning up too. Some caterpillars are eating voraciously, hoping to make cocoons that will over winter in the leaf litter to provide us with the moths and butterflies of next season. The more I find out about moths, the more I realise that so many species over winter on the ground in leaf litter and hedges, which makes me even more determined not to tidy up my garden completely, but to leave plenty of “scruffy “ overgrown places for the cocoons to survive.

We have to resist the urge to tidy, trim and blow if there is to be any wildlife left.

That said; I am struggling not to move this knotgrass caterpillar off my rhubarb plant. I want the moth and my rhubarb to survive!

The eternal dilemma of the green gardener!

Locked away

This time of year I collect seeds.

The whole plant is now locked away in the tiniest of seeds.

Sometimes they will germinate in Autumn rains and survive the winter, but most often the seed will just wait it out until the spring comes and conditions are right to explode into life.

Seeds are so tiny in comparison to the plant they may become. All that complex information for life is locked away safely in the dry seed and it’s survival is so improbable that it makes collecting the autumn seeds seem like the most important thing I can do . I know seed catalogs are full of technicolor promise for the spring, but these are seeds that I know will grow again. I collect nasturtiums, sweet William, dames violet, wall flowers and lettuce. Some things will just seed without needing to be collected like roucoula , columbine and marigolds. Some will need the lure of the seed catalogue like chard and pumpkin and fennel, but all will be an astounding testimony to what can grow out from the locked away life!

Race against time.

There was no summer this year.

If I had been Mary Shelley, sheltering from a similarly sodden season in Switzerland, I should have written “Frankenstein”, but I am not suitably talented or tormented and so I spent my time identifying moths and cutting back hedges.

Now that it is officially autumn the sun has finally come out and we can stop lighting fires and sit in the garden instead.

Migration has started. The wires are beaded with massing swallows and just occasionally the tropical burble of bee eaters can be caught as they head south . The village roads are full of motorbikes touring through the Jura before the cold penetrates their very expensive leather kits. Local farmers thunder by bringing in hay that has lain too long in the rainy fields and the wood from the forest is being brought in by every ancient tractor still working.

Everybody is sawing and stacking wood. The village may not grow grapes or make cheese, but it has plenty of trees and there is always wood for the winter.

My dahlias have only just started to flower and they are in a race with the frost . One or two flame coloured flowers are betting on the autumn being warm still. I am a pessimist by nature and prefer to place my bet on our wood stack!