Potting and propagating houseplants is one of my favourite non-writing activities. I find great satisfaction in a row of cuttings in water gently putting out roots, or a new sprout freshly buried in dark, damp compost that clings to my fingertips as I work.
October has flown by, and wasn’t it beautiful? Every day was another of those clear, bright, autumnal days that so often get obscured by low clouds, heavy with rain. All over our patch of Surrey the trees have put on a firework display with their changing leaves, vibrant splashes of green, yellow, orange, gold, and finally astonishing shades of red. The garden has been slowly giving up its final yields of plums, then apples, and finally a beautiful giant pumpkin, just in time for Hallowe’en. Those bright, sharp days, and dark, moody evenings where we huddle in doors and tell scary stories are everything about this time of year. This is a time of fire, and spirits; ancient, powerful, and hugely evocative.
When I was about ten I planted one row of radishes and one row of lettuces in a corner of my parents’ garden. Slugs destroyed the lettuces in that single-minded way that slugs do, but the radishes flourished and even managed to taste quite respectable.
Those radishes were playing on my mind over the weekend as I shouldered my fork and trowel to start some spring planting. Up until this point, I wouldn’t call myself a gardener, save for the carnivorous plants I tended lovingly on my London windowsill. But our new garden in Surrey comes with a garden. A rather beautiful garden, lovingly laid out and planted. Over the past few months we’ve watched in awe as the borders spring to life, first green foliage, then white snowdrops, yellow daffodils, golden primroses, bluebells, delicate forget-me-nots and best of all, big scarlet tulips all blooming from the soil.