Sunday, October 23, 2022

Late October; Journal

A month thus far of mostly beautiful weather--we have paid for clear blue skies and sunny days with drought conditions.
Looking at the notes jotted on my September calendar and into this last full week of October I can verify that rainfall has been limited to evening showers on the 12th and the 16th. This continues the pattern established in September. Friends who have been lifetime residents of the area declare they don't recall an autumn as dry.

On Sunday, 16th October, skies were overcast and leaves blew down in swirls.
I stood outside in the wind, hearing the faint rustle as leaves skittered across the ground, transfixed as I followed the descending spiral of individual leaves, gently brushing away those that caught on my shirt or in my hair. 
There was a sighing restlessness in the air, a cold tang in the wind.
We hoped for drenching rain, but the early evening showers were brief and gentle. 
Jim started a woodfire to dispel the darkness and the hint of chill that had seeped into the house.

A month or more ago I gave a rough pruning to the red valerian that spills over the west garden wall. 
These blooms are my reward for that minimal attention.

Only a few stems of foxglove have rebloomed, but I can see where many tiny seedlings have popped through the mulch from the spring blossoming that was allowed to set seed.
In late winter I will pot up the sturdiest of the new plants.

I settled to sewing downstairs on that cloudy Sunday afternoon. I have two machines set up and was seated at the one placed between the two south-facing windows. I glanced up as a scuffle of leaves blew past the window and noticed that clematis Samaritan Jo had produced a blossom.

Trudging out into the dusky evening I discovered a slightly distorted flower on Duchess of Edinburgh.
The lack of moisture during the past eight weeks has deprived us of the usual autumn blooms.

In the vegetable garden cabbage has slowly formed heads and the broccoli is behind schedule.
J. has begun watering in hopes of encouraging this last harvest.

Light frost nipped the last of the zinnias and bleached the leaves on potted nasturtiums. 
Rosemarys that summered on the screened porch have been trimmed and brought inside, some lodged on the long table in the sunroom, others put on the downstairs shelf under a grow light. 

Amaryllis bulbs plonked together in a large shallow pot spent the summer beneath one of the benches in the greenhouse.  They have been separated, roots and foliage trimmed, and laid on a tray in the laundry room. I've not been successful in coaxing them to rebloom in midwinter--but I persist in trying.

This may have been the last gathering of David Austin roses; a clutch from the sprawling Roald Dahl and a lone bud of The Poet's Wife. 
I'm still hoping for enough moisture to work in the back garden before heavy frost, but time is ebbing away.

Nigella springs up sturdily, many generations since the first seed-grown plants.

Sunrise on this Sunday morning, 23 October; a warm dry day and 79 F at suppertime.
Predictably the Asian invasion--of beetles--is in exasperating full swing. The nasty things throng around windows and doors, can squeeze through the tiniest cracks to gather in clumps in the ceiling corners, to march up and down window panes. The vacuum cleaner has resided under the west window in my bedroom for the past 24 hours; each time I go in I turn it on to hoover up the latest invaders. 

Unpegging laundry from the back porch lines I was pummeled with beetles. They pinged against my face, dove into the collar of my shirt, caught in my long hair. At the slightest touch they exude a lingering acrid odor.
They will diminish as colder weather comes, but are rejuvenated by a sunny day when they will again swarm against windowpanes. 
J. attempts to deter them by spraying various concoctions on the window screens; this mostly doesn't discourage the beetles more than momentarily and leaves sticky streaks on the glass panes.
I fear they must be endured.

Last blooms of the season.
Raydon's Purple--a late-blooming Michaelmas daisy--now fading into a dusty purple sprawl.



  1. Those Asian beetles sound awful. I hope they don't last long. Your temps are much warmer than ours. We are due 57 deg. here today. With rain.

    I have an Autumn clematis in bloom - a pretty lilac/blue whose name eludes me. The name tag got lost but it was a cheap seedling from Morrisons supermarket. I have huge Pot Marigolds finally blooming and Yellow Coneflowers, and 2nd bloomings on stuff that didn't do too well in the draught of summer. Two pots of Violas are flowering their socks off, bless them.

    Enjoy your sewing - I am currently embroidering the linen tote bag Ibought at the Quilt Fair.

  2. Late autumn blooms are so precious! I'm going to try again for yellow coneflowers--I know I had planted seeds two years ago and that must have been the tray that was lost during the time I was housebound with DVT. I've given up hope that the coneflower 'Twister' will flourish. Only a few seedlings and when planted out they immediately went feeble. Calendula/pot marigold has never done well for me from seed, so now each spring I buy a few from the nursery. Container plants flop here in the high heat and humidity of July and early August, but most years have a revival in the fall.