The International Steam Pages


The Best Garden in Mitcheldean? (October 2015)
The Fat Lady Sings

This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2015. Click here for the index.

It's nearly all over, you can't fight the shorter days although it does mean we've a better chance to be up to catch one of our spectacular pre-dawn skies.

Up in the hills, we do better than lower down by the Severn whose mists climb up to us as the air warms:

Next door has cut her grass twice this year, it shows of course but think of the money she has saved. It must be depressing to effectively live in the middle of a hayfield. The shadow from the last of her three ghastly Leylandii trees stretches right across the garden, there's no point in showing what it looks like but you wouldn't be taking this picture in a couple of hours time. The Acer is putting on its annual show, in the absence of frost and wind, it's lasted much longer than usual, behind there is still plenty of colour.

Down by the road, the sloping path to the garage had become an eyesore as the wood had rotted and it was collapsing. Dave and son Josh were recruited to erect a replacement. The phrase 'over the top' quite accurately describes the retaining wall. The idea is to generate another flowerbed opportunity, since Yuehong has run out of space elsewhere. Having seen what went into backfilling, I spent an afternoon fishing out the larger rocks and stones and dug in some compost. Every autumn leaf I can lay my hands on will follow, it's a trick I've been using on the vegetable patch for several years and I hope it works here too. Of course, it didn't look naked like that for long:

We're not yet into garden 'furniture' but there are two metallic objects poking out above the wall. These are Great Western Railway boundary posts dated 1883, recovered from a long closed branch line in the Forest of Dean. The upright part is made of Brunel 'bridge rail' used on his broad gauge lines. They are more than a metre long and have a cross piece at the bottom so are not easy to remove at all. They are also very heavy! The nearest railway to Mitcheldean would have been the Grange Court - Ross-on-Wye section which ran through Longhope and Lea. In the best GWR traditions, Mitcheldean Road station was actually in the small village of Lea across the border in Herefordshire.

It's getting to the time when the garden has to be put into hibernation, two of the tubs are empty, and the begonias and gernaniums need moving to the greenhouse, the annuals will perish with the first serious frost.

Yuehong has been off to Beijing on family business and the flight timings were such that it made sense for me to hire a car and drive her up. It was as well that I got upgraded as the first trip to B&Q was needed to replenish her stock of compost for next year's growing season. And on the way back from the airport, I was ordered to buy as many of this year's bargain standard roses as I could get in the car. Last year eight came in stages on the bus, this year it was seven all in one go. I scratched my head as to where to plant them, fortunately three of them were of the shorter variety, they are to the right of centre and will not spoil the view from the seat.

We have most of the UK's classic garden birds, offering a mixed environment which keeps a goodly collection happy and our next door neighbour offers them the easy option. This is one bird we don't see in the garden, but sitting on a fence post in the sheep field behind. It's a juvenile Common Buzzard as far as I can tell:

And now the clocks are going back, instead of the sun setting behind us at 18.00 it will be 17.00 and soon the leaves on the trees opposite will be gone:


Click here for the next installment.


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

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