Late summer musings
Elevate artist Hannah Lefeuvre lives off-grid in a small holding in Somerset. She loves to write a daily journal and finds great comfort in the handwritten word on the page. We hope you enjoy reading her reflections and observations, including some excerpts from her diary and maybe it will evoke thoughts of your own experiences of gardening and nature…
During late August and into September, as the nights are drawing in, the candles have come out of the drawer and we are starting to close our curtains in the evenings. I find it helpful at this time of year to celebrate the joys that nature bestows upon us, and upper most in my mind is the wonderful harvest to be picked and enjoyed. The changing seasons can be reminiscent for the senses and I savour the tastes, smells, textures, sounds and rich colours that each season brings.
As I make my way up the garden path, I am struck by a wonderful crop of autumn raspberries – an irresistible snack and one of my favourite berries, for their sweet flavour and long season.
Whilst the temperatures are dropping, the fruits will continue to delight us for many weeks, provided we can reach them before the wasps do! They’ve colonised the garden this year. Beside the raspberries is a relatively young plum tree bearing heavily laden branches, which have arched to anchor on the floor. We’ll keep a daily watch on these, alongside the pears, as both are prey to wind damage and wasps.
Further up the path, to my left, the large leafed squash plants have canopied four beds and anything in their way. They have travelled over the Jerusalem artichokes, over the seeding chard, lettuce and out onto the paths. I spot a few squashes under the gigantic leaves, but will await further surprises until after the first frost. We’re in no rush for you just yet, Jack Frost!
In the polytunnel, we’re celebrating an extraordinary crop of tomatoes this year and have tray-fulls stacked up in our food store, ready for Winter preserving. Images of the Bramley Hedge story books come to mind, with floor to ceiling shelves of preserves.
By the tomatoes, the lantern fruits (physalis) are a delight for those who enjoy the aesthetics. The morning fruit bowls and fruit platters are extraordinary at this time of year, with fig, apple, plum, blackberries, grape and Japanese wineberries. The latter are a less well-known berry, that grow easily in our forest garden. I can highly recommend the wineberry – particularly popular with younger taste buds.
Time to cut back some of the purple tree spinach in the poly tunnel – just enough to make room for us to travel up and down the paths easily. My urge to cut back any more will have to be saved for late autumn…
Wednesday 19 August
Strong winds and rain mean a day to catch up indoors with lots of baking. Windfall pears are baked with bay leaves. We notify a neighbour that a large tree has come down in their sheep field. Coal and gas delivery.
Thursday 20 August
Trays of tomatoes are chopped, mixed with fresh tarragon and coriander and preserved for the winter. The kitchen is an aromatic delight. We paddle in a nearby stream.
Friday 21 August
The seasonal garden cut back begins. Hedges are trimmed to let in more solar light, paths are cleared, weeds are pulled out by the arm full. The first ripe grapes have been spotted. We return to the stream for some dam building, before an evening of flower arranging. The house is brimming with colourful flowers and foliage from the garden.
Saturday 22 August
Bread making and a peak home fruit platter of physalis, blackberry, wineberry, fig, apple, plum, autumn raspberries and grapes. It is still possible to dine outside, though the wasps have other ideas. The squash plants are enjoying the wet weather and spreading across the rhubarb. The stream is still irresistible, if a little chilly.
Monday 24 August
Fruit and vegetable packages are delivered by bicycle to neighbours. Poly-tunnel doors closed, bracing for the storm. Plenty of rain and a bit of sunshine allows for a hot evening bath. Pans of bubbling water line the stove. Watching evening swallows through the skylight.
Tuesday 1st September
So many apples! Apples are picked, wrapped and stacked in trays in store. We will be picking, preserving and eating these for many months to come.
Thursday 3rd September
The purple sedum cutting is coming along. Sedum is wonderful in the salads and in cut flower arrangements. The wasps are spotted around the fruit patch and a few trays of pears are gathered as the light fades. More fruit to rescue tomorrow.
Sunday 6th September
A rare small overnight holiday before school begins. We find a wild flower area and enjoy our home produce whilst away.
I look back on my notes, I am struck by the ‘real time’ pace of growing home produce. The squash have now grown to the size of my forearm and a huge pumpkin has been spotted in amongst them. The veg hampers are becoming particularly elaborate and varied. The leeks are enormous, the pears are plentiful and there is a feeling of abundance and gratitude for the harvest.
As I sign off, I spot a squirrel with a nut in its mouth on the fence post. They left very few hazelnuts for us this year. Hopefully we can collect some walnuts later in the season.
More from Hannah and the Elevate artists
During the spring and summer 2020 Hannah Lefeuvre recorded 13 audio Garden Musings about the nature surrounding her and living off-grid. You can listen to all episodes of Hannah’s Garden Musings here
Send us your contribution
We love to include some of your own reflections in future posts and in our print edition ‘Elevate your mood’. Why not write a few lines, try a poem or send us picture on the general theme of September into autumn? Email to ArtCare or send to ArtCare, Block 29, Salisbury District Hospital, Salisbury SP2 8BJ.