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China Girl blog 19th September 2018

No star fades faster than summer, as slowly the early autumn days drift endlessly by. All of a sudden the swallows, like a whisper, are no longer here; and so it is with passing time.

We went to the autumn Antiques Fair at Shepton Mallet, one of Ma’s favourite haunts. Ma loves wheeling and dealing, although she is not the best at bargaining. This time she swapped an 18th century rocking chair for an early 1700s King Charles I joint stool – I am not sure where it will go, but it is small enough to tuck in somewhere. Ma also bought a brooch, which she plans to turn into a clasp for a pearl necklace.

Saturday was Toby Musgrave’s Garden Bonanza at Forde Abbey. Where we will put all the plants she bought I cannot imagine, especially a giant dandelion which will grow, we are assured, to three feet and comes from Madagascar; Ma can never resist anything unusual. We also listened to a talk on planting meadows.

On Saturday, David and Ma spent the day trimming the Yew Walk. Ma drove the tractor, pulling the trailer on which stood David, cutting the hedge as Ma drove along. Ma had the easy part!  In past years, we have sold the yew clippings which are turned into a drug for cancer. Sadly, they no longer collect in Somerset, so we have to burn the clippings. This must be done far away from the sheep in the fields, as the smallest amount can poison them; this is what happened two years ago, and six of them died. Many years ago, Ma’s eldest daughter ate some yew berries and had to have her stomach pumped out. It is the pips inside the berries which are poisonous.

All over the garden are Erigeron karvinskianus, the name given by Theophrastus to a composite. This enchanting Mexican daisy, spread by the wind grows wherever it lands. We find the easiest way to propagate them is to place a pot with compost beside them; the seeds drop in and they can be pricked out when large enough to handle. No garden should be without this long-flowering, enchanting small daisy.

Everything that matters takes time; in the case of a garden, a life time. Each year as the season draws to a close, we all hope that the year has been better than the year before, and that next year will be even better.