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China Girl blog 21st September 2016

As a small black and white Pekingese of ancient lineage, I know that life is always full of pitfalls. I am told that you should not go down one path and dream of another, but play the hand that you are given. Dearest Mother says the sacred mysteries of life are all around us, and we should not spend time mourning our lot, but get on with what we have and make the best of it.

Autumn approaches and the dewy mornings are wet underfoot as we walk across the lawn. I can see our footprints in the wet grass, which has gown too long with all the rain, but we must remember that rain drops are the tears of angels.

This week has been much like last, in as much as Team Cothay always has too much to do. We have been joined by Thursday Rose, who is a horticulturist; we all look up to her and enjoy her one day a week help.

Mother and Sally are collecting and sowing ripe seeds from around the garden. It is far better, and of course cheaper, to collect your own seeds as in general, only 20% of seeds bought in packets from garden centres will germinate. We have put paper bags over some of the plants to catch the seeds before they ripen and explode, popping hither and thither.

Cuttings are still our main priority, especially the half-hardy perennials which are part of the great joy of the terracotta pots on the terrace.

The plant of the week is the unusual shrub Colquhounia coccinea; from the Himalayas, growing in North India through to Burma, Thailand and Yunnan, where it grows in scrub between 1200-3000 metres. The tubular flowers are a reddish-orange with soft grey-green leaves, an eye-catching shrub, reaching to three metres, hardy to -10oC and lovely for September and October.

We also love the yellow-flowered Kirengeshoma palmata from Japan, where it grows in woods. The butter-yellow nodding, bell-shaped flowers brighten a shady corner. This lovely autumn jewel is hardy to -20oC and is easy to propagate from seed and division.

Today is September 22nd, when the autumnal equinox occurs. This is the start of autumn, when the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length.

Dearest says it is still not cold enough to put the heating on. But she says we must not wait to long as we have to keep the old house from getting damp, and to keep winter visitors from shivering.

The ancient house is full of past memories, lovingly restored nearly a hundred years ago by Colonel Cooper; we carry on his great tradition. Dearest says there are in her life three pearls on a string, the house, the garden and me, her beloved Pekingese.

But oh, the Pekes are best!