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China Girl blog 27th November 2019

With lovely mild October gone, the magic carpet which leads to Cothay is strewn with leaves from last night’s autumn gale. The garden is also covered with branches and wet leaves. Mother says what is more therapeutic and satisfying than bringing order to disorder?

Mother often says that plantsmanship is very important at the back end of the year. It is an appreciation of plants for their own sake, for their form, elegance and leaf rather than the size and brightness of their flowers. It is the aesthetic nature of plants which is important. The tall, elegant Acanthus mollis, with its large glossy dark green leaves is one such example; definitely a queen amongst plants, it will grow anywhere in sun, shade, damp or dry conditions. Only a hard frost will be its downfall and then perhaps, only for a few days, when it will lift its lovely leaves again. Tucked in amongst the prostrate rosemary in a sheltered, south-facing position, the small shrub Correa schlectenda from South Australia flowers for five months throughout the winter from November until the early spring, hardy to -5oC.

This week, poor Ma had tennis elbow. We googled it, the information said it could last for two years, how depressing. She put a special elbow support on and takes lots of ibuprofen and applies a hot bean bag; poor Ma finds it virtually impossible to use her right hand. Lo and behold after only one week, a miracle -she feels much better, but doesn’t feel she will be able to rake all the falling leaves; anyway she hate raking!

The light leaves the garden early at this time of year, the atmosphere ghostly in the waning autumn light. Such unorganised weather, it never stops raining! The reflection pool is the colour of chocolate pudding, the water washed down from the fields and valleys in the hills. The river so full, and as it has done for a thousand years, it hurries on its way to the sea. The air is heavy with memories and raindrops.