The fascination of old houses lies in their ability to call up the past. Recently Dearest Ma came across a note written in 1914 when Harold Nicholson and Reggie Cooper, members of the country house set, were serving in the embassy in Istanbul. In the distant south, they dreamed of English manors of old stone, rich grey-green tapestries, candles and of English gardens. As I felt the evanescent presence of Reggie Cooper I thought about his work here at Cothay, for as the Buddhist saying goes, “All things arise and exit and expire.”
The Autumn Equinox last week brought a full moon and a frost. Not in thirty years can Ma remember such an early frost, which caught us unaware. We hastily spent the morning bringing in all the tender succulents to their winter shelter in the greenhouse, a job we usually do when we close at the end of September.
A task which for many years we have overlooked is the removal of ivy growing under the yew hedges. A fairly agonising job, which means getting into the hedge and pulling the reluctant ivy out; we only managed a small section.
Despite the frosts of this past week, much is still in flower; the many salvias, Michaelmas daisies and the charming half-hardy blue Felicia from South Africa. One year Ma brought it into the greenhouse, when it flowered non-stop for two years. The glorious vine which climbs the Gatehouse, which can grow to ninety feet, Vitus coignetiae, has begun to colour up and amazing sight. Introduced from Japan in 1875, the largest leaved hardy vine and one of the most beautiful, in its crimson and scarlet autumnal hues.
How lovely is the timeless charm of October days as they tumble on, as we begin to put the garden to bed.