The Cottage Smallholder

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Flowers from the garden: October 2009


Photo: Forsythia leaves in autumn

Photo: Forsythia leaves in autumn

The leaves on the forsythia in the front garden are gradually turning from green to yellow and deep red. I don’t think I’d have noticed if I hadn’t been giving the hedge a very gentle trim. As it flowers on last season’s wood a short back and sides would mean no pretty yellow flowers in the Spring. In the past this was a ‘John job’ so I noticed if the shrub looked shaggy and that was it. Since John retired I’ve become much more deeply acquainted with our hedges and lawns.

Danny and I were working together – clearing an area for D to build a new wood store beside the barn. The blackberries are still flowering but the berries had a thin, bitter taste as it’s way after October 11. We hauled the Bosch shredder
through the cottage and it reduced a huge pile of brambles to a couple of bags of shredded nuggets which the council will collect to compost tomorrow. I bought this rather swanky gadget ages ago for John to use as an alternative to his bonfires when the neighbours got very narky about his three day bonfires putting smuts on their washing. He was always suspicious of the shredder – referring to it as “That Machine”. And used to suggest that we could use it for shredding stuff together. In the end he never ever used it. Preferring to light an occasional surreptitious bonfire when I had chugged off to work in Jalopy  and was safely out of the way. This used to enrage me but in a way I admired his independent streak. I still miss John enormously – he was strong minded, steady as steel and a real character.  I’d known him for nearly fifty years as he worked for my Aunt Pickles and came to me after she’d died. Apart from my family he and I had a the longest history of anyone that I’ve known.

As I was feeding the forsythia sprigs through the shredder I noticed how attractive they were and kept a few back. These are our flowers for October. I can guarantee that you can’t buy anything as pretty.

  Leave a reply


  1. We only had three chickens and used to use a lot of sawdust to keep everything fresh and that was enough to heat up a huge pile of compost

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate(UK)

    I rather like the colour of the forsythia flowers – but I can see the combination of the blue grey house and the chrome yellow hedge would be a bit of a show stopper!

    Hi Joanna

    Our chickens don’t produce a lot of poo but I must review all our composting. Up until now it was a ‘John job’ whilst I composted kitchen waste and chicken poo. So thanks for your help.

  3. yes that chicken poo rots just about everything. Actually it would even heat your greenhouse if you could stand the smell, our compost heap used to get up to 70 degrees

  4. kate (uk)

    The purple leaves are what makes me forgive my forsythia every year- I know the yellow flowers are showy, but it is a shade of yellow that I really dislike. There’s a house round the corner that has a HUGE forsythia hedge that is solid yellow in spring, it rises behind a fence painted a rather vile blue grey. The effect is, well, breath taking. As in sharp intake…especially combined with the very pink cherry tree nearby.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    Yes. I reckoned that they’d take years to break down but you got me thinking – if I put them under some heavy plastic with some chicken poo they would break down much more quickly.

    Thanks so much for the tip.

  6. You mean you are giving your shreddings away? Your not keeping them for your own compost heap? After all you have chicken manure which reduces everything due to the heat you get out of it.

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