This autumn has been so mild, I still have geraniums in flower, salad leaves in the greenhouse, the odd rose determined to bloom and the occasional raspberry to pick.
But last week we had our first overnight frost and that always feels like the beginning of winter.
The dahlias were blackened, their starry bursts of colour and peppery scent reduced to a memory. The sunflowers suffered shipwreck, although I won’t be cutting them down just yet. They’re still popular with the birds who twizzle round the broken masts pecking every last kernel from their stripy casings.
This weekend it was considerably warmer. Damp hung in the air neither falling nor ceasing, merely shifting the world quite beautifully out of focus. So I put on my boots.
I cut down the dahlias and gave them a good mulch. I squelched up to the veg garden. I put wood ash round the shallots and garlic, picked celery and pulled carrots and rescued some very overgrown beetroot... which would surely still be fine for chutney?
In its favour the frost has eradicated the caterpillars from my brassicas. Like a gruesome game of pass-the-parcel I was beginning to tire of preparing cabbage only to find ugly forfeits tucked into the outer leaves.
I’d also had my eye on some rose hips for weeks. There are still plenty in the hedgerows, enough for me and the local wildlife I concluded.
So after an hour with my secateurs I’m all set to make my secret ingredient... and to contemplate those burly beetroot!