Autumn to do list

Gardening & Other Preoccupations by Vandra Costello

Spare a thought for poor John Keats – how could he have foreseen, when writing his Ode to Autumn that his line, which he probably felt quite chuffed about when he came up with it, about it being the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness would become a tooth-aching cliché to be trotted out annually by lazy journalists and dullards the world over. This year I am seeing less mist and mellow fruitfulness and more sunshine (yay!) and disgraceful messiness. I don’t know what it is with me – every year I spend January in a state of frenzied anticipation and excitement, fussing over early hellebore and photographing every new bloom. Spring is my favourite time of year in the garden, a triumph of hope and expectation over years of bitter experience. By early summer I am still gung ho and thrilled by each new emergent crown and bud but…

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