26 September 2014


In my last blog post I rather gloomily predicted that summer was over and that the September heatwave some had predicted wouldn't appear. Well I was wrong, it did! For the first three weeks of September the Lake District has basked in warm dry weather and even on my annual fortnight in the Outer Hebrides we saw lots of sunshine and only half a day of rain.

The term 'Indian Summer' which I have bandied about in previous posts thinking it meant a warm and sunny September is actually much more specific than that. A true Indian Summer happens between the end of September and mid-November but only after the first damaging frost of Autumn which is known as a 'Squaw Winter' (but only if it's followed by an Indian Summer). Yes, the Indian bit doesn't refer to the sub-continent of India but to North American Indians and a little research discovers that nobody really knows why!
Anyhow, this week the papers were predicting more warm weather for the rest of September and well into October, I live in hope!

In the garden the warm weather has prolonged the season somewhat. The soapwort and pot marigolds I wrote about last month are still flowering happily and the runner beans are still cropping with no early frost to kill them off. It's been a bumper year for Autumn fruiting raspberries and even the tomatoes in my greenhouse at home have decided to ripen!

Autumn raspberries

I'd be lying if I said that the garden was full of flower at this time of year and, to be honest, like many of the Hill Top staff, it's looking just a little tired. But there are still flowers to be found. The Michaelmas Daisies, true to their name, are in full bloom and according to this old verse they should flower until the feast of St Simon and St Jude on October 28th. I don't think ours will last that long though.

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds, 
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.

Michaelmas Daisies

Also flowering at this time of year is Schizostylis coccinea, the Kaffir Lily or Crimson Flag Lily. It originates in South Africa but is quite hardy at Hill Top and carries on flowering until the first really hard frosts of winter. Unfortunately the flowers always seem to face south (perhaps they are pining for South Africa), and having planted them on the 'wrong' side of the path they face away from our visitors. I'll move some to the other side of the path this winter!


As well as flowers, the autumn colours are just beginning to show including the Crimson Glory Vine (Vitis cognetiae) which grows on the back wall of the Tower Bank Arms which borders Hill Top garden.

Crimson Glory Vine
It's a great thing for covering an ugly wall but beware, it grows up to twenty feet in a year and would completely engulf the pub if not pruned hard back to a framework of main branches every winter. Sadly ours never produces any grapes, but it more than makes up for it with a brilliant display of colour in late September and October.
There are other little gems to be seen in the garden such as these seed heads of Campanula latifolia which I deliberately didn't cut back after they had finished flowering to provide seeds for birds and just to look pretty.

Campanula seed heads

For my musical link this time I could have gone for 'Summer's Almost Gone' by The Doors (too depressing) or 'Indian Summer' by Stereophonics (too awful) but I've decided to go with this, sorry about the advert at the start but enjoy the dancing!

See you in the Autumn.

Words and pictures by Pete the Gardener