Six on Samhain

It’s time to roast chestnuts on the fire, the darkest season has begun.

This has been a ‘mast’ year, with trees producing many more nuts than usual. I’ve collected acorns, conkers and sweet chestnuts during autumnal walks around Somerset and Wiltshire in recent weeks.

Horse chestnuts, aka conkers (left) are not edible. Sweet chestnuts, (right), are a tasty treat.

Though conkers are not good to eat, they do make great forest school decorations. Sweet chestnuts, which come in a much spiker husk and have pointy ends, are delicious once roasted.

The archway at Shared Earth Learning is decorated with conkers

Lately I’ve been super busy working at Vastern Timber and volunteering with Shared Earth Learning. And I haven’t made time for a six on Saturday for ages, but it seems that now’s the time. Must be the season of the witch.

So without much more rambling here are six things in the garden, this Saturday…

  1. Autumn colour: The leaf colour is stunning. The borrowed copper beech, which seems to be at the bottom of our garden but is actually our neighbour’s tree, is just clinging on to its lower leaves, and the way the rain and wind are today, I think those last few leaves will be on the ground very soon. The honeysuckle is still blooming, somehow, and the grasses look great at this time of year.

2. Twisted Hazel: This is a fabulous tree, that for much of this summer was partly obscured by a huge blooming buddliea, that’s now chopped back. I didn’t like how the butterfly bush made this spot look a bit like a railway siding, but I did appreciate the butterflies. The hazel is a beauty and I want to see more of it next year.

3. Verbena bonariensis: A beautiful, delicate looking flower that I’d like to put in place of the buddliea next year – If I can dig it out, somehow…. These pretty purple flowers are often covered in butterflies, but don’t remind me of train platforms and the scent of pee.

4. Fig flowers? This plant, which I think is a fig, is putting out some spectacular, large white flowers. I have never noticed these before, and think they’re pretty cool, whatever they are!

5. I LOOOVE Nasturtiums. Each spring I plant handfuls of seeds, each autumn they go crazy and take over their space, and each year I’m somehow surprised by this. And delighted. I’ve collected seeds from this years batch, and can’t wait to go over this whole wonderful rigmarole all over again next year.

6. The new border: This photo does not do it justice, but it was really starting to rain this morning when I took this snap. The colours are gorgeous, and this section is our most densely planted of the garden, featuing heuchera, hebe, sedums and a few roses. The asters in this spot are still in bloom and earlier this week I saw a Brimstone butterfly flitting about in this area.

So that’s my six for Samhain. See more garden collections from gardens around the world at The Propagators blog, or all over social media.

The time between Samhain and Yule is traditionally seen as a tricky season to contend with. Until midwinter, when the days start to get longer, the Sun King must wander the underworld, sorting his sh!t out, preparing for rebirth at yule.

There’s a full moon tonight, which seems portentous, if you’re open to the idea that the moon affects people’s moods. I feel that the sun and moon affect my mood, and I certainly go a bit mad(der) when the clocks go back.

But maybe with all that’s going on, I’d be losing the plot slightly whether the moon was full, new, waxing or waning or made of green cheese, and the days were 14 hours long and full of sunshine.

Still, eventually the midwinter solstice will come around, and the days will get longer, and things might start looking up. Meanwhile, stay cosy and take care…

Happy Samhain everyone! May the winter months be met with warmth from the hearth, love from your kin and a bountiful harvest.

J x

PS To honour this ancient festival, I’ll be watching Strictly Come Dancing later, with a glass or two of wine, hoping to see Bill Bailey do the Monster Mash.

4 thoughts on “Six on Samhain

  1. Roasted chestnuts! Delicious. It isn’t something that happens here, but I remember well buying them when I used to work in London many decades ago. When the weather warms, that new border is going to spring into action and look splendid.


  2. Hi Tony, nice to hear from you, hope all is ok round your way. I doubt if Somerset has native yukka, I would guess not. Last year it put out spikes of white flowers, will try to find a picture…


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