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The leaves are starting to fall at the summerhouse

·2 min read

I light a small fire every morning, to ward off the early chill. Winter is coming to the Danish summerhouse. Or this week’s autumn equinox at least.

There are more leaves lying on the grass every day now, the cherry dropping first and fast. I used to save our ornamental Japanese cherry tree leaves as a child. Fascinated by the lime, lemon, copper and iron rust tones as they changed.

I used to save our Japanese cherry tree leaves as a child, fascinated by the lime, lemon, copper and iron rust tones

I was hoping for leaf skeletons to press in an exercise book. Exquisite, almost mathematical, like fractals. Perfection found in the grass.

We likely won’t be here for the big oak drop – two sister trees in one. There will be barrowloads dumped on the plot, clogging the guttering, smothering the grass. I am hoping my brother-in-law might be persuaded to rake them – in exchange for a bottle of Islay whisky, maybe a graphic novel or two.

And we might return before long. We will make leafmould mounds at the back to help enrich the sandy, seaside soil.

The mosquito war is over. Just an occasional veteran left to continue a guerrilla campaign. The caterpillars have gone, too, leaving the straggling calendula and nasturtium alone. I wish I was more sanguine about the invasions. I struggle.

Autumn gardening is mostly about tidying here. The tug of war with the resident bramble. Waiting for the newly naked trees to show where intervention might be needed. Where to trim hazel, say, in midwinter. Whether to coppice or, as always, leave alone.

The closing-in will open up. Our summer isolation will end.

Our neighbours will mostly stay away now until Christmas. We have had rare glimpses of the small weekly changes here by the sea.

Before we leave we will strew the barer trees with feeders. Keep an eye out for finches and red squirrels.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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