I can measure the turning of the year by the shadows in my garden.
If I sit on the terrace looking west I can see the weather moving over Streatham Vale up over the Hill towards me. The Sun comes from the other direction appearing over the house behind me and, depending on the time of year, tracks round low over the fence on the southern edge of the garden in winter or directly overhead in high summer. In the late afternoon and evening the sun shines on the terrace I am sitting on.
At this Lovely time of year, the soft light of early October casts long, languorous shadows across the garden.
My shade-loving, north-facing border is becoming shady again as the sun drops closer to the horizon on its way west and the fence, hidden behind the last gasps of the Thalictrum and Persicaria, starts to cast a deeper shade over the border. Since creating the new, larger borders last year that stretch further into the centre of the garden, the north-facing border now benefits from more sun for longer at it’s peak depth. But still the shadows creep.
In deep winter the garden is lucky to get a sliver of sunshine on the fence of the south-facing border. In very cold weather the sun warms the frost on the fence top and steam creates an ephemeral haze. In a corner of the terrace nearest to the house it is possible to sit out and catch those weak rays and dream of warmer weather to come.
As spring heralds those hardy little bulbs and tenacious early spring herbaceous plants blasting out their heady perfume, slowly, very slowly, the fence shadow starts to creep back across the garden south. Plants, hidden by the lower light, are revealed and as the ground is warmed by the spring sunshine the garden responds. Shoots start to emerge and the cycle of life starts all over again.
By mid-summer the garden is bathed in sunshine from south to north. The shadows creeping from the shed to the terrace. The morning sun caressing the swing chair earlier and earlier and as the day wears on washing up the garden as if a switch has been flicked, a searchlight revealing every nook and cranny.
If the weather from the west is flecked with clouds, the evening sky can put on a biblical display. Coral, pink, crimson, gold washes the huge sky beyond the garden. The setting sun leaves the garden in the gloaming, the shadows deep and enveloping. Tomorrow the fence shadow will creep a little further north which tells me the year is marching on. Soon the clocks will go back and winter will be with us once more.