For me September always seems to be the end and the start of something. I think it stems from childhood. September – end of holidays, starting a new year at school. New haircuts, new school clothes. Saying goodbye to holiday freedoms, later bedtimes, flexible mealtimes. The end of warm, languorous days and evenings, the start of a nip in the air and an extra layer.
The summer has been one of Island hopping, progressively getting smaller and more remote. Experiencing nature in its raw state. Seeing majestic White-tailed Sea Eagles and Storm Petrel chicks. Landscapes that change with the prevailing weather. Cliffs in sharp relief and hillsides bruised with purple heather.
It has made me think about this world we inhabit, that we borrow for a short time, to be handed on to the next generation. It has also made me think about what we are handing on. Even while I have been surrounded by incredible beauty I have not been immune to the news stories of ravaging wildfires in the Amazon, floods in India, heatwaves and droughts and have found myself falling into a slough of despond.
I envy people who can live believing everything will be alright for future generations. That this is a blip or the natural way of things. That we can keep living the way we have for the last 50 years. That someone will come along with a magic bullet that will make it all alright. That how we live is not contributing to the problems.
I have been mulling over my own part in this and how garden design can sit within the constraints of not doing more harm than good. On return from the various Island trips the garden has looked lovely. The slowly changing tapestry of flowers have been awash with insects, and birds have been flitting from trees to shrubs to bird feeders. Since adding a tiny pond both a newt and a frog have been seen. There are areas of untidiness where invertebrates forage.
There has been a lot of comment recently about what a wildlife garden should consist of. I have just been reminded that there is no difference in the amount of insects in a garden between native or non-native plants. What matters is the amount and variety of vegetation. Plants are better than hard landscaping.
If we are going down, I am going to go down fighting.
I am going to plant up gardens with lots and lots of plants. There will be areas that are less tidy and water for amphibians. I will help those that want to turn their gardens into wildlife oases.
So as the weather subtly changes and the summer ends I am starting to feel more positive about new beginnings.