September is one of my favourite months of the year.
It comes a very close second to May. May with all its thrusting promise, fresh growth dragged skyward by the ever lengthening days. Spring flowers in full bloom spangling the garden, a mad energy that grips you in its embrace.
September is a different thing altogether.
At its best it envelopes you in a warm, soft air. Blue skies and the lower sun casting long, liquid shadows. The colours are those of a last hurrah, nature saying ‘look at me’ before the decay sets in. September is full of memories of childhood. Back to school, new shoes, hair cut. Running across the bouncy common, up the lane with the enormous copper beech hedge, the leaves of the trees just starting to show the glimmer of a change from green to yellow.
As the flowers start to fade and the seed heads form it is tempting to start to tidy up. I feel it myself. But wait awhile. Here is a smörgasbord of nutrition for all sorts of wildlife. The falling leaves will feed your soil if you let them. Seeds of all kinds will feed garden birds. Annuals will self seed around the garden and pop up next year in exactly the right place I guarantee. Stay your hand until late winter or early spring before you do your tidy and everyone will benefit.
I can stare at a poppy seed head for hours. How remarkable the beautiful flower it was becomes this hard little lantern keeping the seeds safe until they are ripe to drop. The cascade of a thousand tiny pinpricks cascading through the perfect sieve as you turn it upside down.
The dead allium stalks, with the tracery of the flower’s former glory holding up the sprawly greenery around them.
In amongst this decay the Aster planted two years ago and now a veritable Goliath has just started to open it’s tiny flowers. If the weather stays kind it will create a spectacle of starry purple explosions until half term. September, the month that keeps on giving, the month that buoys you when you think the best of the year has gone. The month that reminds you that although it feels like the end of the year is coming it is really telling you that next year is just around the corner when you see forget-me-nots self seeded in summer hiding under bigger, flashier beauties and the primrose rosettes fattening up biding their time waiting for the spring.
September is not an end but a beginning. Stay your hand. Let nature do her thing.