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September 2011

Dear garden friends, the months just roll by and life continues on its merry way. I'm now going to open the door and take a last round in the garden for today, 12 September 2011. Now, in September, there’s a clear feeling that summer has passed, but there is also so much to prepare and so many things to do. My beloved bulbs, which we import directly from Holland, should be arriving tomorrow. So I’ve got several weeks of planting ahead of me. I’d like to begin this chronicle by thanking all the wonderful people I've met during the past season, be it through the open gardens we've held for the benefit of the charity Hela Människan, or all the private groups that have visited us. You're all most welcome. It’s so pleasant to meet people – and by sharing experiences, mistakes, etc., we can learn so much from each other.

During the past few days I've been very busy picking mushrooms in the forest. While I like to use as much as possible from nature's larder, as far as mushrooms are concerned I stick to porcini, chanterelle and funnel chanterelle, since my knowledge of mushrooms is rather limited. At home, harvesting from the garden is practically completed. We’re still picking apples and pears and a few (rather sour!) grapes, while we've already frozen in lots of gooseberries and blackberries. In the front garden, a wonderful vine, Vitis coignetiae, is climbing over the arch at the top of the path up from the front gate. The wonderful heart-shaped green leaves of summer are now gradually turning to fantastic rust red colour. The common English name, Crimson Glory, says it all. The leaves are gradually changing colour, and all the while heavy bunches of grapes are hanging down from the vine. The grapes in themselves aren't so good to eat, but the leaves can be used in cooking, e.g. for making stuffed vine leaves.

Thus far, there isn't that much autumn colour in the garden – with the exception of the Autumn Joy stonecrop (Sedum Herbstfreude), which proudly borders the path at the front, but the autumn bulbs will soon be here and I have to begin planning. I've been around the garden, taken out my sketches and am ready – and that's just as well, since time goes so quickly. It is in fact possible to plant bulbs throughout the autumn, as long as the ground is frost-free, and even if there’s a bit of frost in the ground, it still possible to plant tulips, etc.; but the small bulbs have to go down the ground first. So if you're thinking of buying bulbs – go out and do so now, because it's time to get planting!

Some parts of the garden look a bit like a jungle – I really could do with cutting some things. People sometimes comment “just look there, things are just hanging” – all right, it looks like a jungle, but it's MY jungle. Autumn is approaching – and there's a slight sense of melancholy. It's not such fun to think about the coming months; here in Sweden, we know what lies ahead. But I’ll attempt to put those thoughts out of my mind and concentrate on bulb planting.

At the moment, there are clumps of light purple autumn crocuses scattered around the garden, while the Summer Snow clematis continues to bloom, as it has been doing continuously since Midsummer. Amazing! And so beautiful. And then there's my small jungle of pots by the grill area – agapanthus, bay trees and the olive tree – they can stay out for at least another month.

There so much to think about – pruning trees, cutting hedges, planting – that one is never short of things to do in the garden. You, beloved gardening folk, know exactly what I'm talking about. A garden is a living thing and there’s always something to do. What would life be without its green aspect? While you don't have to have a garden, I do believe that most people need to spend some time out in nature, to feel the forces of mother nature (and father nature, too).

But, as I’ve already said, summer is as good as gone and, on 18 September, the garden will be open for the last time this season. I hope that we can meet during the next garden season and in the coming year. As my mother used to say, “Time will tell” (or, to translate the Swedish literally, “those who live, will see”), and a garden is part of life.

So cheerio! Have a great autumn.

Stefan, A gentleman Gardener