I have spent six months in this tiny patch, tending and watering; pruning, chopping, trimming and feeding; eating, dozing and even partying. Now leaves are falling, and the light is fading. I suspect there are only a few more weeks before I have to give it up for another year.
Shortly the sun will be too weak and its daily presence too brief to battle the soaking effect of the autumn rain. The lawn will soften and become mud, and water will pool in the beds amongst woody stems.
But for now, at least, there is colour! I turn my back for a second and the garden is empowered. It rejects the austerity I have imposed all year and in a final celebratory burst does what it has been waiting to do for months. It turns whites to deep pinks, and greens to orange, yellow, magenta and red. I do realise that there is something a little perverse about someone who deliberately avoids colour all year, only to embrace it enthusiastically at the point it’s all over, but there is something beautiful and wholly appropriate about these colours. Deprived of sun and diffused by the October mist, they are gentle and warming. They seep through the grey light with stealth, and seem to take the chill out of the air.