Mud, mud, glorious mud…!

The weather has been pleasantly warm for most of November so far; the central heating has not been switched on and the fire we light in the evenings is more for the pleasure of looking at it than the heat that it produces.  September, October and early November has been perfect for the garden, the warm sunshine plus a good amount of rain.  There have been very sunny days and very rainy days so easy to decide what to do and to be able to enjoy the good days and be grateful for the rain when it comes.

Rain was forecast for last Sunday so I thought it would be perfect to have a lunch party for my gardening friends as none of us would want to be outside!  Often when I make plans like this, things go awry; the sun shines hotly down making everyone wish they were working in the garden rather than eating!  Last Sunday the forecast proved only too accurate!  It began raining during the night and continued heavily for most of the morning; about an hour before our guests were due to arrive we thought it might be a good idea to check the state of the lane to the house.  Last year when there was torrential rain the lane was covered by about 30 cm of topsoil from the neighbouring field.

So had the farmer learnt from last year’s disaster?  Had he decided to plough and plant seed early so that the precious topsoil wouldn’t be washed away?  NO! HE HADN’T!

So with only a short time before four cars would be arriving we found the lane in front of our gates with a thick layer of MUD and worse still the ditch into which our grey water drains completely filled with mud for a distance of about 100 metres.

This should be a ditch about a metre and a half deep, now almost level with the lane, the block of stone was washed here from about 50 metres away

Top soil filled ditch, it is full for at least 100 metres

Water rushed along this old stream bed carrying top soil, stones and boulders. The power of the water means the stream bed is now just tuffo rock.

Here you can see the path of an old stream and how the soil has been washed from the field


But I’m not complaining (well not much anyway).  People lost their lives due to the torrential rain; a car disappeared into a chasm created when a bridge collapsed; the three occupants of the car died of asphyxiation deep within the mud in Tuscany (not so very far north of us).  People have lost their homes and everything in them; it is not so common here as in the UK to have home insurance so this is truly a disaster.

The main north/south motorway was closed in places because it was under water (this is like saying the M1 is closed) and the train station at Orte with the fast line to Rome had the roads all around it closed because they were under water

We were extremely lucky, the shepherd came with his tractor and flattened out the mud and our guests were able to drive through with no problems, thank you Amadeo!

Water is such a powerful element, Global climate change means that many places in countries all over the world will suffer severe flooding on a regular basis.  We must all try to encourage our governments to reduce the causes of global climate change rather than them begging for help to deal with its results.

GBBD October 2011

I am late with my account of what is flowering in my garden on the 15th October.  We have had such strong winds for the last 5 days it has been almost impossible to take any photos at all.  I waited until today hoping that the wind would drop and it has slightly but I’m afraid not all my blooms are here – many of the photos were just too out of focus to be shared.

With the cooler days there are more pale flowers on Rosa Mutabilis

Thank you Carol at May Dreams garden for hosting this meme; visit her to see blooms from around the world.

Since GBBD in September we have had some very strange weather here in Lazio.  On the night of 18th September we had thunder and lightning, sheet and fork , that lasted for most of the night; there wasn’t any rain for hours of the storm but in a two hour period we did have 30 cm of rain fall; yes! That’s not a mistake a foot of water in 2 hours! And then it continued to rain so that in all we must have had 40cm in one night.  It is said that London and Rome both have the same amount of rain in a year but in London it probably rains 280 days where as in Rome it all falls in less than 100 days.  So that when it does rain – it literally floods down!

In the lower part of the garden we have what was 2 thousand years ago an Etruscan tomb, converted and used as a stable for animals from who knows when until about 25 years ago – we use it as a store; it’s not very useful as it is so damp that wine bottles stored there lose their labels within a month – so we have had to find somewhere else to store our wine.  There is a step down into the store so that when it rained and washed most of the topsoil from the surrounding fields over the lane that is the only access to our house, water and mud flooded into the store leaving the mud and showing the depth of water and mud to have reached 60cm – I am only grateful that the garden wasn’t flooded or indeed washed away.

Datura continue to fill the evening air with its wonderful perfume

Even the soil on the steep slope that I have been featuring in ‘The end of month view’ was held in place by the planting of stipa tenuissima and other plants; proving that bare soil is always a bad idea that leads to erosion.

Mud filled the ditch that takes our downpipe water had to be dug out; it also covered the area I’d been preparing to plant some trees, the weeds had been removed but the fields had just been reseeded with grass so now I have a beautiful crop of grass!

The rain was followed by beautiful days with sunshine and temperatures returning to those that we expect in August.  We have enjoyed some days at the beach; the hot weather continued until the beginning of this week when the wind turned and blew from the north bringing cold air, so much so that the bed has gone from having just a linen sheet to a nice warm duvet which has been snuggled under in a 10 day period.

The autumn work I wanted to do in the garden will have to be compressed into a couple of weeks – September the temperatures were too high to transplant anything other than tough Iris and Hermerocallis, and this week it has been so windy it was almost impossible to stand……

Miscanthus 'Morning Light' blowing in the wind earlier in the week

I’d be interested to know what you think the first flower is in the slideshow – I sprinkled several, very old packs of seeds by the side of the drive, I think this is from these but I don’t regognise what it is.

The rain combined with the hot sun means that most of the plants blooming in September are still blooming now with the addition of Asters which hadn’t really started last month.

If you click on the image below you can see some of what is blooming in My Hesperides Garden this mid October.

pathway by the back border

Don’t forget to join in GBFD (Garden Bloggers Foliage day) next Saturday the 22nd October.  I hope you’ll have some lovely autumn colour to share or of course, maybe it is spring where you are in which case you can cheer us northern hemisphere gardeners with images of the promise of spring!  Where ever you are I look forward to seeing how you use foliage in your garden.