The last of Summer

Back from Italy.  And suddenly, have you noticed the evenings getting shorter, the mornings just that little darker?  If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, you will suddenly be feeling the longer days now, I think.  Up here, we’re shifting a gear in the other direction.

We’ve had misty days, cool and green…
but then sunshine too, and now the heat – a late, beautiful summer week.  Last weekend was the Dorset County Show.  Charlie has triumphed, of course….  I loved this mole in animals made from Veg section, always a favourite.  And this – only highly commended?  But strangely this little dachshund with so much character might have been my favourite!  Shaun Vallard’s extraodinary begonias.  Charlie’s gladi.  Inspecting tomatoes.  Mark Read’s prize winning potatoes, perfect.
And his perfect geraniums.  Charlie’s rhubarb – a hotly contested class.  And roses.
My one contribution was to install the flowers in the floating bowl – art direction by Charlie, needless to say.
Second in marmalade was a welcome addition to the roster.
And the usual beautiful views of the show, in progress.  Sheep judging: The main arena, for the Grand Parade – all the prize winning animals.  I find this so moving – so much hard work and dedication, and care for animals and for farming.  The prize winning pig leaves the ground…

Back home, the cutting garden is beyond beautiful.  The veg garden has gone mad.  Pumpkins in the compost heap…. No room to sit down.  Then the real heatwave arrived.
The lake has a hint of autumn in the trees.
Back to the grand parade, Day 2 – rare sheep.  And prize giving in the horticultural tent…. Neil Hatch and his many fantastic dahlia entries….
Charlie with an appropriate shirt.  Ron Benfield,  gets the onion prize too.  Mark Read, happy as ever.  And then yet again it was the end of the show.  We broke down the tent and tables as quickly as we could, in sweltering heat – and headed to Caddy’s for a drink and a gossip about it all….. Caddy’s amazing pumpkin tunnel!  And her garden, looking beautiful. When Charlie had to dig up his dahlia border a couple of years ago (because of the shade of the ancient copper beech tree in the garden), the tubers made their way to Caddy’s garden – her border is amazing.  Early morning in the garden.
Back in London – the last of the dahlias that Charlie had brought up the week before.  There have been some astonishing mornings.  I had an early train to catch down to Winchester… St Paul’s looking astonishing in the heat haze.  Back up that night for the Pentreath & Hall launch, with Lyndsey Ingram, of Kate Friend’s beautiful new book of flower portraits. A lovely evening – the street never felt better.  At dawn the next morning I was down in Hampshire, photographing this house which I designed about ten or more years ago now – looking very settled in its landscape, I was glad to see and say. Back down to Dorset.  We’ve had a quiet weekend.  Breakfast, lunch and not quite supper in the garden (although we did cook outside).  And yesterday afternoon the beautiful beach at Burton Bradstock, for a swim, and a pint on our way home…. And an amazing sunset.  It feels just ever so gently like the end of summer now – what a magical week of late sunshine it has been.

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