Another return to the plot after absence. To and fro. I am anxious. Autumn has rolled in fast. I am concerned at the speed of change.
I am nervous as I walk up the hill. The day starts sluggish and later now. The sun’s decline undeniable. I turn the key. Howard and Rose, too, have been away. The site looks almost abandoned. Overgrown, returned to a semi-wild.
I see our sunflowers from afar from the gate. I turn the last corner and there it is. Plot 29. An important companion in my life – though largely impervious to my being away.
We made a decision at the start of the year to sow mostly flowers. Colour and a casual beauty would be important as maybe never before. And here it is. Fulfilled.
It is a tall planting this season. Sunflowers in reds and rusts. Towering branched verbena. Pollen-dusted herb fennel. The self-sown orache, deep purpled, heavy with next year’s seed. Hopi red-dye amaranth, its shade a dried saffron. Calendulas everywhere in warm oranges and yellows.
But it is the return of the majestic tagetes which takes my breath. Coloured like royal velvet, its arms spread wide. Nasturtiums climb and sprawl. Constant everywhere I’ve had a hand in.
Colours dance in the slightly chill breeze, the early-morning, early-autumn light.
I cut stems of exhausted sweet peas, whisper thanks, even though there’s no one around. I’ll be back tomorrow and the next day; probably the one after that, too – to make up for lost time.
I will spray the barrels of fermented comfrey I’ve been avoiding. I am hoping Howard will be back to join me. I’ll be liberally sploshing seaweed feed, too. There will be beans to pick, flowers to gather, seed to save. More memories to download.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com