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How many trees have to fall before local councils see their significance?

The year turns inward now. The darkening dusks, the long shadows and the endless leaf-clearing leave few appealing opportunities for gardeners engaging in outdoor work.

Curly-leaved parsley may not have the best flavour, but it gives the prettiest effect

I have been working up in the Highlands for three weeks: no phone, no telly, no internet. I didn't miss any of those, since they don't play much part in life at home either. But, after the first 10 days, I did begin to miss the garden. The cottage I use in Wester Ross is miles up a track, with a marshy meadow on one side. Then mountains, fore and aft and, at night, stags roaring all round. On the deer fence, a wisp of honeysuckle clings grimly to the wire. Someone must once have got a crop of potatoes off this ground. And turnips. But now, just grass.

Weekend work: Time to plant trees and shrubs

WHAT TO DO

Weekend work: Time to plant grape vines

What to do

Better still: Emma Townshend enjoys the 'stationary' pleasures of Selborne House

Lately I've started to think of myself as stationary. I've not moved house since leaving home some point in the mid-1990s. Even if I go on holiday (not very good at that, either), I prefer just going to the same old place, experiencing the occasional new bakery/ice-cream place/car rally, but mainly just laying another year's worth of memories over all the others. And garden-wise, I'm not one of these energetic types blogging their latest "gravel bed" creation – I'm mainly doing it to watch the things I planted 15 years ago renewing themselves; years turning; familiar roses fading, and flowering again.

The resplendent isle: Sri Lanka's botanical gardens are so lush, almost all of the plants are unfamiliar - and stunning

When the great architect Geoffrey Bawa made his garden at Lunuganga, he described it as "a garden made in a garden", the larger garden being the landscape of Sri Lanka.

A retreat of one's own: Tending to Virginia Woolf's country plot proved a surprising insight into the writer herself

When Caroline Zoob was living at Monk's House, the former home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, she recalls how she would overhear visitors speculating erroneously about the Woolf marriage, and what they presumed were Virginia's many lesbian affairs. "I would sit in the kitchen gritting my teeth, longing to pop my head out and put them right."

Amana from heaven: Emma Townshend reveals her favourites from the spring seed catalogues

So my aunty was on Facebook last night going on about how Sarah Raven had sucked her in and taken all her money again. OK, you think this might be an exaggeration. But what she actually said was, "Oh Sarah Raven, how you tempt me with your plant porn. In goes a big seed'n'bulb order. Yes." (As a fully paid-up and practising member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, she – Ms Judy Astley – can get away with this kind of saucy stuff.)

Still going strong: With the warm air and moist ground, autumn gardens can provide the finest spread of all

The rich, still days that we so often get in the first half of October can provide the best conditions of the year, says Anna Pavord

Weekend work: Time to cut back herbaceous perennials

What to do

Bright spark: As autumn approaches there is one firework of a flower that really catches the eye

A little curling fountain of pink firework sparks, each flower head is made up of a studded set of tinier flowers, a bit like a Barbie-toned Agapanthus. There are only a few floral highlights at this time of year, but among them are the prettiest, frilliest and slightly pink-spidery of early autumn treats, the Nerines. The name sounds mythological, but it turns out nobody's really sure. Apparently it was a cheeky Regency vicar, the Rev William Herbert, who coined the name, possibly just out of his wonderful head.

Weekend work: Time to tie up climbers

What to do

The silly season: Forget long autumn walks in the park - bring on the freezing depths of winter!

The human race divides into two clear groups, I reckon. There are those admirable people who come to the end of the summer holidays and then spend the early autumn enthusiastically enjoying long walks in the misty park, wearing selections from their wardrobe of unusual scarves, kicking up the reddening leaves and winsomely collecting special pine cones. Well done, guys.

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