It is the eleventh anniversary of what I call 'The Square Metre' project, or 'Emthree' (M3), a small area of garden that I have studied in some detail since 3rd September 2003. I was 65 then and now, as the arithmetic shows, 76. I have changed just as much as M3, but in a different way. I am older and more tired. Bits of me do not work as well as they should, but I manage. M3 is now more of a wood (even an 'ancient wood') than a meadow. There is a silver birch at its heart maybe twelve metres tall and a four metre ash. There are small birches, a sallow, an oak, a hornbeam and a holly. Just outside the square, in what I call the penumbra there are two hazels, some hawthorn, a cotoneaster and other plants sown in droppings from birds perching in the old medlar tree. I have introduced nothing: it all arrives of its own accord. The medlar is on its way out: today it was sporting a fine array of wood-rotting bracket fungi and sulphur tuft toadstools.
In several places I have identified wild privet (right), again bird sown and there are two species of rose - one I have not identified and the field rose (much attacked by leaf-cutter bees) which, despite its name, is supposedly an ancient woodland indicator. Quick aside: a tawny owl was hooting loudly in the wood down the garden at 1 p.m. English tawny owls are thought to be evolving away from the continental varieties and one of the criteria is daytime calling.
Today I can see few flowers other than singletons on stunted ragwort and bugle. The summer is over. The ground is littered with brown and yellow birch leaves, a hogweed has an umbel of pale green seeds and a red campion holds its empty goblets, once full of seed, to the blue September sky.