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And suddenly autumn arrived. The lovely weeks of Indian summer ended abruptly with the autumn equinox and we went from gardening in shorts to wearing waterproofs. As I write it is raining and outside in the Walled Garden the Certificate in Practical Horticulture students are busy learning to hoe and single dig. Happily they are really enjoying the course and their enthusiasm doesn’t appear to be dimmed by the showers. Today they have been looking at soil pH, the difference between annual and perennial weeds, how and why to mulch and how to look after their tools. It is a great course and the next one, starting in January is already nearly full.
The government’s announcements about changes to Covid rules this week have affected all of us in one way or another, but we are very relieved that they specifically do not apply to education and training, and we are therefore able to carry on with our courses. We have put in place as many precautions as we possibly can to keep everyone safe while they are with us and judging by the level of bookings you are all keen to carry on learning about everything from propagation to pruning and composting to Christmas wreaths.
We have been busy saving seeds from perennial and annual flowers including Dianthus carthusianorum, Zinnia, Cosmos, Chrysanthemum ‘Rainbow’ and Francoa sonchifolia. Some of these will be used during next week’s Plants for Free propagation course, but we are also sowing some seeds in the greenhouse while they are really fresh ready for next spring. Some, including Zinnias and Cosmos, we will be storing out of the reach of the mice in the tool shed over winter. Saving your own seed is a great, cheap way to make sure you have your favourite plants next year. It is also a lovely way to share your plants with others. We make up little envelopes for students to take home from our propagation courses and are delighted when we get a photo of seedlings or even of a bunch of cut flowers grown from those seeds.
Upcoming courses with availability:
- Pruning Shrubs and Roses – 2nd October
- Gardening Under Glass – 6th October
- The Cutting Garden – 9th October
- Gardening For A Changing Climate – 13th October
- Border Renovation – 16th October
- Composting Made Simple – 20th October
- Autumn Flowers Workshop – 23rd October
- Renovation Pruning – 6th November
- Planting for Year-Round Colour – 19th November
- Christmas Wreath Workshop – 27th November, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 10th December
- Certificate in Practical Horticulture (10-week course) – 20th January
Plant of the Week
Commonly known as rowan, Sorbus aucuparia was once widely planted beside houses as a protection against witches. The colour red was considered to be the best colour for fighting evil, and the rowan’s bright red berries have been associated with magic and witches throughout history. Sorbus aucuparia is an upright deciduous tree with pinnate leaves which turn yellow in autumn, and flat clusters of white flowers in late spring, followed by orange-red berries in early autumn and a good autumn leaf colour. The Sorbus is tolerant of atmospheric pollution and is suitable for a small garden grows in sun or semi shade on neutral to acid soil.