Somehow at this time of year, as the temperature and the light confirm the transition to autumn, gardeners finally accept that their days won’t all be spent outside in the garden and they begin to tidy and sort and plan indoors. That may include ordering and planting bulbs, ordering seeds and sowing some of them, tidying the tool shed. For us, this week, it includes cleaning the Rhino greenhouse. The glass may look clean enough, but as we wash it, we let in more precious light which will be vital in the short winter days ahead. Having harvested the last of the tomatoes, red and green, and pulled up the vines, we are clearing dead leaves and spent compost from the greenhouse floor. Good hygiene is essential, especially in a closed environment such as a greenhouse, otherwise pests and diseases may overwinter and damage next year’s seedlings and plants. Similarly we are washing and sorting all of the plant pots vacated by the biennials which have been planted out. It’s a good time of year to get on top of the housework!
We have also been cutting down some of the perennials which are not going to look good through the winter and digging up annuals which have finished. This includes sunflowers which have been stripped by the squirrels. Their stalks are thick and won’t compost quickly, so we chop them before adding them to the compost heap, along with the runner beans and tomato vines. There have been frosts locally, but none yet in the Walled Garden, so the courgettes are still ripening. They will probably finish in the next week or so, but it has been an excellent year for all of the squash.
This is a great time of year to review beds and borders and plan changes. We had our Border Renovation course last week, looking at how to lift, divide and replant the perennials you want to keep, and how to add year round interest to your border with stem colour as well as flowers, foliage and scent. Next week we will look at Renovation Pruning with a course which focuses on how to rescue shrubs and small trees (including fruit trees) which have not been pruned for some time.
Another very useful course which is coming up in the next couple of weeks is What Needs Doing Now, a look at all of the jobs which we need to get on with over the coming months. It may be tempting to see late autumn and winter as the quiet season in the garden, but we don’t believe in ‘putting a garden to bed’ for the winter. There are lots of jobs which need doing now to get the garden ready for next year. We will cover all of these on 9th November.
Don’t forget to book your place on one of our Christmas Wreath and Christmas Table Decoration workshops in early December. Some of the days are nearly full, but we do have spaces left.
Upcoming courses with availability:
Pruning Shrubs & Roses 24th October
Renovation Pruning 1st November
What Needs Doing now 9th Nov
Care of Fruit Trees 12th Nov
Planting Trees, Shrubs & Hedges 14th Nov
Developing an Annual Maintenance Plan 15th Nov
Plants for the Menopause 16th Nov
Plants for Free: Propagation & Seed Saving 21st Nov
Floristry Workshop 4: Tablescapes 26th Nov
Floristry Workshop 5: Christmas Wreaths 3rd Dec
Floristry Workshop 6: Christmas Table Decorations 10th Dec
Christmas Wreath Workshops 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th Dec
Plant of the Week
Fraxinus angustifolia 'Raywood'
Given the common name of Claret Ash, because of the autumn leaf colour, this is a fast growing, medium size deciduous tree, suitable for medium sized gardens. Tolerant of both urban conditions and coastal areas it grows well in well-drained soil. The slender dark green leaves turn a spectacular claret red in the autumn. This ash tree was originally from southern Australia where it was discovered growing on a property called Raywood. It was introduced to the UK in 1928.