A Shocking September
Well I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s in shock. Where did September go? It feels like the start of autumn with trees around the arboretums starting to colour and the night temperatures dropping.
I have started to watch the overnight temperatures, and we have already moved most of our tender specimen plants from the Jungle Border and Fern Garden into their winter homes in our glasshouse and poly tunnel. Our next job will be the wrapping of fleece on some of our tree ferns. Last year I moved all of the more tender fern varieties inside and we did not fleece any of the Dicksonia antarctica as the winter was so mild. This year I am planning on experimenting with fleece tents over some of our less hardy ferns. I’m hoping this will provide a micro-climate where they can rest for the winter without the disturbance of lifting and moving them.
We are expecting our main bulb delivery shortly. We have around 30000 bulbs arriving! This sounds a lot but we are planting large drifts of bluebells and wood anemones which go into the ground in 100’s and a large number of ornamental onions in the Seven Sisters grass borders. In addition we have our usual range of tulips, hyacinths and a few more unusual species for the herbaceous border and poison garden and some species tulips for naturalising in the grass areas. I try to add to the range of bulbs every year and experiment with a few new varieties.
Winter bedding will be planted out over the next few weeks. We use a lot of pansy and viola as I find them to be the most reliable in our unpredictable climate. Skimmias provide a good Christmassy look with their red berries and we generally mix in a few other things just to add to the interest. We also have winter baskets at the main entrance and stable yard areas to keep a little colour over the duller months.
Our apples have just been picked and have gone to make organic apple juice which we will be selling in the cafe and shop. It has proved to be very popular with the tourists and locals. We made over 1000 bottles this year. Our grapes are now also ripe, and we are squeezing them on site to make grape juice. The leftovers make a great base for wine making and I expect to have a few bottles ready for Christmas.
As growth starts to slow in the gardens we get chance to look at new projects and landscaping work. There are a few exciting developments in the planning stages that I hope will further enhance the gardens. These include a new Winter Border, extensions to the Tropical Border, a Summer House renovation and a new sculpture. Expect to hear about them over the coming months.
Our tree surgeons will be busy this autumn with pruning and in some cases removing diseased or dead trees. Dutch elm disease is still a problem and we have lost around 50 semi-mature elm trees around the estate. We have been removing them over the last year and there are quite a few still to tackle.
Jobs for October include, tie in and cutting back of raspberry and loganberry canes if you haven’t already, bulb planting around the garden, apply autumn fertiliser to lawns, lift and divide herbaceous plants if you need to, and cut them back as they die down, stop feeding indoor plants now, tidy up beds, borders and glasshouses and make plans for next year.
Autumn is a wonderful time here in the gardens. Watch out for the trees starting to colour up in the arboretums and come to see our Lime tree avenue, which turns bright gold. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam