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Septembers gone


September has been and gone in a flash and brought with it a change in the season and hopefully a return to more predictable weather. I do worry about the coming winter and possible storms though, as well as some early predictions of extreme cold. Anyway, we just have to wait and see. With the cooling temperatures comes a welcome change, as things start to slow down and we get the opportunity to move from a lot of our regular maintenance jobs to more seasonal work and specific projects.

One of this year’s projects was the new Winter Borders which take the form of several drifting beds running alongside a recently created path that cuts through our upper arboretum. We have already placed the main bulk of the plants in the spring, and will commence planting spring bulbs here later this month. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next year.

We just received our main bulb delivery and have begun planting. We have our usual range of tulips, hyacinths and a few more unusual species for the herbaceous border and poison garden and some more narcissus and alliums for naturalising in the grass areas along the river banks and opposite the new toilets and cafe building.

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. Pick apples and pears as they ripen, and store them in trays with shredded newspaper, straw or cardboard liners. For storage the temperature needs to be cool but not frosty. Most homes will be too warm so it’s better to store them in a shed or garage, as long as they are rodent-proof. Windfall or bruised fruit is better used in desserts, jams or wine making. Last year I kept our first batch of cider apples which I mixed with a few of our other old Irish cultivars to produce around 20L of juice which was used to make our first ever batch of cider. It worked very well and this year we will repeat the process and hopefully improve and perfect the process.  I’ll report back on how this goes.

This is traditionally the time for cutting back, tidying and preparing for the winter. 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.

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 such as ornamental heathers, cyclamen and small cordylines 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.

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.

It's also mushroom season and I always look forward to seeing what pops up around the grounds. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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