Autumn spirit is with us these days. A constant change in weather is our daily challenge as gardeners; from stormy and torrential rains to calm lovely sunny autumn days. We have layers of clothes on us so we can peel them off the warmer it gets!
Autumn flowering perennials like Asters, Sedums, Kaffir Lilies or Pearl Everlasting are among the perennials which are brightening up the garden at the moment. They are also lovely Cut flowers which can be used in small bouquets.
Pic1 An autumnal flower bouquet
The last of the grapes got harvested and the sweetness of them is increasing the riper they are, it is a bit like a sugar flush.
Its always funny when I explain children what raisons are and how they are produced!
Pic2 The last grape harvest
When I visit other gardens I always look for the not so obvious areas or hidden corners which can be quite charming or offer a lot of details. In our garden it would be the area behind the Vinery, the former Fernery Glasshouse. This glasshouse is not restored yet. Back then, 150 years ago, it was the perfect spot for an indoor fern garden. In the shade of the Vinery wall, the air moistened by a water basin, the ferns grew in pockets of artificial rock work in the wall. The sight must have been quite amazing. I wonder if birds sneaked in there to enjoy the humid and sheltered conditions. The glasshouse was shaped the same way as the Vinery to the front, the south facing site. Curvilinear glass fronts which leaned onto the centered brick wall gave an optimal structure and created the perfect incidence of light for either the vines to the south or the ferns to the north.
Pic3 Area of the former Fern Glasshouse behind the Vinery
End of September and October is the time to start cutting back the old stalks of perennials in borders. Everything brown can be cut back to the ground or to the new set of leaves. Sometimes the old flower heads look very interesting and are worth while to leave for another while. If you want to collect seeds of this particular plant then the seeds need to be fully ripe. They also can provide food for birds. We keep old flower heads of Thistles, Artichokes or African Lilies and use them later for Christmas decorations.
Pic4 Old flower heads of Echinops sphaerocephalus, known commonly as glandular globe-thistle
We started to clear out the summer bedding, clearing and weeding the beds, forking them over and replanting with spring bedding.
Few summer bedding like Calendulas, Snap dragons and Cannas are clinging on to the last warm sunny days. They were just brilliant this year. I never saw our Cannas so big and multi-flowering. The annual bedding plants will be taken out, too and the Cannas will stay in the bed and covered with a layer of our own compost as a winter protection.
Pic5 The last of Calendula ‘Orange King’, Antirrhinum ‘Defiance’ and Canna indica ‘Purpurea’
The birds in the garden will be delighted this autumn, our Crabapples are covered with small red apples. We normally see mainly thrushes and black birds going for them at the end of the season. The Crabapples are not suitable to be eaten raw like normal apples and need to be cocked. I remember Sr. Benedict always making jelly out of them.
The Vegetable Garden is well prepared for the coming months. We put a heavy layer of seaweed on all Brassica plots. The small spring cabbages have a good feed and protection with the seaweed spread around.
Pic7 Fresh seaweed around Kales and Cabbages
The last of the Runner beans and French beans got harvested. The crop was a bit lower then is previous years but the quality of the beans is still good. My favorite would be the French Bean ‘Blue Lake Stringless ‘, a good cropper with delicious and easy to prepare beans.
Pic8 French Bean ‘Blue Lake Stringless’ (bottom left), French Bean ‘Cosse Violet’ (bottom right), Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ (top)
Apples and Pears are off the trees, too. Many blew off in recent storms so we had to harvest everything in recent weeks. The pears still need to ripen a bit more, they are left in the Vinery for the time being.
Pic9 Cooking apples
Pic10 Different types of pears
Today was a lovely day, the sun was quite warm and a gentle breeze went through the garden. The lower sun around this time of year means there are more shadows falling on the lawns from the surrounding trees. The light seems so much warmer then in the summer time!
Pic11 An autumn afternoon in the Formal Flower Garden
We will be very busy the coming few weeks with planting all spring bedding and bulbs. The dry weather helps, so lets hope we will get a bit more of it!
Below are the usual garden advises for this time of year.
Your Head Gardener
Garden jobs you can do in October:
To Sow or Propagate
~ Sow fresh seeds of perennials
~ Take semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs
~ Pot on rooted cuttings of Hydrangeas or Fuchsias
~ Hedges, Fruit trees and bushes
~ Annual spring bedding and spring bulbs
~ Everything what’s still out there!
(Nuts, Pears, Apples, Carrots, Parsnips, Leeks, Cabbages, Beetroot…)
~ Leave crops like Turnips or Leeks in ground for another while
~ Autumn feed lawns, scarify if necessary
~ Keep on top of fallen leaves, rake or leave-blow regularly
~ Power wash slippery surfaces
~ Clean Gutters, could be a big build up of leaves