October came and went within split seconds or so it seems. My original idea of writing this blog in the first half of each month seems to become more and more difficult, time runs at an enormous speed. Since October is nearly over I will focus on garden jobs which could be done in November at the end of this diary.
The planting of all spring bedding, sorting out bulbs, tidying away the endless supply of leaves, cutting back borders, saving seeds… the list seems endless. It is a good complaint I presume and our work days fly. Finally I got a chance to sit down and type out my recollection of the past few weeks. Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Connemara and the landscape was absolutely breathtaking. I went for a long walk along the Dawros River which starts here in Kylemore and is a bit of a magical place. The purity of the water means that the endangered fresh water pearl mussel is able to live in this fast flowing river and I witnessed a mussel which just put out its foot to move along for finding the right spot to bury itself half way. It is a great sign to see these massive old mussels, they can have a life span of around 120 years. The natural flora growing along the river banks made it even more enjoyable, the red berries of Holly’s and the red fruits of wild roses were gleaming in the autumn sun.
Pic1 Freshwater Pearl Mussel
Today is a different story again, cold rain and gusts go right over the garden walls and make our work a bit more challenging.
Nearly all the spring bedding is planted and also the first spring bulbs have gone into the beds too. Crocus, Hyacinths, Narcissus and Chionodoxa would be the first bulbs we plant. Tulips, Fritillarias and Anemones will follow soon. It is important to check the bulbs in the store weekly and to remove rotted ones and to check for damage caused by mice.
Pic2 Our bulb store upstairs in the former Bothy, a nice dry, dark and cool place
It is always exiting when opening up the new bulb packages, I love the different shapes, sizes and colours. The varieties are all very unique and have their own special identification details like the dark red to brown coloured small bulb of Tulip turkestanica.
Pic3 Small bulbs of Tulip tukestanica
Pic3 Planting out our own raised Forgetmenots on a nice sunny day!
Pic4 Spring bulbs are laid out for planting in our Diamond beds
The last carrots were dug up beginning October, ‘Autumn King’ must be our best growing and tastiest old variety we have and is also the last one to be harvest. The rich sweet flavour of a home grown carrot can’t be beaten . They were part of our last Vegetable sale for this year and sold out in no time.
Pic5 Carrots ‘Autumn King’, a heritage variety dating back to 1900
We also picked the last of the grapes. The crop quantity was average but the flavour quite intense and sweet.
Pic6 Our three grape varieties (left to right): ‘Black Hamburgh’, ‘Buckland Sweetwater’, Grizzley Frontignan’ (Muscat Vine)
This year was the first season we were able dig up a good crop of Chinese Artichokes. They belong to the Mint family and grow similar to Oca or Jerusalem Artichokes underground. The small white unusual looking rhizomes can be eaten raw or cooked. I like them raw since they have a lovely crunchy texture and a bit of a nutty taste.
Pic7 Chinese Artichokes
We wheld our traditional Halloween event last weekend once again. Despite the rather unpleasant weather we had a good turnout and over 300 children and their families who came to decorate their own fairy doors, witness the wise woman (Cailleach) casting spells, watch traditional turnip carving, taste home baked brack or finding spots for hibernating frog houses. The event was finished off with a big Bonfire outside the garden walls and luckily the rain held off nicely . We also opened up the new fairy trail in our woodland play area. A remembrance tree in our restored Vinery invited everybody to tie on a card with a personal note on.
Pic8 Tree of remembrance in the Vinery
Pic9 Happy turnips carved and decorated by our garden student Michaela
Pic10 The popular Bonfire with the wise woman doing her spells
Have a great Halloween and enjoy the last few autumn days!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in November:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Take cuttings of soft fruits like Currants or Raspberries
~ Propagate rhubarb by division and replant immediately
~ Plant out herbaceous plants left sitting in pots
~ Plant bare-rooted roses immediately after receiving order, water in well
~ Order and plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedges; until the end of February
~ Any vegetables left in ground like spinach, leaf beet, carrots, parsnips, cabbages
~ Curley Kale after first frost idealy
~ Last of apples and pears, check storage for rotten ones on a regular base
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Tidy lawns of leaves to avoid rotting
~ Power wash surfaces to prevent slippery surfaces
~ Feed spring cabbages with own liquid comfrey