Newsletter No 326 October 2015
The autumn is well and truly with us- and what beautiful weather it has been- and hopefully will continue to be! The ideal opportunity to come and help in the wakes garden! We have some good fruit crops that need picking, as well as a lot of weeding to name but two of the many jobs that are essential in the coming month.. Many thanks to all of you who have come and helped in the last month, you help is greatly appreciated- in fact essential if we are to keep the garden up together!
This months Weeders meetings are as follows: Friday 2nd October, the Sunday meeting is this Sunday, 4th (9.30-1.00pm as usual), Monday 5th, Friday 9th, Monday 12th, Friday 16th, Monday 19th , Friday 23rd, Monday 26th and Friday 30th. Weeders Sunday in November will be Sunday 1st November.
As I write these notes, the early morning sun is very bright, and the grass is soaking with dew. It’s a perfect, very comfortable temperature, especially for working in, and a real treat for gardeners: Our heavy black clay soil has, at the moment, just the right amount of moisture to make it easily workable, a circumstance that needs to be seized upon and used- let us not forget how heavy and wet it can be for most of the winter, or how rock hard and cracking it can be in the summer! Yes, we can easily get a tilth at the moment!! The time as not yet come for for retreating under cover, thank goodness, but there will be plenty of times, I fear, when we will need to do that as the year progresses! Thinking of indoor work has anyone got any reasonably large old clay plant pots5-6” diameter and larger- we are desperate to find some for potting on pinks! Any donation gratefully received!
The autumnal garden is quickly losing colour, so for next year we should put some thought to increasing the number of colourful autumnal plants in our borders- within the confines of our eighteenth century palette of course!
This is where those plants with a long flowering season are so important- in the Dining room shrubbery for instance, the purple toadflax (Linaria purpurea) is one of a very few plants in flower at this time of the year, and yet it started in flower in early June. The tiny little purple snap dragons which line the slender flower stems are sometimes regarded as a weed, and certainly the plant occurs in varying numbers in the wild. It was introduced in the mid 17th Century, and we have evidence that it escaped into the wild in Hampshire (on rough ground, walls & banks) around 1860: it probably occurred much earlier. Miller says of this plant, which he calls
‘the greater sweet-scented purple toadflax’
in his Garden Dictionary (1768)
‘the seeds ripen in autumn-which if permitted to scatter, will produce plenty of young plants without any further care.’
Granted, it is pretty prolific, but it’s easy to remove and there aren’t that many plants that bloom from June (or earlier) until October. In the wild flower books its flowering period is given as June-August, but clearly it’s much longer than that. There are also the last flowers on some campanulas, although they are quickly fading. The autumn crocuses make a bold splash of colour at the foot of the old kitchen window. Gilbert white was so impressed with these flowers that he wrote a poem about them entitled
‘On the early and late blowing of the vernal and autumn crocus’
where he asks the question
‘what retards amidst the summer blaze, Th’ autumnal bulb; till pale declining days’.
Gilbert’s mind was inquiring into everything, even in a poem! Can this be answered today by science? I do know that we have discovered that plants are a lot more complex than you might think- Daniel Chamovitz’s ‘What a plant knows’ is an intriguing exploration of the ‘senses’ of plants, even if it is rather a ‘pop science’ book, over simplifying the situation.
The bed by Bell’s Library- close to the house and shop doors- there are more purple toadflax plants and a large vigorous plant of white flowered sweet scabious. This is a short lived perennial, sadly, so it may not be with us next year. Perhaps some late sown and planted hardy annuals may extend our flowering season a little. Opposite this border the display of sunflowers, marigolds and chrysanthemums is a beacon of orange in the autumn sunlight. The tall centre sunflowers have done well, having branched flower heads about 8ft high, and surrounded by annual chrysanths- (used to be called Chrysanthemum coronarium, the Garland Chrysanthemum, and has been called Leucanthemum coronarium, but is currently called Glebionis coronaria: sometimes I feel the English name is going to be more constant than the latin!!) The rings of orange and yellow marigolds have done well, the whole quite well tiered down to the tiny yellow sunflower like heads of the sanvitalia or creeping zinnia. The only plant which didn’t last well in this display was the dwarf sunflower, so another time it would be good to have a later sown set of these ready to replace those that have faded. Many thanks to all of you who have carefully tended this border of the season, from Emily who planted it to Lisa who has just completed what I hope will be the final weed and tidy up.
In the six quarters garden there is one flower and one bud on the autumn damask rose ‘Quatre saison’, beautifully scented too, not quite proving that it is a rose for all seasons but at least showing that it does have a longer flowering season than the other old roses. Some of the hips on the roses are remarkably good this year, including those on the two wall border roses, Rosa gallica ‘Veluntinaeflora’ and R.g. ‘Violacea’. The old musk roses on the wall behind (Rosa moschata) still have some flower, but even these are now greatly reduced in number- perhaps the warm weather, a little untimely for the season, has accelerated their demise.
The first quarter, soon due for total clearance and re-planning, has unusually some late flowering Goats rue (Galega)- no doubt due to a fairly early cut down of the first flower stems. The colourful blooms are certainly welcome now. There are also purple toadflax on flower here (about which enough said) as well as the blue Vipers bugloss, and few rather dwarf but fine quality Painted Lady sweet peas . The latter are flowering in one of the rusty coloured obelisks kindly donated by neighbour Mrs Phil Aston. Touches of red and pink are provided by the scarlet Lychnis, the wall valerian and musk mallow- not a lot of each, but enough to provide some colourful highlights at this time of the year.
The south rose quarter is being greatly improved by rose & Sarah who have removed a lot of the surplus under planting. Some of the roses here also have colourful seed heads, including central Rose, Rosa alba semi-plena, and to a certain extent Rosa gallica officinalis. The tulip tree quarter is a little wild but has an evening primrose in flower, some teasels in seed head, and new berries, still green, on the butchers broom, which still retains the older red ones. The nearby plant sales area is I the process of being re-vamped: weeding, tidying, mending of stands etc.
There is reasonable pear crop on some of the espalier pear trees, including Passe Crasane, Swans Egg and catillac. When we have a new fruit room we will have somewhere rodent proof the store- and keep an eye on these fruits- and of course eat or sell them, to enjoy their benefits to the full!
In the herb garden the Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is turning to seed (worth collecting?) but has been very attractive, there are some fine young bloody dock plants mixed with the sea kale., and the mint is in flower. We will need to manure these beds in the winter to keep the beds in good heart. Young Angelica plants look fine, and architectural, and should provide some great flower heads for next year. The clematises (correct plural?) are slowly ascending the new arch as you exit to the pond garden. Near the black gate blue cornflower and corn marigold (Glebionis segetum- remember it’s not a Chrysanthemum any more- note to self!!) are an attractive detail by the urn and black gate. Most of the meadow garden has now been removed or cut down and the whole looks tidier and better. Walking along the top path above the pond it’s interesting to note how this area, which was our spring meadow, is now almost completely covered by the tree canopies of the Blenheim orange apple and the mulberry, and therefore is a shady meadow, almost a woodland garden. The dynamics of a garden- nothing stays the same for very long!
There are quite good apple crops on all of the trees here, as I reported last month, so this month’s activities will include apple picking: many of the fruits will now go to a cider making venture which should produce a Selborne village cider. The fruits should not be wasted this year! In the pond itself there are plenty (too many) of the lesser bulrush or reed mace, and the bog bean is starting to grow back after its earlier clearance. The newly planted fernery around the stone seat is beginning to get established, but we will need to control Ground elder. The ivy at the base of the Gingko really does need removing, it’s been on the list for a while- any volunteers?
The Orchard walk has become something of a tunnel, being over-hung by many shrubs. The ‘dwarf’ sumachs (all 15ft of them) have now lost their brilliant red tints, but the wild rose at the top has become huge and is covered with attractive orange-red hips. The three Golden pippin trees have a good crop of small, but delicious, apples, & nearby Delma’s Damson (Delma from the plant fair, well known to many of us, donated this tree grown from a chance find in her garden near Winchester) continues to grow. No fruit yet, but it is an early picking variety than can be eaten fresh or made into jam- a very distinctive variety dating from 1997.
Len has been busy keeping the basons in excellent order- they never looked better. There’s not a lot of colour here in the autumn, but there are coreopsis (C.lanceolata) under the cinnamon roses which add a splash of yellow. Looking across the basons we certainly need a new set of five bar gates. Ours may look rustic, but they are dilapidated.they are 20 years old, but they weren’t the best made gates in the first place. Anyone fancy donating a five bar gate? They’re 10ft wide and we need 6. ^ people could be remembered by a plaque on each? Just a thought. 20,000 people plus a year will see them!!
Keith & Jo, and latterly Amanda, have made a very good start on the hedges on Bakers hill, and we will be lowering those around the kitchen garden to make them easier to maintain: this should happen before next month’s newsletter. In the kitchen garden, all has been kept neat and tidy by Keith and other volunteers. The Chinese lanterns (Physalis) make a splash of colour. Also colourful are the very large and bright orange pumpkins, most well over 12 inches in diameter. There also some fine Turks turban squashes still to be harvested. The flax has been put neatly into stooks to dry. (presumably there isn’t a different name for flax stood upright?) there may be linen later! There are plenty leeks (anticipating their use in tea parlour soup) In the hot beds the cucumbers are over, and the melons nearly so- we have had a number of fair melons this year, if not a feast!
The cutting beds are in very good order, Amanda has greatly improved them. The cornflowers have now a very few blooms on, and the Clary only has a few rather bedraggled colourful bracts. Not a good year for annuals, the safflowers (Saffron thistle) and Bells of Ireland did not do well despite careful attention. The English marigolds, on the other hand, were a great success and there is still a good number of blooms. The irises, carefully lined out and weeded, having provided stock for potting up this autumn.
We have a huge list of jobs to do in the garden in the coming month, so I would implore you all to keep up the good work so that we can continue to improve the garden, year on year. Thank you all so much for your help and see you all soon
Best Wishes & Good Gardening,
Just a selection of the hundreds of jobs to be done in the garden in
- Pick Apples & Pears
- Weed brickwalk of main weeds, then weedkiller
- Apply weedkiller to main gravel path
- Finish tops of yew hedges in pond garden
- Tidy up blue pea tub and tidy area around it
- Weed around Marvel of Peru in annual garden
- Continue to Re-organise, Re-vamp, and generally make splendid the large plant sales area
- Continue to Collect & Process Seeds
- Continue to sweep front ramp
- Weed front garden (continued)
- Weeding& Hoeing everywhere, especially in wall bed in six quarters
- Finish cutting top off vine in herb garden!
- Continue to Cut grass edges everywhere
- Take Ivy off Gingko in pond garden
- Weed in Herb garden, esp under pear trees
- Prune rose arches
- Remedial prune of Banksian Roses (drastic)
- Thin Jasmine humile in centre of tulip tree quarter
- Take shrub cuttings (including groundsel bush)
- Check, de-slug plant stands regularly
…And much, much more!