The Garden in November
The weather has been kind to us this Autumn and we have enjoyed some wonderful soft, still days of diffuse sunlight.
On 16th October, however, we witnessed strange atmospheric conditions reminiscent of those described by White in the
summer of 1783. The last stirrings of hurricane “Ophelia”drew up a cloud of dust from the Sahara: “The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground.” Light levels dropped dramatically and the sun appeared red although still high in the sky.
In the garden, some flowering plants are still defying the cold night-time temperatures, notably the tall Nicotiana tabacum, bearing its loose sprays of pink trumpet-shaped flowers and still attracting the bees who disappear entirely inside them. Under the window of the Great Parlour, Scutellaria alpina is in flower for the second time this year and by the fire escape a red hollyhock is also in bloom. We have begun to clear some of the annual plantings and have manhandled the Canna “Russian Red” into several large pots and into the greenhouse. It was easily divided and will now make some impressive new plants for sale.
The bed by the shop doors (known to Gilbert at “the broad border next to Parson’s”) has now been planted in the neat
rows set out in the Garden Kalendar, with double hyacinths, narcissi and tulips. The Crown Imperials, which complete the
picture, are planted very deeply and remain in year-round. They will re-emerge with their characteristic smell, in early Spring.
This year we have planted scented “Ballerina” tulips alongside them in the hope that their subtle fragrance will balance that
of the fritillaries. We have also planted white wallflowers in the bed beneath the Banksian rose.
In the Six Quarters, Rosa alba “Maxima” has one perfect late bloom alongside its red hips. The NW Quarter has been cleared of most of the tall growth and the hazel and willow supports for the perennial sweet peas have been repaired. We need to control the amount of Golden Rod in this bed and in the spring we will try to move the Arundo Donax to a more central position in the bed (we moved part of it last year and it survived so we can now attempt the main section).
In the Naturalist’s Garden the birds are singing their Autumn song. Gilbert White wrote in October 1776, “The Redbreast’s note is very sweet, and pleasing; did it not carry with it ugly associations of ideas, and put us in mind of the approach of Winter.”
This Autumn a Marsh Tit has been seen in this area of the garden – a delicate bird worth looking out for…see Chris Piper
for a description! The Ginkgo has turned a buttery yellow and the spindle trees are in fruit; their bright pink and orange colour standing out well against the bare stems. The pond is in serious need of attention and now is the time to put on the waders begin to control the 3 different types of invasive pond weed now present…the 18thC Bog Bean also needs knocking back a little
as it will eventually colonise all areas of clear water; an extremely efficient plant. In the Vegetable Garden, Keith has sown field beans and garlic and earthed up the rhubarb. Apples and onions are available for sale in the shop along with the few