Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10.30AM to 5PM & Bank Holidays

Garden Newsletter: November

It’s a beautiful Autumn with some wonderful leaf colours on the trees- The Wakes is looking wonderful with its golden backdrop of the Hanger- so please come along and enjoy the scene- and of course HELP in the garden! There are still apples and medlars to pick, and a great deal of tidying up and weeding to do, so we will keep you busy when you come!

Many Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard in the garden over the last weeks picking apples, weeding, helping with hedges, clearing, potting, leaf collecting, re-vamping plant stands and making bonfires … we really couldn’t do all this without you!

As Autumn slides into Winter, the eighteenth century garden, like most other gardens, has a declining number of flowers, shrubs & trees in bloom ‘in the open air’. In Miller’s Garden Kalendar, 1769 edition, the number of flowers in bloom consists of 34 lines of text in October, 12 lines in November and 7 in December! In terms of flowers mentioned by White & in Miller, this translates into 20 sorts in October, about 10 in November and about 6 in December. A few more if you include the flowers of trees & shrubs. But of course, there’s the beautiful foliage of the Hanger & other trees & shrubs, and the structure of the landscape garden, the evergreens and much more to admire in the winter months. To quote Gilbert White:

“If a masterly lands-cape painter was to take our hanging woods in their autumnal colours, persons unacquainted with the country, would object to the strength & deepness of the tints, & would pronounce, at an exhibition, that they were heightened & shaded beyond nature. Wonderful & lovely to the Imagination are the colourings of our wood-landscapes at this season of the year!”

Gilbert White – Naturalists Journal October 26, 1783.

In the Dining Room Shrubbery we do have an odd white campanula in flower, as well as the Groundsel Tree Baccharis halimifolia. Not an exciting flower I do grant you, to quote W J Bean

‘The blossom has little beauty, being of a dull white; but the numerous thistle like heads of the fruit of the female plant, with their silky white pappus, are rather striking’

No such attractive white pappus with us, so I think we must have a male plant. Anyhow, this shrub will have to go in the new improvement scheme, and therefore we’ll try to plant a female one in a new scheme!

Down by the old kitchen there are still a few flowers on the Catmint, and we are still hoping we’ll get a flower or two on the tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabacum) next to the Magnolia. That Magnolia which will have to go, if not be drastically pruned!! I know it’s controversial, but it really is too big for that site. Trouble is, it always seems to have big fat enticing flower buds on it, and combined with such large, shiny attractive foliage it seems to be crying out to be preserved. We shall see! Beneath the Banksian Rose (another major pruning project!) yellow corydalis is still in flower. And remember it’s now Pseudofumaria lutea rather than Corydalis lutea: Don’t we just love these name changes??!! On that subject, were you aware that the Kaffir Lily, that very long flowering corm with pink or red spikes of flowers, has been called Hesperantha rather than Schizostylis for very many years. I wasn’t!!

The musk roses at either end of the six quarters wall border have now sadly gone out of flower. The First (SE) quarter now needs digging out, and systematically dug over to remove couch grass. Rose & Sarah have been drastically thinning the ground cover in the two rose quarters- one complete and the next well on the way, this is a great improvement and has enabled valuable seedlings to be transplanted from the SE quarter into free spaces. There’s a good show of orange berries on the stinking gladwin, Iris foetidissima. But sadly the leaves are streaked yellow- possibly a virus or ink spot disease?

We’ve been picking a lot of apples from the pond garden and taking them- along with others from the village- to be made into cider. We will soon have taken half a ton up to the colemore farm where this is made, and hope to achieve a ton or so before we are finished. The willow hoops need pruning around the pond, we can use the willow wands to thicken the bird hide. Mike has cut through the large ivy trunk that was growing up the Gingko tree- a job that was well overdue and which I am relieved to see done. One of our mezereon bushes has grown large nearby, but another has sadly died. The bladder -nut tree (Staphylea pinnata) at the back of the border has put on a great deal of growth. The leaves of this, & the Gingko, have turned bright yellow and make a colourful show in the autumn sunlight.

The hanger is now showing really brilliant autumn colour, reminiscent of my quote from Gilbert White at the beginning of this newsletter. I think Professor Mark Laird once remarked that there didn’t seem to be much record of the Georgian gardeners appreciating autumn tints: Gilbert White certainly did, and so do we! In the orchard walk the shining sumach have brilliant red finely divided leaves, and the path is awash with them and others. The cotoneaster berries on the big tree over the old field centre in the yard provide a very bright show of what must be thousands of red berries, whilst on the roof of the centre itself is a carpet of dainty green leaves. On closer inspection, climbing a ladder, I found this to be a very pure crop of many hundreds of Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) seedlings. If this all flowers together the mass of pink flowers will be quite a sight! In the orchard walk the scorpionsenna’s still have plenty of fresh yellow pea flowers, whilst the hips on the wild rose suckers also add colour to the scene.

The vegetable garden has been greatly improved by reducing the height of the surrounding hedges. These hedges, consisting of a mixture of field maple, hazel and hawthorn (twice as much maple as the others) planted in the winter

of 1995/6 had grown 8-9ft tall and were both difficult to maintain and reducing light levels in the garden. The hedge on the eastern (broad walk) side was pure hawthorn- or originally- it had a lot of old man’s beard in it! They have now all been reduced to 6ft tall, although the arch over the gate has been retaining. The work was carried out by contractor & neighbour Rob Catton. The only hedge not reduced in this fashion has been the bottom hedge, between the evergreen oak & the alcove as this has landscape importance and will be reduced carefully so as to retain the appropriate vistas.

The vegetable garden itself has been well maintained by Keith: Asparagus has been mulched with manure, beds weeded and paths edged. Rampion (the campanula root crop) is still in flower, and Liquorice & Skirret crops have been carefully weeded. A few demonstration cabbages & kale have been retained under the handmade linen netting. A good crop of leeks is anticipated and these will be useful for the tea-parlour. The deer damaged beans look unusual- the stems stripped to about three feet. Deer control will have to be better next year! The edging of orange Chinese lantern plants (Physalis) make a really bright show at this time of the year, and these are backed by a good group of teasels.

Len has been keeping the Basons in good order, over the winter we will plan to improve the year long colour from these and perhaps incorporate quite a few more Gilbert White plants. The smoke bush leaves have coloured up well this year but the longest lasting colour has come from the yellow flowers of the Coreopsis lanceolata plants beneath the cinnamon roses near the entrance to the Melonry.

In the Melonry itself the beds are being removed and the manure used to fertilise the vegetable garden, being careful to remove the couch grass! At the bottom of the Melonry, the spreading beech tree above the melon house is a beautiful coppery yellow, and nearby the feathery light green foliage of the swamp cypress takes the eye. We have plans to make bigger and better hot beds next year!!

This year, on November 5th, we are having a big bonfire down in the Ewel (Car Park) field, and we have been inviting villagers (and volunteers) to bring any wooden waste materials they have to augment the fire. We have taken down to the bonfire a fair number of pine logs from the tree that was felled near the bottle bank in the car park: nobody seemed to want the wood for burning, although I understand that resinous wood like pine does not put sticky tar on your chimney. It may, on the other hand, spit! Ask for more details of the bonfire party if you are interested. There won’t be fireworks- except sparklers- but possibly mulled wine and soup! Plans are underway!

I look forward to seeing you all in November! There is a great deal to do to put the garden in good order for next year, preparation is everything, so please do come along and help with the many tasks in hand. The state of the garden depends largely on YOU!!

Best Wishes & Good Gardening

David Standing

Just a selection of the hundreds of jobs to be done in the garden in November:

  • Clear SE Quarter of all plants, heeling in valuable plants
  • Re-plan and re plant the SE Quarter
  • Build new brick retaining bed for the collection of pre 19th century pinks
  • Continue to Pick Apples & Pears
  • Apply weedkiller to main gravel path
  • Finish tops of yew hedges in pond 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
  • Continue to Cut grass edges everywhere
  • Weed in Herb garden, esp under pear trees
  • Remedial prune of Banksian Roses (drastic)
  • Thin Jasmine humile in centre of tulip tree quarter
  • Take shrub cuttings (including groundsel bush)
  • Clear annual beds by shop doors & plant Bulbs
  • Clear annual beds by herb garden & plant bulbs
  • Dig & manure vegetable garden plots
  • Check, de-slug plant stands regularly

…And much, much more!