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Autumn Blog - September 2017

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Head Gardener Mary Hamer shares all the happenings in the Walled Garden

Vegetables and Fruit:

This time of year, the fruit and veg harvest spans three seasons. The last of the summer produce, such as French beans, figs, radishes, and melons; the typical autumn fare of apples, pears and pumpkins; and the beginnings of winter staples like parsnips and leeks. The vegetable area will be slowly cleared across the autumn leaving only crops such as brussels sprouts and winter cabbages which withstand the coldest winter weather. This year they will also have to brave a few days of minimal protection against the rabbits as the main fence around the north-east quarter of the garden will be taken down to be replaced with a fence just around the vegetable area.

 

New Borders:

Two new borders in front of the MacKenzie Moncur Glasshouse have been planted up. This area is part of the original extensive dahlia borders from the mid-twentieth century. This pair of borders were prepared during many weeks of soil being sieved and then wheelbarrowed from the soil heap to the borders. this was because the soil was rather poor and in some areas concrete from the 1970s plant nursery was very close to the surface.

The other new area that has been created is a very narrow border barely 15cm wide at the bottom of the diaphragm wall. This area had been looking untidy as it's not easy to keep the grass trim at the wall edges, so now a strip of soil has been cleared between the wall and the grass and planted with ground cover plants.

With the warm weather and plenty of rain, both plants and weeds have grown quickly and the volunteers have been kept busy during the Open Season with general maintenance. Harvesting also takes up a great deal of time on Wednesday mornings to ensure produce is ready for the shop and for visitors to buy.

The borders in the north-west quarter first planted up this April are continuing to do well and across the year we have been planting up the gaps in them. Now we're actually at the point of saving seeds from some of the new annual plants so things are going full circle! After the last open day, it's time to cut back the herbaceous perennials and look to the borders being tided up for the winter.

In terms of propagation, we have sown some hardy annual flowers this autumn and also have taken some cuttings of box and yew. As usual we've planted a few daffodil bulbs as although we rarely open in the spring, all the volunteers enjoy the yellow blooms after the winter. 

Plant Heroine:

Asters bring a new flush of colour just when a lot of other plants are going over. I particularly like the variety Aster novae-angliae 'Violette' which is a beautiful shade of purple and stands up well without flopping.