My Garden by Philippa Thomas

As our Autumn seems to be tightening its cooling grip on our beloved gardens and as our flaunting Summer blooms fade religiously into a sodden brown mushy mess, we realise our Winter is on its way and our shorter days and first frosts trigger plants to shut down for Winter but this shutting down is SPECTACULAR.  The vital green chlorophyll is dismantled and stored and withdrawn from the leaves which allows the yellow, red, purple, clarets, crimsons, golds, russets and mustard pigments to show.  …Is this not a beautiful time of the year and don’t we often get some glorious days?  …Of course too, there are plants that do the opposite, such as Nerines, Asters and Chrysanthemums which come into their glory.  …Then, our pumpkins are still swelling on their vines in time for our Halloween.  October can bring a chilly day, an Indian Summers day or even a frosty day.  Our clocks go back and frost sets into colder parts of our country.  A day or two working in our gardens this month when all pressure is off can be invigorating and can be the perfect time to tidy up.

Maybe?  Plant Your Own Bulb Lasagne For Spring Colour.

  1. Choose a container and add a layer of crocks across the bottom of it for added drainage.
  2. Add a thick layer of the best bulb compost.
  3. Plant the largest and latest flowering bulbs first and cover with a layer of soil.
  4. Continue layering your bulbs by their required depth, moving to the smallest and earliest in the top layer.
  5. Prop your pot up onto pot feet or bricks to allow water to drain from the holes at the base of your planter.

The earlier you plant bulbs the better, for the soil is still warm and getting the roots established before our weather changes will improve them, fight wet and rot.  Tulips are happy to be planted right up to the end of November so maybe, leave them ‘til last.  The general rule is bulbs should be planted at two and a half times their own depth.  …It seems most of the Middle Eastern bulbs work better in pots but woodlanders such as Erythroniums and Snowdrops do better in the ground.  – Remember, there are purple, white and pink Muscari/ Grape Hyacinths as well as the blue tones that we see.

Herbal Haven.

Please take in tender herbs such as Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Dill and Mint.  They really can’t stand frost, so pot them up and bring them under cover, whilst Mint and Parsley are frost hardy our Winter damages the leaves.  We can dry herbs in order to replenish old ones which lose their pungency after storage.  Oregano, Sage, Thyme and Rosemary can be picked, blanched for just one minute, then strip the leaves from stalks, lay on a tray in the oven on the lowest possible setting with door open to allow any moisture to escape.  Leave like this for about 30 minutes and when completely cool, place in an air-tight jar.  …We can also preserve some herbs to use in Winter by chopping them and adding to ice cube trays.  When needed, just pop the cubes into stews and sauces to give them a really fresh herb flavour.  I did the same with fresh cherries this past Summer, in fact I kept a jug of covered tap water in the fridge, generally adding seasonal, simple, sumptuous fruits and a sprig or two of Mint and some lemon balm.

Finally, it really is worth investing in quality bird food even though it will cost a little more.  High quality bird seed won’t contain cheap fillers and husked seeds.  Both are generally wasted causing a mess beneath our bird feeders and a magnet for rodents etc.  Spending a little more, you will be fascinated with your bird guests – you will certainly not be disappointed.

Did You Know ???

Carrots have been orange for 400 years.  Before that they were white, cream or purple.

Did you know that leather jackets are the larval stage of daddy-longlegs, (also known by some as crane flies)?  Leather jackets feed on the roots of grass but worst or maybe best they are an extremely tasty snack for a crow, rook, magpie, badger or a fox.  …So, they obviously come along in search of them, ripping up our lawns, excavating beds and borders in the process.

Might Do Maybe, October Jobs.

  1. Now is the time to feed your lawn. It will give it such a boost; it will make it a glorious green and help it look better next year.
  2. After our good Summer, the soil is warmer that usual, so now is a good time to mulch. Wherever there is bare soil, spread your own compost, leaf mould or old, old green waste.  It helps to condition the soil and retains moisture.
  3. Collect seeds from Summer flowering plants for next year. You could have a ball cutting off Alliums from the base, dry and spray-paint in silver or gold for glorious Christmas decorations.  – Really you can save a small fortune by growing your own plants from seeds and cuttings.  I have a friend and she uses honey to dip her cuttings into.  …Remember, seed is only successful if seed is viable.  Pop a few seeds into a glass of water or damp tissue, change the water every day to avoid rotting and in about a week, depending on the germination habit of the seed, you should see shoots and roots emerging.  This means that this batch of seed is viable and can be sown immediately.
  4. When bringing in house plants that have been in the garden during the Summer, look at the bottom of the pots where slugs and snails hide. House plants begin to slow down as our days get shorter so cut back on watering and feeding until next Spring as Winter feeding results in weaker growth.
  5. Help your green tomatoes turn red before our weather turns cold. Hang a couple of bananas by the plants, your bananas will give off a gas which will encourage your tomatoes to ripen faster.  Green tomatoes, windfall apples, courgettes and marrow can be made into chutney.

*A New Pest Alert*

A new stink bug could be on its way to the U.K. and hopefully not to us.  These bugs are normally harmless but brown mamorated (Halymorphas) feed on the foliage of fruit, veg and ornamental plants causing serious damage.  It has spread from Eastern Asia, through the U.S. and Europe.

‘The Little Things?

The Little Moments?

They aren’t Little!’