It is the time of year that distinctly divides the positive and the negative. Pessimists will look at the garden, with the same gloom that children approached the return to double chemistry, thinking everything is dying and over. Winter is here, time to batten down the hatches for winter. The optimists amongst us are relishing in late flowering Asters, welcoming Autumn Heathers and Gentians and continuing to cling to a summer wardrobe despite the drop in temperatures.
With so much written recently about the benefits to our mental health of gardening. I do find it interesting the effect of the end of summer on people’s mood and their relationship with their garden. Are you focusing on what is dead and over in the border or the plants still in flower?
It was chilly this morning as I went to pick the beans and tomatoes. I have stuck the chillies in the summer house to try and make sure they survive a bit longer yet. The range of temperatures we can experience in a day at the moment is also enough to try anyone’s mental health. We have entered the jumper on jumper off stage of the year again. No wonder the last of the veggies don’t know whether to ripen or rot!
Relish the time of autumn flowering Heather’s. They are a welcome site on moorland hills and rockeries alike. It is such a shame to read they are proving to be another casualty of our changing climate with reports of up to 75 percent decline in the moorland heather in the UK. They are such a vital resource for wildlife from the Red Grouse to the Emperor Butterfly larvae. The winters being milder also hasn’t killed off the Beetle attacking the already struggling heather. So it is being struck from all sides.
Bulbs, as garden centres and online retailers bamboozle us with their array of bulbs, a couple of things to mention, firstly if you did plant Autumn Crocus, Colchicum autumnale, remember to go and seek them out, enjoy and make sure they are not swamped by other foliage from earlier stars of the border. Secondly, whilst it is advantageous to get your Daffodils and spring Crocus in now Tulips benefit from being planted a lot later. Usually November time. so keep the bulbs somewhere dry and cool. If they are in plastic packaging remove the bulbs from this and let them breathe. JUst don’t store them where they can be nibbled by mice.
Nipping back to my brief sojourn to Paris last week, Although there was sadly no time for garden exploring apart from a relaxing walk through the Tuileries bringing a welcome respite from the hustle of the traffic. I couldn’t help but notice this bust of Andre le Notre, who lived in a house at the end of the Tuileries garden. Even the most challenging of client I have come across would look saintlike compared to Louis 14th. The gardens at Vaux le Vicomte, Nicholas Fouquet was proudly showing off to Louis, in a bid for promotion to First Minister. A plan which spectac lularly back fired as Louis imprisoned his finance minister and stole Le Notre from him to build the gardens at Versailles. Le Notre despaired at the uninteresting featureless bog that he was to create a garden from. However worse struggles were to come coping with the Sun Kings demands and desires such as having his fountains running 24 hours a day, which meant building a canal 100 miles long. After the first attempt with his massive and deadly construction pumping water from the Seine was not powerful enough for a continuous flow. Even once the garden was built, In January Louis would demand to walk in the gardens and see roses in flower. This required thousands of roses being transported from the south of france and planted out in the morning for Louis to walk past. They had to replant at lunchtime due to the damage the weather had inflicted on the blooms. As spectacular as Versaille is due to its shear scale Vaux le Vicomte
Don’t be gloomy, winter is a long way off and the garden has many stars still to dazzle us with. Try not to get too overwhelmed with all of the cutting back and tidying that needs doing. One golden rule to leave you with. Shrub wise, if it flowered before the middle of June, anything you cut off it now you are cutting off next years flowers. enjoy your, not ending anytime soon, Happy Days in the Garden. x