Fuchsia, Grasses, Hips

To begin elsewhere though, The museum of the moon made a visit to my local Cathedral this week, after wandering round to get a good look at the far side of the moon, not the dark side which is purely a Pink Floyd construct as a wise friend once told me. I started thinking about all the old lores that talk about gardening by the cycle of the moon. As the gravitational pull and the light levels from the moon change during its different phases the gardening jobs could be distributed amongst each moon phase.

The museum of the Moon, artwork by Luke Jerram

Whilst the moon is waning, it is believed the time is ripe to plant root crops as the light levels and gravitational pull are at their weakest and so the roots will go deep down into the earth rather than being tempted towards the surface. The opposite is true of the new moon where l the gravitational pull will be steadily increasing. This has the effect of drawing water to the surface and pulling growth upwards making it the time to plant seeds. With the light levels e increasing until the moon is full with the added gravity and water it is thought the ideal time for balanced root and leaf growth and so a good time to plant anything that is not a root crop.

Back to less lofty heights, and points of interest in the garden this week. I am not a fuschia fan but you cannot deny they are one of the stars of the Autumn garden. From a designers point of view, the provide a different flower shape and growth shape to the border with their elaborate christmas decoration like flowers danling daintily along the stems and they are often in bold colours too. Striking plants such as Fuschia with its vivid lime green leaves and bright red flowers.

Fuschia range from the not hardy bedding varieties that adorn hanging baskets through to hardy shrub varieties that despite hard pruning in December will thrive and flower the following Autumn. If hard pruning is not required then just take out the dead in Spring. They tolerate Sun or part shade but they are coming under more and more threat from Fuchsia Gall mite, which has been in the UK since 2007 and is slowly spreading further north and becoming more prevalent. It seems the mites who are not affected by home gardener pesticides are still affected by a cold winter which is slowing their progress north. However if you start to notice distorted and swollen groth at the end of your shotts and deformed or no flowers at all then this is probably the reason why. Sap sucking insects are attaching the lovely soft growth at the end of the stems. Cut off and destroy or bin infected stems and maybe look to grow one of the varieties considered more tolerant to the pest such as,

‘Baby Chang’,’Cinnabarina’,’MIiature Jewels’,’Space Shuttle’, MIcrophylla subs.hidalgensis, thymifolia and venusta so afr according to the RHS.

Grasses are also having a moment now, with many of them having wonderful flower spikes or seed heads. I am a big fan of many of the Miscanthus for their reliability and movement. Anemanthele *stipa arundinacea* is another of my favourites, the pheasant tail grass. at this time of year the oranges and reds really stand out under the haze of flowers spikes that arch over the leaves .

As the weather this week has certainly started to have a more Autumnal feel to it with the temperatures and light levels slowly falling. Thse Rose Hips are starting to stand out now .

Physalis alkekengi, Chinese lantern plant is also an Autumn attraction. With its bright orange seed pods blown out like little balloons it again added a bit of variety to a herbaceous border. If it is happy in your border beware though it will go on the rampage.

LAstly this time, I was raising the canopy on some sloes the other day to enable us to plant some wild flowers seeds underneath and couldn’t help picking the sloes before dumping the branches on the bonfire pile, Sloe Gin here we come. Waste not want not!

Happy Days in the Garden xx