Sunday, 14 October 2018

AUTUMN IN THE GARDEN


AUTUMN IN THE GARDEN

The garden has now gone into its autumn phase. Long hot summer days are now a pleasant memory still widely under discussion, but cooler nights and more frequent showers are normal. Autumn tints are seen on numerous trees. In my garden the
Anna prepares apples for storage
Japanese maple Acer Sangokaku has turned a brilliant orange scarlet and many others are on the turn. The fruit bushes of saskatoons, chokeberries and blueberries have all put on their autumn tints as well as deciduous azaleas.
Japanese maple
Trees and shrubs grown for their berries such as the rowans and cotoneaster have been very prolific, although the recent gales in September have brought a lot down and shredded many leaves of plants all over the garden. A trip out in the country foraging for my elderberries for a good home brew of elderberry wine was a waste of time as the gales not only blew all the fruit off it also shrivelled up all the foliage. Birds which need a good supply of berries to take them into winter will be in short supply this autumn. Even the cotoneasters have lost a lot of their berries.
Cotoneaster exburiensis
Back home on the allotment autumn raspberry Polka and Autumn Bliss both suffered badly, ruining the crop which still had to ripen, and my grape Phoenix broke in half, but a quick repair job might just work to last a couple of more weeks before harvest. Other outdoor grapes were well tied in, so did not suffer, but they still need a few more weeks for the grapes to sweeten up.
Mahonia mainly grown for an evergreen ground cover and spring scented yellow flowers also fruits very well and this year they seem to be just fine. However my Fuchsia Mrs Popple which normally fruits so prolifically that in some years I have gathered up enough berries for liquidizing into a healthy sweet fruit drink. This year the hot dry summer was not in its favour and I have not seen a single berry from over six large bushes.
Calluna H E Beale
French Marigolds
Flowering plants in October have to be tough, so geraniums which started off with numerous huge flowers in late spring slowly gave up flowering with lack of any vigorous growth in the hot summer sun. They are now bouncing back with good growth and plenty of flowers. Begonias were at their best when the gales arrived blowing off the flowers and shredding a lot of leaves. However French marigolds and Calendula are having an autumn burst of colour, and Calluna H. E. Beale is now in full flower and a gorgeous site. Definitely one of the best heathers for flowers,
Mahonia berries
though once the frosty nights prevail it is the golden foliage of Calluna Goldsworth Crimson that catches your eye. Nerine bowdenii is slowly losing its leaves as the flowers will soon open up with a bright splash of pink. Roses have mostly gone over, but there is always some that flower well into winter.
Apples, pears and plums are now mostly harvested, cleaned up and boxed for storing. However there were too many lost from damage as the gales brought large quantities down. Many bruised and with only slight damage are retained for immediate use in the kitchen as well as prepared for the freezer. Bramley still has half the crop on the tree and Red Falstaff on a dwarf rootstock has survived the gales. They should start to colour up and be ready to pick by mid October.
Dave growing Shark Fin Melons
Autumn leaves will soon be falling. Now is a good time for the final session of weed killing while there is still some warm sunshine, so we go into winter with clean ground. I pick off any big annual weeds for the compost heap then hoe the rest, but on paths I use a spray of glyphosate while it is still legal. It is the only chemical weedkiller left but is under threat so for chemical free gardeners, I’m afraid it is back to the hoe; but just think of the benefits of all that exercise.

Wee jobs to do this week

Shark skin melons have had a great season up at City Road allotments. Someone had bought some seeds and passed the plants around as a trial. They are very vigorous and tend to run riot expanding over the soil at speed unless some pruning is done. They have enjoyed the summer and are now ready for harvesting. It will be very interesting to see who can come up with the best recipe for using the new Shark Skin Melons which are more savoury than sweet.

END

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