Monday, 24 September 2012

Autumn arrives ...


Only wood that cannot be recycled is burned - but not wasted
for the wood-ash is full of beneficial potash

We expect equinoctial gales to accompany the onset of Autumn, but it arrived here in the north Cotswolds with glorious sunshine and time to hack back some of the wilderness; for I have for one reason and another been unable to do much in the garden over the last few months. 

“Now is the time for the burning of the leaves. 
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke 
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist.” 

So wrote poet, Laurence Binyon’, just after the second world war. Burning leaves is a waste of future nourishment – far better to turn them into leaf mould by creating a leaf-bin from wood or four posts surrounded by wire netting. Or simply stuff them into a biodegradable leaf sack and store behind the shed. We recycle all we can - shredding branches to cover paths; logs go into the grate for household warmth. The rest is composted or burned.

Actually, the poem was in a way allegorical; new beginnings. And isn’t that what gardening is all about? Clearing away what is spent – recycling wherever possible, and planning for the year ahead. Of all the blog-posts written since I began this ‘Gardening Companion’ in January 2011, the post that has attracted the most ‘hits’ as been the one on crop rotation. Take a look at it again HERE and begin your plans for 2013 in time for ordering from the forthcoming Dobies catalogue which will shortly be available.

Planted now, these bulbs will bring fragrance and joy in early Spring
My Dobies bulbs have just arrived and I am busily planting them in pots to sit by our back door, where they will bring continual joy. There is no need to use bulb-fibre if your pot has drainage holes, but crock them well, use an all-purpose compost, adding some over the crocks, and plant the bulbs to twice their own depth; cover with more compost and top with a plentiful supply of grit to protect them from slugs and blackbirds who love to ferret and will uproot them. No need to place in the dark unless the pots are to be forced for indoor use.

Grit helps to protect the emerging bulbs from slugs and snails
September was always the time when I booked into some sort of weekly workshop to extend my skill and knowledge on a particular subject. This was invariably on art and today, with the rain streaming down the window, I plan to start a self-study course without even leaving the house! ‘Draw Flowers’ by Anne Pieper provides step-by-step instructions to drawing not only flowers but seedheads and leaves, using very simple tools – pencils and watercolour crayons. Published in 2010 by Search Press, it also offers an ingenious technique for assessing shapes as the starting point for a sketch. Perfect for anyone wanting to keep a garden journal. Click on the link above for more details, and to buy it from Amazon.

'Somerset Pride' - inspiring show garden at the 2011 Malvern Autumn Show
(image copyright TCAS)
More inspiration on what we can do in and with our garden is always likely from visits to gardens and gardening shows. I posted details last week of the Malvern Autumn Show which takes place in a few days time (Sat 29th and Sun 30th September). I directed readers to the Show website – here it is again, and also added more details on my Traveller’s Tales blog. This has since been updated with more Show delights. And this coming weekend, I’ll be at the Malvern Show, blogging live from the Press Office, seeking out intriguing gardens and activities for all those readers who are unable to visit themselves.

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