Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Well, autumn did not start for us as poetically as John Keats wrote in To Autumn! 

We had to contend with Storm Ali which battered the UK in September.  Whilst there was little major damage, for which we are very grateful, our wonderful old apple tree was no match for those strong winds. We knew it was only a matter of time but it was still sad to see it so battered.  

As gardeners know it is just such events which have to be looked on as a new opportunity.  A time to replace that tree with something just as lovely, one with beautiful blossom or dramatic leaf colour through the changing seasons.  We have so many ideas it is hard to narrow them down.  

Gardening is very much about looking forward.  So what if those seeds you sowed didn't germinate, start again!  So what if that shrub you planted last season didn't survive the first frost, move on, learn by your mistakes and try again.  Gardening and growing cut flowers as a business is a huge learning curve and I am still learning every day.  

In 2017 for example I purchased, at great expense, about 100 anemones.  I nurtured them, spent far too much time looking at them to persuade them to grow and they did, all 5 of them!  The reason, I watered them too much and the corms rotted.  It is of course infuriating but a lesson nonetheless.  So I now have them all nestled happily in vermiculite waiting for them to put on some growth before planting into their final position.  Here is a photo of them looking rather ugly and slightly scary with their tentacle like roots.  They are just starting to green up which is very exciting.  I shall be pampering them again but not so much this time around and hopefully in a few months I will have the most gorgeous early spring blooms.

The ranunculus are potted up and chitting well.  Last year I didn't follow this simple step and just planted them straight into the polytunnel and the mice had a field day.  I'm hoping that if I let them put on some growth they will be less delectable for the rodent population and save my back planting corms that are never going to germinate.

My tulip bulbs have arrived.  The last conversation I had with myself was to reduce the order from previous years.  Great intentions and all that!  I now have 500 bulbs waiting to go in, the same as last year and the year before that!  They are very easy to plant, dig trench, plant bulbs close together, cover up, wait until April/May and enjoy.  These are not like the tulips in supermarkets, small heads, short stems and only available in red, dirty pink and yellow.  These are very long stemmed, some are scented and all have large heads in a range of stunning colours.  

Seed sowing of hardy annuals to be planted out in the polytunnel for early spring flowers has started.  The biennials are planted out and the first sowing of sweet peas are in their root trainers and have already started to peek through.  Once they have germinated they will go outside under cover until its time for them to be planted out.  They are are very hardy and don't like to be too warm.These will go undercover in the spring and will hopefully flower towards the middle/end of May.  I can't wait!

As know at this time of year there is so much tidying up to get on with, collecting leaves, clearing beds and preparing for sowing again in the spring.  It's non stop but its good to make time to look back at previous seasons and remember what grew well and what didn't and its a good chance to have a rethink.  

The 2018 growing season as been short.  It didn't get off to a good start with polytunnel grown tulips not starting to flower until the end of March/mid April and the garden closing at the beginning of October as the dahlias were frosted and the rest of the flowers going over so quickly.  However, I will keep on sowing, planting, clearing and enjoying the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" and I hope you do too.