5 Oct 2014

It's Autumn, but not as we know it.


The late Christopher Lloyd, renowned for his fabulous borders at Great Dixter, adopted a practise of taking a morning stroll around the gardens each day with his head gardener to discuss the plan of action for the day. It's a great habit to get into as often the garden itself will suggest what needs to be prioritised.

A few days ago, I went to the garden here intending to take photos for the blog. Three happy hours later I'd got photos, staked up some flopping raspberry canes, lifted (chucked) piles of overgrown nasturtiums that were shading herbs, pruned some lavender that was becoming a tripping hazard on the path, dug out some horseradish, weeded around the broccoli and cut off some old courgette leaves to make the space more manageable. I also cut back leaves to allow the tomatoes to put energy into ripening the remaining trusses and found that one of the Sungold plants had gone rotten half way up the stem so I was able to cut the plant down and save those tomatoes to make a green tomato chutney.


I'm wondering what possessed me to put rhubarb, courgettes, globe artichoke and nasturtiums in this tiny space! Lush, though, isn't it?

That still left me with a bit of a jungle down one end of the veg patch - and the realisation that with Linaria (the plant edging the path, above) you most definitely can have too much of a good thing. (It's self seeded into every crack and corner in the veg patch but the bees love it.)  I was also then able to look at the garden with a fresh eye this morning when I took another walk round with my neighbour Karen who helps out and also gardens the border under her window. Friday is our community gardening day, when time permits.


What we saw was new spring growth all around: new raspberry canes, poppies flowering having completely regenerated in the past month, same with the globe artichoke, the rhubarb leaves are now as big as a gunnera with no sign of dying off, the nasturtiums have formed a river of flowers down the path and even the cowslip is in flower (usually not seen until March).  Karen reports that her daffodil bulbs are starting to sprout. While this is all utterly delightful, it shows that we can't rely on the plants knowing which season they're in; it would seem their seasonal clocks have been thrown off the beat by the chillier weather of a few weeks back, now replaced by warm t-shirt weather in early October.  Better make sure to have some horticultural fleece ready when the frosts do come!


In other news, I'm still harvesting a few raspberries, courgettes, tomatoes, radishes, salad onions, salad leaves, spinach and a few beans. The bean leaves are looking very tired so some of the beans have been cut down (roots left in the soil so the nitrogen fixing nodules can return nutrients to the soil) and any remaining pods on the others will be allowed to grow into seed beans for next year.  These are the Canadian Wonder beans that I really didn't think would amount to much this year but have done wonderfully well once protected with anti-slug wool pellets.

Sugar snap peas sown at the end of summer are now flowering so pods won't be far behind. The yellow sunflowers are finished and I'll harvest some of the seeds to shell and add to salads.  The others will be left for the birds.

Yellow Pear tomatoes, Sugar snap peas, Cherriettes of Fire tomatoes
Polka raspberries, physalis, courgettes

The brassicas (broccoli, kale, romanesco cauliflowers) are growing really well, as are the chard and beetroot. I wonder if this is due to the wool pellets around them - they help keep the slugs at bay but also leech nutrients into the soil when it rains and as they decompose. Hopefully this bodes well for early and late winter veg. The photo above reminds me that this lovely extended summer encouraged the physalis to reflower in early September; providing the pods ripen, I can greedily anticipate another two dozen Cape Gooseberries before the year ends! Oh, okay, I'll share.

Thanks to the warm, and sometimes wet, weather, there's still a rainbow of colour throughout the York Rise gardens. I particularly love the chinese plumbago (Ceratostigma willmottianum) - I'm drawn to its startling blue flowers every time I pass, especially as it sits next to the salmon coloured pelargonium 'Pink Needles', an amazing colour contrast.

Sunflower, Impatiens giganteum, pineapple sage
Blackcurrant sage, scabious, pelargonium 'Pink Needles'
Verbena bonariensis, calendula, violet
Anemone, borage, plumbago
And let's not forget the roses; there are so many more than this but you get the idea ;)



I honestly didn't think I'd have anything to write about this month but, actually, it's all come right and been rather special. Heavy rain is forecast for the next few days but, for now, me and my garden are in a good, good place.

May October be kind to us all.  Caro xx

Jobs for October:
Keep on top of weeding
Clear plants as they die off
Sow seeds in pots for early spring flowers
Get ready to fleece on cold nights!

Linking up with the Garden Share Collective over in Australia.  If you want to see what's growing on in other parts of the world, pop over to Lizzie's blog for all the links.

40 comments:

  1. Our Inca berries that look like your cape gooseberries (maybe different names for the same thing) have only produced empty lanterns.

    As for the nasturtiums they will be strictly weeded out next years as in places they have been invasive weeds,

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    1. Yes, definitely the same thing Sue. Physalis peruviana have many names, Cape Gooseberry, Inca berries, ground cherries being but a few. Your comment made me go and gently squish the lanterns on the plant, there's definitely berries inside but it's a waiting game to see if they ripen. I've already had several pickings from this bush. It's sited in bright sunshine (when available). As for nasturtiums, I thought I had weeded out most of them!

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  2. I've got cowslips flowering too. We've had a beautiful day today, hard to believe that we're in to autumn and that winter is on the way. I only managed two sunflowers this year, the slugs took the rest, so I shall leave their heads for the birds.

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    1. I weeded out loads of sunflowers, Jo, and replanted several others as last year they were a bit of a nuisance. The slugs had a feast on them here too which is a shame, I do like to see their cheerful yellow flowers. Luckily I had a few that were spared.

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  3. The recent rain, along with the still mainly mild temperatures, has confused a lot of the plants. I took down my Runner Beans today, and I saw that they had lots of new growth, even a few new sprouts at ground level. You still have a lot of nice colour in your garden!

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    1. Yes, my bush beans had lots of new growth too - and even a few beans, yumyum - but the task of clearing out the old has to progress, albeit reluctantly. Yes, the colour is still there and I didn't even show the nasturtiums, echinaceas, geraniums, pink heucheras and astilbe!! Or the Hebe shrub which is massive! (One of the joys of gardening in a huge space)

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  4. Wow, so much colour still. I haven't seen daffodils yet, but do have a hellebore in flower and as far as I know it's not an autumn flowering variety. The season seems to be well and truly jumbled up. I love that pelargonium 'Pink Needles'.

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    1. Daffodils in autumn really would be a topsy turvy world, Jessica! At least the hellebores aren't flowering here although I've seen them flowering all year round in the gardens at Capel Manor. (Patty's Plum, I think.) I love the look of that geranium too, it's more of a salmon pink in reality but the petal shape is unusual.

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  5. May October be kind to us all indeed! Had if not for the text just by looking at your photos it would have been easy to presume that they were taken in the middle of summer. Loving your jungley veg plot btw :)

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    1. Lol! Thought you might like the jungle effect! So do I, but it does get challenging trying to pick herbs the other side of the rhubarb!

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  6. Yes, the garden's seasons are out of kilter here too, Caro. I have an enormous lupin flowering away in the garden. I only planted it this year when it was a tiny plant. It seems to like its new home as its ginormous now. It's apple harvesting season here - trying to get them in before they become windfalls!

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    1. It's bizarre, isn't it! I had hollyhocks starting to re-flower but recent storms have quietened everything down. I could have done with a bit more sun for a second flush of physalis fruits to ripen. I'd love to know what you're going to do with all your apples - are they the type that store or is a marathon kitchen session in the offing?

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  7. "Keep on top of weeding" - hmm, what if I'm not on top of it yet... Lovely photos today Caro, I really like the second one, it does indeed look incredibly lush. My artichokes were cut down, but they're back up now and growing like crazy. I absolutely love the colour of that sunflower, the dark red ones are my favourites. I think I shall grow some of them next year. I had bronze ones this year that were nice, I'm slightly less fond of the yellow ones. I hope you have a good week. CJ xx

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    1. Haha, I was speaking optimistically, CJ! I'm afraid I'm not keeping up at all with the weeding, but just have to pluck a few out when I see them (otherwise I'd be there all day!). My yellow sunflowers were all over too quickly this year whereas the little red ones have done really well. Definitely going back on the list for next year. C xx

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  8. Wasn't September just fabulous Caro? :) Linaria does certainly seed itself about but count your blessings - the pink is not as prolific in its progeny as the purple. Your tiny space looks full with colour, interest and happy and healthy plants. I've not noticed much in the way of plants being ahead of themselves yet although I've spotted some unusual behaviour such as my 'Cobra' beans setting a second flush of flowers. As for the courgettes they go on and on and on .......

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    1. I'm writing at the end of a very wet week, Anna, and September seems like a distant and beautiful memory! Good grief, I'm glad I haven't got purple linaria, the pink variety is bad enough! The stuff is everywhere! It's tempting to consider how things would be if we really did have a warmer winter ahead of us - a total rethink would be in order!

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  9. I'm not alone in leaving self seeded linaria well alone, then? I generally start my day with a walk around the garden too - it does allow me to focus on what really needs to be tackled. Your garden looks incredibly lush, Caro.

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    1. No, David, you're not alone. I do pull a few self-seeders out but the ones that I leave make the garden look as though I've done loads of energetic planting, heh heh.

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  10. Crazy weather isn't it, no wonder there is confusion in the plant world! Your patch is looking wonderful Caro, glad I am not alone in finding some self seeders impossible to remove. Interesting to read that you planted some sugarsnaps late on, I did too, not really expecting anything from them, but they are beginning to produce, something to remember for next year. Mildew has done for my courgettes, but I am still picking beans and the raspberries, though less prolific now, are still delicious. I must find a better way to tame them though...

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    1. I wasn't really expecting anything much from late planted veg, Janet, but have had radishes, salad leaves and chard. A few pea pods have formed and, yes, my largest courgette and my beans are looking very sorry for themselves now. I'm also considering how to tame the raspberries and yet keep the fruit accessible …

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  11. Your garden (and photography) are gorgeous. It all looks so lush and productive. Here in South Australia it's already hot, windy and dry, which doesn't bode well for summer.

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    1. Hello Kate, lovely to meet you and to be introduced to your blog. I love your mix of recipes and gardening; it's a good read, especially as your spring and summer are looming and ours is fading (rather too quickly for my liking!) Thanks for your lovely comment, hope you get a decent summer in Adelaide; it so hard when the weather is against you.

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  12. A most enjoyable post and lovely photos. Also, considering the time of year, a rather unseasonal one.
    It's all looking good, but I've no doubt that it'll change all too quickly in the coming weeks, which is a shame. Flighty xx

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    1. Flighty, I'm responding to comments a week on from when they were left (heavy cold stopped play) and your prediction has proved very accurate - lots of wind and rain has pushed us firmly into autumn. Still, it was good while it lasted! Caro xx

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  13. The summer has seemed to stretch on this year... until today anyway, definitely cold and wet enough to be autumn. Your garden is still looking very summery though, with all that colour. I love your first photo - ladybirds are one of my favourite bugs in the garden!

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    1. The cold and wet weather finally reached us this week but I've refused to put the heating on yet! With all the grey skies here at the moment, I'm so thankful for colour and greenery, even if there's very little veg left to pick - the last of the tomatoes were gathered this past week. So agree about ladybirds, there's something so endearing about them, although I'd love some dragonflies too!

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  14. What a colourful and productive post - still loads going on in your garden. I have seen hardly any ladybirds this year funny how things go in cycles isn't it. My garden clear up is well underway although it has definitely turned colder here - just a few more warm days please so I can finish.

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    1. Thanks, Elaine, I hope that there will be stuff going on throughout the winter in the garden as I remembered to grow some brassicas this year! It's all started to look a bit ropey this past week but the nasturtiums, love em, are still going strong and so beautiful! Hope you had time to finish up your tidy - I got drenched half way through the start of my tidy up!!

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  15. I am amazed at how well your veg, flowers and roses are doing, btw, I do really like that blue rose.....
    I agree with you that there is some confusion, I have iris bulbs shooting up and even some crocus, that is rather weird, and now the sunshine has gone and the rain, wind and colder temperatures are here....yes, we need to beware and fleece.xxx

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    1. The blue rose is unusual, isn't it? I didn't plant it, all the roses were here when I moved in, but I do prune the roses if they're looking in need. I think the blue rose may be Blue Moon or something similar. It's a lilac colour, looks lovely in a vase with pale yellow roses…

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  16. i do so love the idea of starting the day with a wander thru the garden with one's head gardener. First job: find myself a head gardener. what a wonderful scenario. i shall drink tea and supervise the physical labour :-)
    it's lovely to see your abundant garden, and you have reminded me now to sow some coneflowers for companion planting. thank you for the lovely look around, and the inspiring (head gardener) thoughts.

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    1. Ah, you're welcome e/dig, I love to see the gardens of the GSC and the progress month by month. For the past week, many of my days have started with torrential rain and grey skies which makes a wander round less appealing! In the summer though, the only thing that would improve my walk is being able to have a ramble at dawn in my pyjamas, something that I can't do at the moment, living in a flat in London!! Coneflowers are a lovely addition to the garden, the bees love them. I'll look forward to seeing your garden in your summer/our winter. xx

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  17. Lovely pictures of your garden is still looks so productive and colourful. I like to wander around the garden first thing in the morning too in the warmer months. Sarah x

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. It's a lovely peaceful way to start the day although then I want to stay in the garden and not go to work! I'm looking forward to seeing how your new garden develops, morning walks will be on the agenda again come next summer. Caro xx

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  18. Everything looks wonderful, Caro. Yes I see your yellow pear tomatoes. Glad to see them all, :)

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    1. Hello, Yang, thank you and welcome to my blog. I'll be popping over to say hello on your blog, too!

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  19. I spotted a hellebore in flower the other day. Slightly odd weather but I'm not complaining. I'd much rather the inevitable is put off for as long as possible. I really should adopt that walk around the garden idea rather than shuffling to the computer - would be a much better start to the day. Some gorgeous colour there. I'd love a blackcurrant salvia. I saw one in the nursery at Powis castle a few years ago but resisted. Perhaps next year. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

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    1. I was spoiled as a child with warm winters in the tropics - swimming on christmas day, even! I wouldn't mind if the blue skies of summer slowly became the crisp clear days of winter without all this nonsense of autumn in between. I'd still want the autumn colour of course but without the wet and wind! I bought the blackcurrant sage as a tiny plant in 2013 and it had taken on monstrous proportions within a month or two; classically, I forgot to read the label and assumed it would behave as normal sage and make a small clump - it makes a lovely shrub though! Hope you're not waterlogged up in Wales, the weather has been dreadful!

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  20. You have been busy. I like the idea of a morning stroll around the garden, we do ours in the afternoon when the shade has come over and its cooling down for the night. More pleasant than the mornings. Your garden does look very lush and producing some yummy looking tomatoes too.

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    1. Ah yes, I love an evening walk as well, Lizzie - that's when I go to see what I can pick for my dinner! Gosh, I wouldn't mind a bit of heat in the garden at the moment, the weather here has been pretty wild in the past week. I'll have to content myself with walking round some Aussie gardens! The tomatoes were good this year - makes me wish I had more growing space!

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Caro x

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