Monthly garden update: October

As the nights draw in and the leaves fall from the trees, Garden Manager Andrew discusses autumnal challenges.

“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the all.”

‘October’, Robert Frost

October is a rather lovely month to me. Leaves, as mentioned in my choice of poem by Frost, are certainly a feature. They are either something to admire for their changing colours, or quietly cursed for carpeting the lawns as they fall. I sigh whilst I gaze at them fluttering on their branches. I give another sigh when I see they have fallen to the ground – but for very different reasons!

Leaves ripening to the fall

Looking ahead to 2018

At this time of year the plant life finally slows down. One week keeping on top of it all seems a herculean task. Then temperatures drop, daylight is reduced and I feel in control of nature once more! (Impossible I know but I do like to kid myself now and then). As general upkeep tasks become more manageable, my mind wanders to ‘wish lists’ and projects – how can I improve on this year to make next year even better? Could we have new beds and therefore more plants? Can we renovate and rejuvenate some of the ‘tired’ areas that have loped along this year? I carry a notebook and jot down my thoughts, hoping at least some of these will become full blown plans as the winter progresses…

One simple plan that is under development is preparations to grow a lot more Sweet peas for our 2018 season. These are a very popular cut flower with many varieties to try and great for using in the house to delight visitors with their pretty flowers and heavenly scents. We had two rows of summer fruiting Raspberries that unfortunately this year succumbed to disease and had to be dug out at the end of summer. This left me with perfect structures for growing Sweet peas – two lots of three tiers of wire between posts approx. twenty five feet long. By attaching pea netting to these I will have plenty of space to grow the plants up them without having to do too much else in readiness for growing in spring.

Jack ‘o’ Lantern Pumpkin in the veg garden

Farewell to a valued member of the gardening team

This month I’ve said goodbye to one of my part time gardeners, Jenny. She joined us in June on a very part time basis – three hours per week – but she has proven to be invaluable. Jenny was taken on to help keep on top of general maintenance tasks, mostly weeding, for the duration of our open season. She has diligently come week in, week out and really made a difference, despite her short hours. I will miss her being around but hopefully she will return to help next year when we reopen to the public.

Accidents sometimes happen…

The vegetable garden continues to be full of colour thanks to three types of plants: Rainbow Chard, Nasturtiums and Pumpkins. The Nasturtiums have been particularly prolific and covered several areas they weren’t supposed to! I have to put my hand up to a horticultural error on this, not realising until afterwards that I’d sown the trailing variety usually grown in raised beds or hanging baskets so that it hangs down and hides unwanted features! I sowed this direct in the ground thinking it was the type to stay contained and grow upwards…boy was I wrong! But actually it has turned into a happy accident as the effect has been stunning and many visitors have been seen taking photographs of the vegetable area! It’s now going to seed, meaning I will spend a lot of time next year trying to reduce how much grows unintentionally across these beds…

Trailing Nasturtiums

A fruitful relationship with the NGS

We recently held our last open day of this year for the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Although on a cold October day, we had nearly two hundred visitors and we made £572 for the NGS in entry money. This brings our yearly total donations for them to nearly £6000, which I am very chuffed about. Being part of the NGS not only means we contribute to a worthwhile scheme, but it’s also beneficial to us. The popularity of these open days ups the footfall into the house and tearoom, increasing both our supporter numbers and income!

I ran two very busy garden tours on the day – the second one had forty attendees which was fabulous! I love sharing the garden with visitors and I feel they gain so much more by having the garden explained to them. This is certainly a highlight of my job and I shall miss meeting lots of lovely people as we enter our closed season period. Still, roll on next year!

NGS garden tour


Garden Manager