That time of year again (always getting to it later than I would like) when the pencil and paper come out and I’m playing with bulb combinations in the picking beds. There’s not a lot to it but do need to take into account flowering times, colour matches, height and succession.
I’ll be placing the order this week and then be planting right up until mid December; beginning with daffs and putting in Tulips last.
Collecting apples this year was fun. Despite the meadows still being up in the orchard -a complication frustratingly owing to faulty machinery- the picking was easy. Our apple trees were planted about 5 years ago, comprising old varieties grafted as standards; the specifics of which are sadly omitted from any planting records I have managed to locate. The harvest this year was nothing short of a bumper; so much so that I have been filling small packets of mixed varieties for friends for the last few weeks, and I know other fortunate apple tree possessors have had a similar experience.
This Autumn brought a period of relief in the garden; where for brief moments the rain stopped and the clouds dissipated and the season behaved in the manner in which we all hoped it would. Given that we lost out on an entire Autumn last year; when the leaves seemed to reach the ground before they had a chance to turn, together with a closely following warm Winter and wet Summer, the colours we’ve had this time round have been all the more welcome. It’s safe to say that, in those rain-free moments, the Autumn show this year has been incredible. All up and down the country the views from September have been impressively rich in reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Beeches, poplars, oaks, hazels, hawthorns and, perhaps most significantly, the Acers (sycamore, norway and field maples etc) all formed dramatic impressions along the landscape.
At the garden back in Richmond our beacon has been the huge Norway maple overlooking the top meadow. Over the last couple of months from it’s initial gradual turn to the last few leaves to drop, I’ve been stunned by the impression it’s made on the garden. My notebook is full with the detailing of these changes, and at its peak in mid morning sun low over the field, the tree literally glowed as if the light came from within. The yellow of the Norway maple in Autumn is really quite remarkable, and has made me stop and look many, many times while at work in the garden.
Although invariably a favourite of every other gardener, Cerinthe has only more recently become a plant I enjoy growing. It takes quite a while to get going and only really fills it’s allotted space by early Autumn, but once it has, the long drooping stems pay back their return in abundance – and make an ideal filler in a cut flower mix. I saved a handful of the last stems before composting the now enormous bulk of Medusa-like clumps. The foliage is very similar to that of the Sedums, the small flowers like comfrey or Pulmonaria.
Reached that time of year again when, irrespective of the weather, I’m doing nothing but planting bulbs. Our annual order arrived last week, containing over 1,000 tulips and around 4,ooo daffodils, as well as a fair handful of others including Muscari, Alliums, Snowdrops, Iris’ and early flowering gladioli. I’ve had a helping hand for a few days with getting the daffs in earlier than the others, most of which are now planted, thankfully. So from now until December I’ll be pushing on with the tulips – getting them lined out in the picking beds and spreading them round the main borders and pots.