It’s been a busy start to Autumn.
Last week, Chris Young and I were at the Stamford Arts Centre to give a talk in aid of Marie Curie. I talked about the gardens and its 400 year old history and he talked about being the editor of the world’s largest garden magazine (RHS The Garden.) As you can see he knows how to hold an audience.
Strange, there were plenty of people there when I spoke….:)
Actually, it was a lovely evening, with lots of questions and the dedicated committee raised nearly £2,000 for Marie Curie. We were delighted to have been a part of it.
Then on to Burghley House.
Alexandra, our florist, created a stunning display in the Black and Yellow Room as part of their Shakespearean flower festival. We represented the Hidden England Group with a floral extravaganza based on Othello. What initially seemed like a tall order became a great play to interpret and Alexandra wove meaning and pathos into her beautiful design. As the weather has been so mild, most of the flowers came from our gardens. To be working in natural materials, in an Elizabethan palace next to this extraordinary bed with its intricate embroidery, was deeply life enhancing.
With all my attention focused outside the gardens this week, it was lucky the boys were still hard at it.
The meadows are now cut and are being cleared. The old season is passing and a new one arriving. The hay is bundled into a huge pile to rot down before returning to the gardens as mulch.
In the flower beds, the continuing mild weather has given our late bloomers the chance to show us what they can really do.
Particularly, TITHONIA! When I posted on twitter that we had finally had success with this tender annual there was a certain amount of bemusement. ‘What’s taken you so long?’ asked @UltingWick.
Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’ (see below) likes a sheltered spot, good soil and a mild spring – none of which we could supply when we first started on the garden restoration. Building up the beds by lining them with boards to allow a greater depth of soil has had an impact throughout the gardens. We added large amounts of organic matter, repositioned our late summer plants and here is our reward.
If these fresh colours in the borders and pickery make us feel that the season will go on forever, there are other reminders of change. This creeper (below) needs to be cut to the ground every two years or it will swamp the building. We grow it for the ephemeral display of deep red it gives us now.
Nearer to the ground, Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is making its annual appearance in fine grass. This double flowered variety is particularly good as it tends to flop more elegantly than its single relations.
The ultimate symbol of an Autumn walled garden has to be ripening pears. It’s a waiting game. One misty day they will give off that golden sweetness that tells us, and the late wasps, that they are finally ready. I will probably eat far too many and feel a bit ill. (I hope the wasps do too.)