There’s a bit of an idea that things slowdown in the garden as we go into November. Well I don’t know who suggested this but it certainly isn’t true. There’s still lots to do and we are out at Helmsley every day we can get on the soil. It was pretty wet at the end of October but we work where we can, from the edge of the border if that’s all we can do. We don’t want to stand on the wet soil as it ruins its structure. Soil has a crumb structure; open spaces between soil particles that allow free movement of oxygen. Treading on it compresses it. Soil that has been heavily compressed can become completely waterlogged, and anaerobic. This means the amount of oxygen used exceeds the amount of oxygen available and the soil becomes smelly and well, rancid. It’s a poor growing environment and needs to be avoided.
But there’s no shortage of other jobs to get on with. Pruning and training the currant bushes against the south wall (note to self, bushes at home need pruning too), pruning back the climbing roses on the walls, getting on with pruning the apple trees and perhaps one of my favourite activities of this time of the year, getting stuck into seed and bulb catalogues.
Here at the Garden we are thinking about next spring and summer now. The displays you see in the Orchid House and the bedding around the Dipping Pond and in front of The Vine House Café need planning now so that we can order the seed and bulbs required. For some parts of the garden, such as the Kitchen Garden or the Cut Flower Border we might sow seed of Sweet william now to have a good early display next year.
So we sit in the office and make up mood boards of the different plants that catch our eye. Exclamations of delight – and sometimes of disgust if a plant doesn’t meet the exacting requirements of the garden team – can be heard as all the catalogues are pored over. We have ordered up our tulips for the Orchid House and are now onto thinking about the bedding. For those of you who have been to the Garden this year, the mixture of Dahlia ‘Purple Haze’ and Nicotiana ‘Whisper Mix’ has been a winning combination. One of my favourites around the Dipping Pond has been Dahlia ‘David Howard’. Whopping flowers of the most beautiful bronzy gold and yellow. It looks fabulous en masse in sunshine, but perhaps better still at this time of year it glows on dark days and lifts my heart every time I see it.
So if you haven’t before, why not think of getting some bulbs or maybe growing something from seed for your garden next year. Or just try something new. There’s lots to choose from and lots of advice available. And make sure you come and tell us how you get on. Enjoy your garden.
Tricia Harris November 2017