Sunday 16th October 2022 – turning point

I’ve actually managed to sleep in a little tiny bit later than usual for the last few days and I feel less stressed and burnt out – consequently, I have had more energy for gardening, and in itself that has made me feel better too. The bright sun was too good to waste today, especially with grey skies in the distance, so all indoor work got postponed to another day and off I dashed to the garden. The Under-Gardener stayed resolutely indoors, though, anxiously watching to see whether Chief Engineer intended to leave him on his own with the Head Gardener yet again. The Under-Gardener finds any splitting of the pack incredibly vexatious.

Every gardener will have certain tasks that, for them, symbolise the shift from Summer to Autumn and for me it’s chopping down and binning the tomato plants. This year’s plants performed well. I’m a lot more relaxed about growing tomatoes these days. I used to fret about blight, now I accept it as a ‘when-not-if’ event and grow only early fruiting varieties or ones that I know will resist blight up to a point. this paid off this year, with plants getting affected but fruit remaining mostly unscathed. The plants have fruited admirably and indeed continue to do so, but I need to start clearing up and making space for cold frames and other over-wintering arrangements, so the tomato plants need to go. I was surprised to find so many fruits remaining: not sure whether to try to ripen these up (I generally find that, given long enough with a ripe banana, all tomatoes will ripen eventually) or perhaps I’ll make a very small amount of green tomato chutney, always so welcome with a Christmas cheese board? Decisions, decisions…

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had a leguminous year in the veg patches this year. Here’s a selection of my beans for drying and storing. I don’t recall planting anything that looked like the pretty bi-coloured ones on the right: I did sow a few seeds saved from last year, could these be some strange cross-breed I have created myself, by accident? I rather like their half/half look, anyway. The Greek gigantes at the bottom are interesting. The smaller ones are from the first sowing, which yielded more pods than the later sowing, but much smaller beans (as you can see!) The real pleasure in the gigantes is for them to be – well – gigantes, so I think this tells me I need to sow later, space plants better and give them a sunnier, more sheltered spot, for the biggest and best beans. Pfffft, they don’t ask for much, do they? They are so incredibly tasty that I shall persist, nonetheless.
This rose has several flushes through the year and keeps going up to the first frosts. I love it. I suspect it is a sucker from a parent bush next-door. The house next door has recently sold… I do hope the parent doesn’t get uprooted. Actually, that’s a salutary reminder to take cuttings…
A neighbour very, very kindly gave me a large number of robust strawberry plants (and a taster of the fruit, too – large sweet fruit that do not compromise on flavour in pursuit of size.) Since all my plants had succumbed to a virus, this is timely – a new bed, with adequate spacing and longer hours of direct sun, is one of the autumn/winter projects.
Like cosmos, tithonia is one of those things I find a right old faff to raise from seed every year, but still I do it, and I am always glad I bothered.
Clematis armandii looked very poorly, and I heard Christine Walkden on Gardener’s Question Time describe it as a ‘big, gutsy, hungry plant’. I gave it a good feed with some slow release feed and a heavy mulch with garden compost and it bounced back, even putting out multiple new shoots. These have now been tied into the pergola. I just hope the pergola stays up: I fear it’s a far from expert build (and no, we didn’t build it ourselves!)
This is an enigma: can anyone help? This birdbath was made by simply Gorilla-gluing a glazed plant saucer to the base, which we found in the garden when we moved in. I’m enormously fond of it, because I love kitsch. And it’s certainly that. This year, unlike all previous years, it simply will not hold water for any length of time – I end up topping it up daily. I’ve seen blackbirds, magpies and crows emptying it with vigorous bathing from time to time, but I don’t think that’s what’s doing it on the daily. Could it be that the glaze is crazed and the water is gradually seeping away through tiny cracks? If so,wouldn’t it take longer than a day? I am mystified. Can I seal it with anything? I suppose I could sit a plastic saucer inside the glazed ceramic one, but it would not look very nice…
I’m always at home to clashing colours but the pinky-purple of the shorter asters alongside the peachy pink tones of dahlia ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is too much even for me. These poor asters get moved every year. They are very forgiving about it. I have found their colour strangely hard to place in amongst the more usual autumn tones. Somehow, it just doesn’t please my eye in the way the darker, taller aster ‘Helen Picton’ does, but it flowers so enthusiastically that I feel a bit mean complaining about it.
After repeated attempts to raise passion fruit seedlings by mucking about with the seeds (soaking, fermenting, scoring, sanding…) to no avail, I decided I’d just scoop the insides of a fruit onto some compost and dump more compost over the top. I now have a ridiculous number of seedlings but I suspect they’re all too small to make it through the winter. They’re incredibly slow growing… I suppose at this puny size I can always bring one or two into the house to over-winter!
Salvia Amistad has had its best year ever. I’ve failed to take any cuttings and I think it’s a bit late now. I’ll do as usual and lift the whole thing for the winter soon. It doesn’t mind the cold too much but the combination of cold+wet seems to do for it, so I had better make space in the greenhouse, asap.
This extremely contrary courgette has chosen now to start producing. I am thee only gardener I have ever known not to experience a glut of courgettes. It is beyond infuriating.
This acidanthera is wholly unremarkable to look at but smells divine. As another thing that needs overwintering in the greenhouse, though, I’m not entirely sure it’s completely worth the effort it requires…
I should have done a before and after shot here. This weekend, meuhlenbeckia has been my nemesis. This one was making a break for it under the fascia and encroaching under the fibreglass roof…. I took it in hand just in time, I think. It’s had a stern clipping and now the bits and bobs on the wall can be seen again, as can the light. I keep it because it is utterly bomb-proof, but that does mean it’s a bit of a thug. I have seen it trained on wire forms and clipped into topiary shapes, much like box. In a garden in Funchal, Madeira, I have even seen it coaxed into some incredibly suggestive shapes, resembling… erm…’the male form’. I am not sure why anyone would want to do that in a formal garden, but it certainly made me (and my mother, and Chief Engineer) laugh. I don’t think I’ll try that at home, though.
The artichokes have been lifted from in amongst the flower border, to a site all of their own, with better sun. The crop was disappointing this year and Bob Flowerdew asssures me that plants grown in a mixed flower border look atchitectural but always under-perform. I want them for the chokes, so they will have to have their own space. There’s far too many here and I have, as usual, planted too densely. Oh well, let’s see what happens… they can have a nice mulching of horse manure for the winter, too.
The Under-Gardener has not felt very outdoorsy today and he’s not feeling very bookwormy this evening, either.

Published by Notes from the Under-Gardener

Keen amateur gardener, tending a large home garden growing flowers, fruit and veg, ably supported by husband and dog.

7 thoughts on “Sunday 16th October 2022 – turning point

  1. What a fabulous garden you have—so plush with treasures. I love seeing what all is happening there! It’s a good question about the birdbath, but I have to say that the birds in mine splash an amazing volume of water out of them. Especially the larger birds like crows. Maybe they’ve just taken note of your kind offering and have started using it regularly! I have a drip irrigation hose that tops up my fountain every day because they splash so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! Maybe it is the crows and magpies – the magpies are particularly exuberant bathers! 😂 I had to stop putting out bird food due to rats and squirrels (or tree rats, as I call them) but I find that providing water brings in a huge range of birds and there is enough forage in the garden for them anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How funny about the magpies! That does sound like their character. I have the same strategy with the birds. I supply several bathing and watering places, but no food, other than the plethora of plants and trees that provide for them. They seem quite happy and plentiful! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My courgette was particularity huffy this year and is only producing fruit now, perhaps the summer didn’t suit them. I love all the other plants growing in your garden. I experiment with what will grow and what I can nurture from almost any plant.

    Liked by 1 person

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