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My Garden Journal 2019 – October

Here we are once again delving into my garden journal this time looking at my entries for October, the first real autumnal month. I began by writing, “October tasks, which we have been planning during the time our garden was open for the NGS, began in ernest as the new month begins. We start by clearing the lavender edging to our front garden, where all the plants had become too woody and impregnated with self-seeded perennials and weeds from seeds dropped by tractor tyres. The shrub border behind the line of lavenders also needed a good revitalise.”

Replacing old lavender edging with new and revitalising the border behind.

Giving our mixed hedge a trim.

Resowing grass paths damaged by many visitors’ feet!

 

Revitalising planting in our vintage zinc galvanised tub, and planting miniature asters.

On the page opposite I carried on, “The leaves on trees and shrubs are slowly changing colour at a slower rate than usual.

“Berries are colouring up too, adding extra oomph to our patch, cotoneasters, sorbus, malus and hollies.”

     

Over to the next double page we see photos of colourful flowers of October. I introduced the photos with the words, “October flowers still add plenty of colour to our patch.”

            

And so to the final page of my October entries in my garden journal, where I wrote, “Further into the month grasses and perennials begin to show autumnal colours. Some like the hostas colour up and then turn to mush so we clear their leaves away before they attract slugs. Others remain firm and upright for months.”

That is my journal for October so just 2 months left to report on for this year.

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My Garden Journal 2018 – October

Here we are in October, my 10th visit to my garden journal this year. I love October, with its special rich light and the fire and flame colours of foliage on trees, shrubs and perennial plants alike.

The first words in my October journal were, “With October came our first signs of Autumn, foliage on perennials, shrubs and trees are all colouring up – yellows, oranges and reds. Green is becoming a far less dominant colour.” I have taken lots of colourful photos to share what we can see each time we wander out into our garden.

        

On the next page my photos one of the most colourful of all autumnal shrubs, the deciduous Euonymus, and I wrote, Our deciduous Euonymus are at their best in October, foliage and berries.”

  

Over on the next double page spread and on the following page too, I continued to look at our current projects.

I wrote, Moving on with our project, creating a new border to replace our rather jaded foliage bed, we positioned the plants in pots, moved them around until they looked just right. The planting could then get underway.”

“We decided that for another autumn and winter task we would re-design our Hot Border which was looking a little jaded. This simple decision soon became far more complicated.  We ended up making the bold decision to move the new Hot Garden to a completely different part of our patch. But first we had to finish work on the new bed featured on the opposite page. Bulbs had to be planted and an access path made along the backof the border plus a couple of Liriope muscari needed planting.”

“A selection of bulbs and a few more Carex get planted.”

 

“Ian, our gardener, creates a new acess path for the back of the new border.”

 

“Two Liriope muscari now enjoy their new home.”

Moving on to the next double page spread I share the beginnings of developing the new front border to replace the original Hot Garden. I wrote,“As Ian trimmed our Lavender Hedge, I began stripping out the original Hot Border. As I dug plants up, Jude repotted any we wished to keep, if necessary splitting them up too.”

   

 

The front border soon looked empty and Ian improved the soil by double digging and and incorporating organic compost and forking it all through. It is now easily workable and feels a perfect texture.

On the opposite page to our front border adventures I shared some of my paintings of October seedheads, created using graphite pencil and Japanese water colour brush pens.

I wrote, “When the sun shines bright on a dry October day, its rays catch each delicate seedhead atop the fine stems of perennials. The slightest breeze invite these lightweight beige, bronze, ginger and coffee seedheads to dance.”

The final double page spread brings colour back as we look at what is in flower during the last few days of the month. I wrote, “In contrast to the subtle colours of dried grasses and seed heads our late flowering climbers, shrubs and perennials are so bright!”

    

“Sharp contrasts give the garden added depth as the autumn sum dips lower in the sky.”

 

So we see the end of October with reasonable temperatures holding up and plenty of dry days to get out into the garden and get busy.

 

 

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2017 – October

We can now look at what I wrote about, photographed and painted during October in my Garden Journal.

On the first page of my October Garden Journal I proposed a “fifth season” for us gardeners, a special one just for us  gardeners, but unfortunately I have so far been unable to think up a suitable name. I have spoken to a few other gardeners about this and they understood exactly what I was talking about. See what you think!

“October, the tenth month of the year, but what season is it in? But before I even look at the appropriate season there is some already some confusion over the name October, which derives from the Latin “octo” meaning eight. October was indeed the eighth month in the Roman calendar.

So let me look at the seasons again and consider where October sits. Is it the end of summer, so we can say October is in “Late Summer” or is it the first month of Autumn so then we can identify October being in “Early Autumn”.

I believe that with the changes to our climate and the developments in garden design and the increases in plant availability at this cross-over period we need a fifth garden season, comprising just September and October. Whatever name we could label it by, it would definitely be my favourite season! As for a suitable name? Perhaps we could call it the “Indian Summer” …… unless someone comes up with a fresh name, a more expressive one!”

On the opposite page I chose a few pics to show the special feel of this new season and I wrote, Our Avocet patch looking special and full of atmosphere in its “5th Season”.

Over the page I continued to look at this time in the garden with its special colours in foliage and seed heads.

“Flowers colours are changing as plants begin to form seeds. The new colours are more subtle and perhaps even subdued, but the low light of this month gives them special qualities. Insects still search plants for the final diminishing supplies of  nectar and perhaps a few drops of pollen.”

  

 

“The big show-stoppers of October though are the colours of fire and sunsets that appear as leaves lose their chlorophyl and allow new colours to take over.”

   

Turning over I move away from the garden in autumn and have a look at the changing fortunes of shrubs in our gardens.

“Shrubs are making a comeback in gardening and definitely in our garden. Over the last few years we have been adding many shrubs into our borders to add a layer of interest between trees and herbaceous planting. Garden centres stock only a limited range of common generally dull shrubs most of which have been around for decades. We are lucky to have two nurseries close to us just over the border into Wales close to the town of Welshpool. The Dingle and The Derwen just ten minutes drive apart are owned by the same family and specialise in trees and shrubs. They are our source of  inspiring plants.”

Some shrubs are grown for their dense foliage and growth habit which let us grow them as a hedge. We use our Buxus (Box) shrubs as a hedge we can shape in whatever form we want.”

“Other shrubs we grow for flowers and berries.”

 

Clerodendron trichitoma fargesii, grown for its eccentric flowers and berries. Luma apiculata grown for variegated foliage, coloured stems and white scented flowers.”

 

“Hypericum are grown for stunning flowers and berries. Hypericum inodorum give us yellow flowers and all sorts of  colours of berries.” 

“Roses provide flowers, scent and hips. Mahonia Winter Sun shines with yellow scented flowers in autumn  followed by purple-black berries in the winter.”

My next double page spread features the wonderful miniature shrub Ceratostigma plumbaginoides which I painted with my new set of Japanese brush pens.

I hope you enjoy looking at my paintings as much as I loved creating them.

 

I also chose Ceratostigma plumbaginoides as my plant of the month for October.

 

“Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is a colourful stalwart of the early autumn mixed border, albeit a little diminutive, growing to just 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide. This beauty is a sub-shrub which bears its rich blue blossom from July to November, and as autumn arrives its foliage turns from apple green to rich red.”

For the final page this month I take a look at white in the garden and wrote, “I have never been a fan of white in the garden be it furniture or flowers, but in October I see quite a few plants featuring white have crept in.”

Here are just a few!

    

Next time we pay a visit to my Garden Journal we will be in the penultimate month of 2017, November. I wonder what our eleventh month will bring?

 

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My Garden Journal – October

So here we are with the tenth post in the “My Garden Journal” monthly series highlighting the changes that we see, hear and smell each month in our Shropshire garden at our home “Avocet”. Our garden open days have finished for the year and we have hosted our last visiting group for the year, so we have the garden to ourselves and our wildlife. From April to September we are open on set days and to visiting groups and although we love sharing our garden there is a feeling of letting go a bit once October arrives a sort of end of term feeling.

We will be busy taking hardwood cuttings and potting on those we struck last autumn. Our greenhouse becomes home to our more delicate plants, our Aeoniums, Salvias, and Echeverias. We put up bubble wrap as a cosy duvet for them and put the heating on gently.

My first page in my journal for October refers to the changing light the month brings.

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“Autumn is most definitely with us, its special low light with its own intensity and identity gives the garden its coat of many colours. Sedum give us flowers of pink to purple rising from its succulent leaves. 

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“October began by continuing September’s Indian Summer. We are enjoying blue skies and warm temperatures. Luxuries for the gardeners, who can use these special moments to sit in the sun, drink tea and drink in the colourful richness in every border.”

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My journal moved on to consider the changing colours which is symbolic of this season. The quote I have selected for October from Jenny Joseph also looks at October’s colours.

“The fire that October first brings to me is what has started in September. It is the woods flaming; not terrifying summer fires in some afforested countries, but the fire with no heat, no destruction. The torch that sets fire to our woods, hedges, trees in roads and gardens, blazing through cool damp darkening days is the sap withdrawing. It is a dying that can make us gasp at the intensity and great range of colour.”

In my journal I wrote “All those myriad shades of green that had been acting as foils for the colours of flowers are now coming to the fore. It is their turn to be the stars! As we move into autumn more deeply the green recedes to reveal yellows, oranges and reds. Our Euphorbia griffithii “Fireglow” glows yellow with thin red lines drawn on.”

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“We grow two different varieties of Hamamelis x intermedia, Jelena and Diana, mostly for their bright late winter/early spring flowers but in autumn they give us the same orange and red colours.”

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On the following pages I discuss the birds that visited our garden during October, the Merlin and the Little Owl. I hope you enjoy looking at my coloured pencil crayon drawing as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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“Most of our Summer Migrant birds have left us. Firstly the Swifts and the Cuckoos left us in July and then the Warblers and the sky dancers, Swallows and House Martins.

We have been surprised to spot two birds which until recently would also have flown to warmer climes. Some of our summer visitors now stay with us. Early in October we spotted a male Merlin hunting along the lane from our house, moving and manoevring low to the ground in definite hunting mood.

Recently we heard the call of Little Owls, their piercing sounds were more those of a yapping Terrier than those of an owl.”

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“In our “Secret Garden” we grow a miniature Chestnut, Aesculus mutabilis “Induta”. We forgive it for its ugly name as we love it all year. It gives salmon-pink new foliage in the spring which is followed by upright panicles of pinky-salmon flowers loved by the bees. Flowers are followed by little “conkers”, then in autumn the foliage turns the brightest yellow. When the foliage falls beautiful silvery-grey bark shines through the winter.”

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I featured the seed heads of Phlomis and Acer rufinerve in my journal pages for September. As we move through October more plants produce seed heads worthy of starring roles. Echinops, Eremurus, Eryngium and Crocosmia.”

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November will take us deeper into the autumn which this year is proving to be an exceptionally colourful one.

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Aiming for an all year round garden – our garden in October

We are now into autumn and the trees are looking very undecided about what to do with their leaves. Some trees are already showing their Autumn hues but some are still displaying their summer greens. The wind as usual blows hard in October and snatches coloured leaves off all too early but does make colourful “carpets” beneath.

Off into the garden with camera in hand in a break in the gloomy light I shot a series of photos to give you an idea of what is going on in our garden in October.

I have decided to single out one plant which has started flowering just the last few days whereas its cousins flowered months ago. It is a Toad Lily – Trycirtis hirta variegata. The flowers are much paler than our other varieties of Trycirtis but they do still have the lovely marking typical of the family. Flowering this late does mean though that the flowers are viewed against foliage that is not at its best, with the gold edged variegation looking very faded.

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The best way for me to show you our October garden is probably via a gallery. So please just click on the first shot and navigate with the arrows. And enjoy!

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A Wander around our Garden in October

The tenth post in this series of wanders around our garden already! Just two to go! What shall I do for a monthly garden post instead next year? Any ideas for me?

October started off with days of endless heavy rain but after a fortnight it changed to steady drizzle. A bit of sun would be welcome right now.

The first frosts have visited us forcing us to bring the Aeoniums, Echeverias and our other tender plants under cover. We shall have to keep them safe in the “bubble wrapped” greenhouse, by giving them virtually no water and removing any dry or damaged foliage and when the temperatures drops below -15 C give them additional snug coverings of fleece and bubble-wrap. Another sign of autumn is the log delivery which was tipped off the back of a truck onto our drive mid-month. We sorted them and stacked them around the front door. The wonderfully evocative woody aroma of oak and birch trees mixes with the sweet scents of the woodland floor. The scents of the season.

We visited the gardens at our favourite nursery yesterday, The Dingle at Welshpool, a superb autumn garden on a sloping hillside leading down to lakes. (Look out for my post in the next week or so) As usual we returned with a few acquisitions – a tiny orange Kniphofia, Cornus canadensis and Clerondendron bungeii.

We have planted the Kniphofia with a trio of bronze-leaved grasses and near to our darkest blue Agapanthus. As the “poker” is flowering now, its head of tubular orange flowers glows alongside the Agapanthus’ developing seed heads of blue and pewter.

Sometimes autumn hues aren’t just provided by deciduous trees changing the colours of their leaves but by foliage on perennials, grasses and shrubs. Euphorbias are a fine example, as are grasses which have the added bonus of seed heads. Look out for the pic of our Pentstemon Huskers Red which always surprises with its deep red autumn explosions.

But amongst all this red hot foliage we mustn’t lose sight of the flowers that continue to add colour to the garden. There are now fewer so each one is a precious jewel.

I shall finish off with a few pics of autumn coloured leaves, just what you expect in October! And then take a look at one border and take a walk down just one of our many grass paths.