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  • Writer's pictureDebi Holland

Autumn Newsletter

Hi there Gardeners – the days are getting shorter and the autumn is drawing in. Unfortunately the temperature is gradually dropping and the day length reducing, all signs of the change in season.

Leaves are on the turn but open up a whole new palette of colour from gold, to orange and through to red.

A spectacular tree this time of year is Rhus typhina – Stagshorn Sumach; radiant red and orange leaves ignite in the autumn light. Show stopper!

Rhus typhina - Stagshorn Sumach

Strawberry tree Arbutus unedo, is also in full swing with its beautiful strawberry-like fruits, which hang like baubles and delicate white flowers. An enchanting tree to add autumn interest to the garden.

And the fabulous violet jewel-like berries of Callicarpa really sparkle at this time of year.

The summer months were crammed full with gardening, horticultural talks, visits and holidays. Here are some of the highlights…

RHS Open Day at Jekka McVicar’s Herb Farm

5 August 2017 Jekka opened her Herbetum to showcase her amazing collection of herbs for an RHS members open day with all proceeds going to the RHS Apprenticeship scheme.

Jekka McVicar - Herbetum Open Day

Thoroughly enjoyed an informative guided tour by Jekka and also by her son and daughter.

Great advice on the medicinal benefits of herbs and the best mints for tea! There was an enormous choice and some rare varieties. There was plenty of time after the tours to wistfully peruse all the herbs at our leisure. The only dilemma... how to choose?!

I could not resist increasing my herb collection with French Tarragon, East Indian Lemongrass and Lemon Verbena.

Check out her inspiring herb farm and future events on her website:

Studying wildflowers at altitude in the French Alps

Had a fabulous trip to the Rhone Alps in August, plant finding and photographing wildflowers at altitude. I am fascinated in seeing how resilient these tough little alpines are. Growing in extreme conditions with only half the year escaping the cover of snow.

The wild meadows are a mecca for bees, grasshoppers and butterflies – absolutely prolific with wildlife and a testament to biodiversity and non-chemical planting; nature allowed to roam free.

A more in depth post will follow on the huge range of flora I discovered on my trip.

New edition to our family

Meet Dicksonia antarctica or as we like to call him ‘Dicky’ the Tasmanian Tree Fern.

Very proud to have such a statuesque fern in the garden, it really does make a great focal point. This stunning evergreen displays lush foliage which is easy to look after. The crown and trunk need to be kept moist so water from the top to ensure they do not dry out. The base is planted in humus rich, neutral to slightly acidic soil which provides a solid anchor for the tree. They love a shady sheltered spot.

They are very slow growing at approximately 2.5cm per year so make sure you think about size when buying as it will take many years to gain height. If purchasing tree ferns make sure it comes from a certified source. The fern should have a certificate attached to the trunk.

Late October signifies the time to fold in the fronds and wrap in horticultural fleece as protection against winter frosts. Put to bed till Spring.

Visit to Bishops Palace Gardens

Fabulous trip to Bishops Palace gardens in Wells with members of our RHS Horticulture group who studied at Cannington. One of our group actually works at Bishops Palace so was able to give us an in depth guided tour.

Inspiring community garden, orchard and allotments are complimented with an extensive collection of plants in the formal beds. The gardens are home to resident artist Edgar Phillips whose sculptures can be found throughout the grounds.

Particularly enjoyed the Bishop’s dahlia garden…and so did the bees and butterflies! Well worth a visit.

Garden Visits and Horticultural Talks

• 17 July 2017 Fagus talk by Jekka McVicar ‘Herbs are more than just a garnish.’

• 5 August 2017 RHS Open Day at Jekka McVicar’s Herb Farm.

• Various hikes observing plants: Pen Y Fan, Sugar Loaf mountain, Glastonbury Tor.

• Summer spent in the French Alps. Researching plants found at altitude.

• 18 September 2017 Fagus talk by Ken Thompson ‘Some Modern Garden Myths’

• 29 September visited Bishops Palace, Wells with Cannington RHS Horticulture group.

Not sure what you should be doing in the garden this time of year?

See my gardening jobs post for October to take us from autumn to winter. Many tasks are transferable between months and can be carried out as and when weather and time permits.

Happy gardening!


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