Bedding down for winter.
Preparations are now being made for winter with the first hard frosts more frequent. There is still a general round of clearing leaves – and another area too cleared for collecting and storing leaf mould behind the oil tanks by the Little Wood. The leaves have also been cleared out of the guttering in the house where they collect and clog up the system.
Also there is a final cutting back of any left over perennials in the beds as all is now gone over – nepeta along the long beds in the Front garden and Solomon’s seal and astilbe in Pompeian garden. The large hosta behind the Aircraft carrier in the Temple pond has been spilt and replanted in gaps along path to the Siegfried Line. This should now bulk out and identify this area clearly as a planned hosta walk for next year. Generally plans for replanting and renovating beds and other sections of the garden are well underway, with final sowings of autumn seeds (mainly wildflowers), cuttings and found saplings potted up and ready for rehoming in due course. The filled benches of the greenhouses look industrious even at this time of year.
Flag iris has been cut down in areas where it has become very dominant – along the edges of the path from the Metamorphic trellis to the Lochan, along the Lochan edge by the sluice – where it threatens to overwhelm the hard won wildflower area. More will need to be dug out and removed from the loch itself – but that is a job perhaps better planned for when the water is a little warmer.
The gravel path which leads from the Woodland Garden to the Claudi Bridge has been cleared of moss and raked over so that it once again makes a clear and distinct passage between these spaces, and overhanging beaches from the shrubs and trees along the bridge itself have been pruned back.
Bare-root blackcurrant bushes have been ordered – and once they arrive we can decide whether to press ahead with replanting immediately the new serpentine walkway in middle of the Parkland. The old bushes from here can be moved into the Wild garden and Little wood.
The main preoccupation this month though has been starting to lay new stone paths around the very worn sections of compacted grass pathways in the Woodland. This has been completed mainly with materials scavenged from throughout the garden – an old supply of handmade bricks, cobbles and ‘wild’ stones.
There is a new cobble section along the side of the Hortus – one of the entrances to the woodland – this was deliberately built as a raised path so that the areas to either side could be infilled with topsoil and planted with forget-me-nots and dotted with a few cowslips – so a ‘forget-me-not path’ – and a more decorative transition from formal to woodland but still very much in keeping with the original intention.
The worst affected areas in the woodland have always been around the perimeter of the Top pond. These have been dug out and a continuation of the existing brick pathways extended around this area – particularly by the Aqueduct and where the path narrows past the Way-Faring Tree milestone. Along by the head of Apollon Terroriste more cobbles have been bedded in – the hope is that all these areas will grass and moss over in the springtime and soften their appearance while consolidating the effects of wear and tear from continual footfall. Yet another troublesome section is by the entrance through the Hand Grenade gate piers – here too a patchwork of brick sections should solve the problems caused by dark shadow and trampling. The laurel here has also been pruned back to allow more light to filter through.
And the light at this time of year is shortening and passing – there is no more pleasing sight in these days than the frosted filigree pattern of bare branches against a clear pale blue sky. Another aspect of the garden as it beds down for winter.