The time of seed catalogues, bare root roses and forward planning

The garden has finished its exuberant display of flowers, it is no longer filled with the melodic droning of bees and you have cut back the growth of spent perennials. The air is filled with the satisfying scent of Autumn bonfires and the compost bins are completely full of the ingredients of future compost, that in itself is an investment in the future. The Winter months, when nothing is growing in the garden, presents some opportunities for the gardener. It is a time when you can reflect on the last 3 seasons and cast a critical eye on your own garden and you can look forward to next years garden, for now is the time of the seed catalogue and the bare root season is upon us for shrubs, trees and roses. So crack open a bottle of wine sit-back, relax and peruse those catalogues and websites, one word of caution though, never place orders when the wine bottle is almost empty. If you ever wondered why you ordered so much of that seed you will perhaps know what I mean. I have enough Delphinium seeds to start a national collection.

The smell of Autumn bonfires

There is nothing so distinctive as the smell of an autumnal garden bonfire, the smell is unique and reminiscent of childhood days and of grandparents. Once the Perennials have been cut back and the beds mulched and manured, the produce harvested and preserved, the onions dried and stored, the pumpkins hardened off, the final ritual awaits, the burning of what cannot be eaten or composted. However, if you have the space please don’t forget to leave some habitats for insects and hedgehogs to over Winter under. The future resides in our hands and in moving away from chemical solutions to sustainable garden ecosystems. I always start a small bonfire and add material to it, in this way it is easier to contain and you do not roast any unsuspecting wildlife.

Manuring, Mulching and compost bins

We are lucky enough to have a large garden and it produces enough garden waste to feed our compost piles. We don’t have constructed compost bins, we have huge piles that decompose over a 3 year period and they produce fantastic compost that we sieve and use in the garden. If you have a smaller garden space then you can buy or construct smaller Compost bins or cages, you need 3 for the process to be effective. In the first year you fill the first bin, the next year you move the compost from bin 1 to bin 2, the process helps with the breaking down of the garden waste and in the 3rd year you move the contents of bin 2 to bin 3, from bin 1 to bin 2 and the new material goes into bin 1. In year 4 you have perfect garden compost and moving forward you will always have excellent compost, it’s free and has a small impact on the environment. For the really eager gardeners amongst you, you can also make leaf mould compost, for this you need either a contained wooden bin, wire cage or heavy duty plastic sacks. Simply fill with fallen leaves and cover with an old bit of carpet and wait until it has been broken down by the worms. You can mix both types of compost together and this will give your soil a real boost.

Our soil was fairly tired when we first moved here and we expect a lot out of our garden both with edible produce and with stunning floral displays from April through to the end of October. It’s a big ask. You cannot just take, you also have to give a little in return. We are lucky that our neighbours have horses and every Winter we drive backwards and forwards collecting well-rotted manure and covering all of the flower beds and vegetable gardens with a dressing of manure at least 8″ thick. All of the goodness of the manure is leached into the soil over Winter and provides feed for the plants, improves the composition of the soil and encourages good micro organisms. Healthy soil equals healthy plants, it’s not rocket science. The organic matter that is incorporated into the soil enhances the soils ability to store water and we improve this situation in the Spring by applying a bark mulch to a thickness of 6-8″, anything less is a waste of time energy and money. It reduces water evaporation through periods of hot weather and windy weather, you will find that plants thrive.

Casting a critical eye and forward planning

Magical gardens don’t happen overnight, they take time, energy, money and thought. We change things every year here in the Moosbach Garden, I think it takes quite a few years until you find the final home for each and every plant. Sometimes the plant will tell you that it’s in the wrong place by not thriving and sometimes it will shout out at you every time that you walk past it that it’s the wrong colour or size for where it is. This is normal and you have to take your time with these things, you cannot really expect to have placed every plant in its perfect position at first attempt. One trick I use is to pretend that the garden is not mine (we can be a little precious about our own), I pretend that it is a garden that I have paid to visit and view it as critically as I would somebody else’s garden. But be kind to yourself, if you find areas that just don’t work in your garden just make a note and tweak things.

Part of this review process is thinking about what you do differently next year, about what plants you lift and split, which plants to move and what new acquisitions need to be made. Your post box should be awash with seed and plant catalogues, seeds can ordered, delivered and can sit in your potting shed awaiting the warmer weather of Spring. There are, however, things that need immediate action, trees, shrubs and roses can be ordered and delivered between November and March. They can be planted straight away as now is the perfect time to plant whilst the soil is still warm enough to encourage new root growth without the stress of supporting leaves, flowers and new stem growth. We only plants shrubs and trees in the Autumn and have found that they settle quicker and don’t struggle as much in the first year as those planted in Spring.

The Moosbach Garden Online shop is now open

As you would expect from gardeners who are so obsessed with David Austin Roses we have a wonderful new Selection for you to choose from. As well as the many new varieties that we have for you this year, we have some favourites returning and due to the sheer volume of requests from customers we have added 4 varieties of standard roses all of which are stunning. Bare root roses are available now, as are potted roses. Also don’t forget that we offer overnight stays at the Moosbach Garden that include a 4 course evening meal including produce grown organically here in the Moosbach Garden. Dates are available from December onwards. Next Spring will see the return of the hugely popular Moosbach Garden Picnic hampers, which can be enjoyed in the Moosbach Garden. Gift Vouchers can be purchased via our website for roses, overnight stays and picnics.

So let’s talk about roses!

Standard roses

We have chosen 4 varieties that we know are totally amazing. Gertrude Jekyll (Pink) has the most glorious perfumes and is our top selling rose, Darcey Bussell (red) is stunningly beautiful, Desdemona (White) is one of my favourites with a beautiful form and lovely perfume and Graham Thomas (Yellow) is one of the best Yellow roses around, it has a beautiful flower and perfume.

Climbing roses

We have the following varieties available: Gertrude Jekyll, Graham Thomas, Spirit of Freedom, Strawberry Hill, Tess of the D’urbervilles and Wollerton Old Hall.

Rambler Roses

We have 3 varieties for you: Bobbie James, Francis E Lester and Paul’s Himalayan Musk. Moosbach Garden tip, if you want to attracts Bumble bees to your garden, Francis E Lester is the perfect rambler, is stunningly beautiful and our favourite rambler.

Rugosa Roses

We have Roseraie De L’Hay for you which grows 2 Metres tall and wide, repeat flowers and is simply stunning, if you want a staement plant then this is a good choice.

Bush Roses

Ok, now you may need to buy a new garden to accommodate the varieties that we are offering you this year, there are so many that I am going to list them by Colour.

Pink Roses: Boscobel, Brother Cadfael, Emily Bronte, Gentle Hermione, Gertrude Jekyll, James, L Austin, Jubilee Celebration, Olivia Rose Austin and Wild Edric.

Red Roses: Darcey Bussell, Falstaff, Munstead Wood and Thomas A Becket.

White Roses: Desdemona, William and Catherine , and Winchester Cathedral.

Yellow Roses: Golden Celebration, Jude the Obscure and Vanessa Bell.

Orange Roses: Lady Emma Hamilton, Lady of Shallot, Summer Song, The Lady Gardener and The Lark Ascending.

You can order all roses on line by clicking here. You can collect your roses in person or we can post them out to you.

Why not order a Gift voucher for a rose, overnight stay or a picnic as a Christmas gift.


As the gardening year draws to a close

Rose hips of Madame Gregor Strachlyn

The majority of the jobs in the November garden include cutting back the dead growth on perennials, pruning roses and shrubs, mulching and manuring and taking stock of the gardening year that is fast spent. Many of us have spent much more time at home this year and as a result, more time in r gardens. I hope that you have had time to reconnect with your garden space, that you were able to stand and stare and to see the wonder, not only of the plants, trees and flowers but at the ecosystem that your garden supports

Here at the Moosbach Garden we have harvested the pumpkins which have been left in the Autumn sun to harden off, the beetroot, beans, courgettes. pickling cucumbers have all been preserved in jars, the potatoes and carrots have been stored in a cold cellar in sand. The fruit has been either turned into jam or stored in a cold, windowless cellar and should see us through until the end of February. It feels natural and fitting in this climate of uncertainty to have this bounty stored in our cellars like a squirrel storing hazelnuts for the winter ahead.

There are some jobs that you can get on with now if you haven’t already done them, here in the Moosbach Garden we are running behind with these jobs. Here are some things that you can do now.

Tidying up dead growth on perennials

Dead summer growth on perennials can be cut back and added to the compost pile. To keep the correct balance between maintaining the health of perennials and providing places for insects to overwinter follow these simple guidelines. If the dead growth is likely fall and rot on the crown of the plant then it should be removed to reduce the risk of damage to the plant crown, likely candidates are delphiniums, rudbeckia, echinacea and perennial peonies ( don’t cut back tree or intersectional peonies). It the growth is rigid and likely to stay so then leave it as a place for insects to overwinter, likely candidates are Phlox and other plants with woody stems. Remember that our gardens are mini eco systems and by welcoming this bio diversity we are helping the planet rather than hastening its destruction. Please consider leaving piles of twigs, old branches and logs for wildlife too, it all helps.

Plant spring flowering bulbs and plants.

Wallflowers are one of my favourite springtime flowers, we grow a variety called Persian Carpet from seed. Wall flowers are biennial plants, meaning that you sows the seeds in the first year and they flower in the second. Wallflowers should be big enough to plant out now and this is usually done once you have put the garden to bed for winter. In the UK you should be able to buy wallflowers cheaply at most garden centres and I would recommend the variety Persian Carpet if you can get it for its rich hues of red, gold, orange and yellow. Wallflowers are also an invaluable source of nectar for early bumble bees and insects.

Plant trees, roses and shrubs

Autumn is the perfect time for planting trees, shrubs and roses. The soil is still warm enough to allow for root growth and as these plants are not having to support leaves they can put all their energy into producing healthy root systems. You can buy bare trees, shrubs and roses from November onwards and they are usually a little cheaper than their potted counterparts. For our part, the Moosbach Garden will be offering a wonderful selection of bare root and potted David Austin roses from December. Please click here to see our selection.

Add organic matter to improve soil structure

The addition of well rotted farmyard manure is one of the best gifts that you can give your garden. All of the goodness it contains will leech into the soil and over the winter the worms will incorporate the remaining material into the soil improving the structure and the soils ability to maintain moisture. Find a local farmer or stables and apply a good manure mulch, I would recommend at least a depth of 4 inches. Supplement this feed next year by making your own comfrey or nettle tea to feed your garden. Avoid using manmade chemicals if possible.

Move plants around whilst they are dormant and split any perennials

The best time to move and divide perennials is whilst they are dormant, as long as each section of plants has some root you should have viable plants come the Spring. Moving and dividing plants in their dormant phase is less stressful for plants as they are not in active growth or supporting leaves. Prime candidates are Phlox, rudbeckia, echinacea and peonies.

Plant sweet Pea seeds and Christmas flowering daffodils

You can still plant sweet pea seeds and once they have germinated they can be overwintered in a cold frame and once the warm Spring weather kicks in they will romp away. Christmas flowering miniature white daffodils can be potted up and once they have poked their heads through the soil can be bought inside for flowering at Christmas.

Don’t forget the birds this Winter

Winter can be very hard for our feathered friends, leaving out a good supply of nuts, sunflower seeds, fat balls and water is essential in ensuring their survival. Here at the Moosbach Garden we grow a selection of berry trees to provide Winter food for birds, including holly and Crab apples. We also leave the last roses so that the rose hips can develop and provide food for the birds. They also look great when the garden is frosty.

New to the Moosbach Garden shop

Following the success of our David Austin roses and the numerous requests from our customers we have expanded our selection to include 4 standard roses. We are offering the following varieties as standard roses:

Gertrude Jekyll (Pink)

Graham Thomas (Yellow)

Desdemona (White)

Darcy Bussell (Red)

We only have limited numbers though but you can pre-order both standard and bsuh roses on our website.