A Golden September

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Desdemona

Some people adore the height of Summer in June and July when the garden is performing at its peak and it has to be said that it is glorious with the sumptuous excess of roses, delphiniums and phlox flowering in all of their glory but for me September can be even better.

Golden Septembers are not guaranteed

You don’t always get that golden Summer when it’s gloriously hot but when you do I think that it’s special.  What do I love so much about September? Well it is a time to be grateful for the gifts that natures bestows upon us.  It is a time of picking the last peaches and the first apples and pears, of harvesting the last of the summer crops from the vegetable garden, it is a time of plenty.  It’s also the time when the last few roses put on a dazzling display of beauty and I think that I enjoy them so much more because they stand out as beautiful highlights in the garden.

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Brother Cadfael

For me it is also the time to take a breath now that things have slowed down a little, I can step back from the manic duties of Summer and see how the garden has developed in those Summer months.

The big surprise of this Summer

The biggest surprise for me this Summer has been the roses, as many of you will know, we planted a new rose garden this year and it has done exceptionally well.  I have some varieties that have grown to a height of 6 feet or more, which really is incredible in their first year.  Olivia Rose Austin (1st picture above) is a perfect example, David Austin say that this rose generally grows to about 1.25 metres high and yet mine is standing at 6 feet tall, shows no signs of slowing down and is flowering for the 3rd time this year.  It has also been extremely healthy and has shown no signs of disease. he David Austin size guidelines are for the UK and in warmer climates they will grow taller and bigger.

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Olivia Rose Austin

Just look at this perfectly formed rose and also see how healthy the leaves are, it has not been sprayed at all.

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Harlow Carr

This rose, Harlow Carr, I planted in a group of 3, as recommended by David Austin, this is a rose that does so much better in the ground than in a pot, it creates a tall, bushy rose with lots of dainty pink roses that are highly perfumed.  In my opinion it would be a perfect variety for creating a scented rose hedge, I also like Rusosa “Wild Edric” for this purpose.

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Wollerton Old Hall

This is a climbing rose of great beauty, it is one the best scented climbing roses and repeat flowers all summer.

Living off the garden – is that not the dream?

 

At the moment we are able to get all that we need to eat from the garden.  It is so rewarding picking and eating fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, I feel like we are living like kings!  The pears are absolutely fantastic, sweet and juicy, as are the peaches. We are still harvesting and eating fresh courgettes but we also have enough preserved in jars to last us the winter, along with peas, beans and herbs.  So I think that September is a time to be grateful, a time to be thankful that we live somewhere that we can grow fresh fruit and vegetables and grow beautiful flowers.  Is there a chance that we will end up taking it all for granted? Never.

When Winter comes

When Winter comes I promise not to moan about how cold it is or about how much snow there is, instead I will remember, as I open up a jar of some preserved goody, how wonderful the Summer was, how kind and how generous the garden and nature have been to us.  Does that alone not make this wonderful planet worth saving?

My next post will be showcasing the David Austin roses that will be available in March here at The Moosbach Garden.

We have a small selection of roses for sale at a reduced price (25 euros) a saving of 3,95 Euros.  They are all in flower and make an ideal gift for a friend (or yourself)!

Is gardening the epitomy of a symbiotic relationship?

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I’ve not been particularly well for the last month so I am a little behind in the garden.  It’s funny how much changes in the garden when you turn your back for 5 mins.  It struck me today that I have a really symbiotic relationship with the garden and although it’s hard work I can’t help feeling that I’m getting the better deal.

What’s all this nonsense about a symbiotic relationship?

I hear people saying out loud what is this bloke on about, symbiotic relationship? It’s just a garden.  Well, I beg to differ and I’ll tell you why.  I have a problem with my shoulder and can’t do too much physical work a the moment and whilst the exact problem was being diagnosed I’ve been reluctant to do much physical work for fear of making things worse.  I’ve been diagnosed now and have severe arthritis which has caused my shoulder bones to increase in size, resulting in a reduced space for muscle, ligament and nerve movement.  It hurts but it’s not going to get any worse by working in the garden (as long as I don’t over do it).  I’ve ventured out into the garden these last 2 days as the thought of the weeds overtaking the flower beds is too much for me.  What a difference there is in the garden in such a short space of time.  Yes, ok there are weeds galore (they are opportunists) but there a masses of roses in flower and the garden is full with ripe, delicious fruit. I harvested a bucket (literally a bucket) of peaches with blood-red juicy flesh and today I collected another bucket of pears, perfectly ripened, juicy and very tasty.  it got me to thinking about the relationship that I have with the garden and it is definitely symbiotic. Here is the dictionary definition:

  1.  Biology.  A close, prolonged association between 2 or more organisms of different species that may but not necessarily benefit each member.
  2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence

Well, the garden needs weeding, watering and feeding, so that’s my part covered and in return I get beautiful flowers all summer long, I get potatoes, beans, peas courgettes, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, beetroot, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums, apples, pears and peaches and let’s not forget the many herbs.  I reckon for the amount of effort I put in I am more than compensated.

Don’t undervalue the feeding of your soul

It is very easy to see all of the physical things that you get from your garden but what about the things that you can’t see or hold?  It has become an acknowledged medical fact that gardening is good for your mental health.  I felt it yesterday, having been cooped up inside the house for the last few weeks I was feeling a little down in the dumps.  As soon as I stepped into the garden I felt my spirits lifting.  It felt like the garden was saying “Hey, we missed you, welcome back.  Look what we have to show you”

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The peaches above are not very large but that’s to be expected after the hot and dry summer that we’ve had but they are so juicy and so very tasty.  We are currently living off of our garden.  For breakfast we are having pears, apples and peaches with a bit of musili. Our evening meal consists of vegetable fresh from the garden and wonderful free range eggs from our chickens.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I love reducing my environmental footprint.  All his food has only travelling from the garden to the kitchen and it’s not been sprayed with anything, except water. Ok our produce is not of a uniform shape, our pears have blemishes on their skin and our carrots are a funny shape but they taste fantastic.

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Thank you garden

So, yes gardening a symbiotic and wonderful relationship and I will be fulfilling my part of the relationship over the next few weeks by weeding, watering, repairing supports and pruning what needs pruning. I will be thankful that I am healthy enough to get out there and garden and I will be especially thankful when I bite into that next juicy pear.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing Your Autumn “To-Do”List

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Autumn is gently knocking at the door and whilst it’s not quite time to start putting the garden to bed, it soon will be.  I always find it useful to make a “To-Do” list otherwise I tend to forget those jobs that need doing that I made a mental note of in the height of Summer.

Things to do whilst you can still see what is what

Once Autumn/Winter is finally upon us and all the deciduous plants have dropped their leaves it is more difficult to see what plants are.  This is OK if you only have a small garden and you know exactly where every single plant is but here in the Moosbach Garden it’s impossible.  There are always going to be instances, frequently during the early years of a garden, when a plant is in the wrong place. I’ll give you an example, I’m turning the top bed in the rose garden which is currently a mixture of delphiniums, lupins, foxgloves and Phlox into a hot bed or Jewel Garden as Monty Don likes to call it. Now, there are some plants still in this bed that don’t match the colour scheme, for example some Phlox “Giant David” which is white. So, now is the time when I will walk around the garden with bundles of different colour strings that I tie around the stems of plants that need moving.  How you organise your colour coding is a personal choice.

Whatever works for you

There really are not many hard rules in gardening and everybody needs to find a rhythm that works for them.  The Famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll used to take photographs of all of the garden in the summer months, which she paired with copious notes for review in the relatively quiet period of Winter before making any changes.

The developement of a new garden should be part planned and part organic

What do I mean by this?  Well my view is this, if you are starting a new garden on a blank canvas where no garden has existed before you are very lucky indeed.  What a luxury not to have to work with and around somebody elses view of what the garden should be.  When it is virgin ground you have the benefit of being able to measure the garden and then sit down with a big sheet of graph paper and decide where your paths, hedging and flower beds will be.  Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West had exactly this luxury at Sissinghurst Castle, although it should be noted that it was Harold Nicholson who measured the gardens and laid out the paths and hedging and Vita then crammed the different areas of the garden with plants.  However, any plan for a garden will need tweaking, you can try to visualise how things will look in your head but it is only when they are in situ that you can see if it works but give it time. A garden needs time to find its feet so don’t keep changing things every week.

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One of the Herbaceous borders at Sissinghurst

Dead-heading and planning changes

I find that this time of year is perfect for a little relaxed dead-heading of flowers to help prolong the season.  One of the joys of gardening comes at the end of a long Summer of watering and weeding when you can relax a little, take your foot off the accelerator and enjoy your garden.  I think sometimes when you garden you can be so busy with the many essential garden jobs that need doing that you do not have the time to see how the garden has changed in just  few months.  When I am dead-heading rose blooms I really get the chance to smell the different roses and immerse myself in their beauty.  The roses in the Moosbach Garden are putting on their final “Big Show” of the year and they are stunning.  Sometimes I sit on a bench with a cup of tea or a glass of dry white wine and it is then that I can objectively see what is working well and what isn’t working so well.  I keep a notepad which contains my “To-Do” list about my person so that I can make a note of changes to be made when the garden is asleep.  It is the only way that it works for me, 9 times out 10 when I say to myself that I’ll make a note of that later  I don’t.

Dividing Perennials

Once plants go into their dormant phase you can divide them which can revitalise them, plus you get new plants for free.  There is an article on this blog with instructions for dividing Phlox plants which you can do at any time whilst they are dormant.

Something wonderful to look out for

In the next week I will be unveiling all of the fantastic David Austin roses that will be available to buy on our website.  Please note that we have a limited supply of each variety, so it’s best to order early.  Roses will be available for collection from March 2019.

If you are looking for a beautiful rose now we have a few potted roses for sale that are currently in flower.  Available varieties are

  • Harlow Carr (1 available)IMG_4271
  • Desdemona (2 available)5046ffe4-3ce9-4794-af9b-2df494b3fcf4
  • Brother Cadfael (1 available)da5b9ffb-184f-4d20-8584-a0aa86fbc74c
  • Thomas A Beckett (3 available)IMG_4283
  • Falstaff (1 available)3d09bb4c-8564-403d-b5f2-c5d3d6a4c15c-2
  • Boscobel (1 available)0e338944-f6fc-4b9c-be48-3e2e5f8abe2a-1
  • Wollerton Old Hall Climber (2 available)f46a6d20-8482-490b-855f-bc69d5293a79-1
  • Olivia Rose Austin (1 available)ff6f0b6c-0750-4ff6-b15c-1dc08230e937-1

If you are interested in buying one of the above roses please email us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turning Of The Seasons

I really like years when there are distinct seasons, there’s a certain rhythm to it that brings contentment.  I think it brings contentment because life is cyclical, everything that we do is based around repeating patterns. Each day repeats with its 24 hours, each week, each month, each year and each birthday.  Imagine if we didn’t have a concept of time, how would we measure our existence apart from the changing from day to night and the wrinkles on our faces.

Childhood Memories

I think like most people, when I look back at my childhood I remember long hot summers that never seemed to end and long cold, snowy winters.  Perhaps we romanticize our childhoods and it wasn’t always like that and our brains are just playing a trick on us. As I have got older it has seemed that the seasons have all blurred into each other, Winters seem mild and wet and Summers full of rain and inclement weather.

The bizarre weather of 2018

This year has been a strange one, it was preceded by what seemed like a very long Winter, it wasn’t particularly cold here, we didn’t have a metre of snow but it was windy and everything dried out and we lost quite a few plants in their dormant phase.  Spring didn’t really appear, we went from Winter to Summer in the space of a couple of days. I still can’t get my head around a temperature change of 10 degrees celsius or more in a day, how does that work?

A long, hot and very dry summer

This summer has been gloriously hot but far too dry with next to no rainfall here for 3 months resulting in hours of watering and ultimately a dry well. Suddenly the weather changed from the upper 30’s to the lower 20’s. It’s like there’s a mad scientist or bond villain with the ability the change the weather in a heartbeat.  If that is you, stop it now, OK.

A return to bio rhythm please

What we all need is a return to natural patterns of weather.  Lets have a cool misty Autumn where the air is filled with the aroma of fermenting windfall apples and smoke from bonfires when gardeners are tidying up their gardens.  Let us have a cold winter where frozen leaves crunch under our feet and rose hips glisten with frost in the morning.  Let us have a slow and gentle awakening of nature in Spring, let crocuses and daffodils poke their heads above ground at the end of February and then flower for weeks in April. Let leaves on trees and hedges delight us with their slow awakening and please let that first green of Spring be a green that is unique to that moment, innocent, pure,full of hope and expectation.

But it’s not all bad

Ok so it’s been a crazy year for the planet, for people, for wildlife, for nature but for those with water it’s been a great year for fruit and a fantastic year for roses.  Everyone I talk to about gardening say, “hasn’t this been a good year for roses?” and in fairness it has, roses love lots of sun and that is just what they got.  I chose this year to create a new rose garden and it’s done really well, so maybe it’s me that has the crazy weather controlling technology (who would have though that behind my mild manner lurks an evil genius?)

My guide to success with roses

People often ask me what the secret to growing fantastic roses is and I’m happy to tell them, it’s not a trade secret after all. Here’s what I do, I feed them when the first leaves appear and then again when the first set of flowers are finished but most importantly I give them lots of water everyday.  Like most plants, what roses need is plenty of water and sunlight.  Roses need a minimum of 4 hours sunshine a day in the summer if they are going to thrive.  Then when Autumn comes roses need a break, they need to go to sleep and rest, kind of a cyclical pattern right?  Which brings us right back to where we started, bio rhythms and seasons.

Looking forward to Autumn days

So this week I will be getting my Wellington boots out of the cellar, dusting off my old clothes that can get muddy, torn and even singed by sparks from the many bonfires I intend starting.  I will leave some piles of wood, twigs and compost as a refuge for wildlife though.  If you have a vegetable patch or an allotment, enjoy the fruits of your labours and if you have some spare produce give something to somebody who hasn’t been bitten by the gardening bug. Let’s convert some new people to the wonderous world of gardening and nature. #make the world a better place.