Preparing Your Autumn “To-Do”List

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A guide to dividing Phlox plants

 

Phlox is one of my favourite perennial plants and comes in a variety of forms, I really like the tall sort that flower in July and August.  Phlox plants, given the ideal conditions, spread quite rapidly, however, they become non-productive from the middle as the wood gets older.  The solution to this problem is to split the plants once they are dormant, you can do this  from early winter all the way through until spring but always before they have produced the first shoots of the year.

Follow this simple and easy to use guide to create lots of new productive plants and the best thing is it’s free!

  1.  Carefully, using a garden fork, loosen the soil around the root ball of the plant.  I always cut off the dead stems from the previous seasons growth, I think that it makes the job easier as you can really see what you are doing.
  2.  Carefully lift the root ball, trying not to break any roots in the process.
  3. Split the plant using 2 back to back garden forks, depending upon the size of the root ball you can either using large digging forks or small hand-held forks.  I tend to leave my plants for 3 years before splitting them so I usually go for the larger option. Dont be afraid of being heavy-handed, plants are quite resilient, as long as each section that you divide has sufficient good quality roots then you will have a viable plant for the next growing season.
  4. You can usually divide a Phlox plant into 10-15 new plants every 3 years, even after discarding the dead non-productive wood from the centre of the plant.  Pot up or plant directly into their final location.  In spring you will see the shoots from each of these new, free plants.

Don’t be afraid to give it a go!

The first time I attempted splitting phlox using this method I was terrified that I would kill the plant. However, don’t worry plants are really very robust, especially whilst they are in their dormant phase (not actively growing). Just get out there and give it a go, as long as each section of split plant has a bit of good root it should produce a new and vigorous plant.

There is a garden in the Alsace that has huge areas dedicated to perennial plants with large drifts of Phlox, Delphinium and Lupins which they let grow in spring and strim down in the autumn.  The effect is fantastic, naturalistic and low maintenance, if you have the space why not give it a try.  If you are limited on garden space you can either give the new plants a way or sell them, all it’s cost you is a little time.

This is not the only way to grow new Phlox plants from your existing stock, you can also collect the seeds and grow them from seed or you can take basal root cuttings.  If you have any questions please feel free to drop me an email in English or in German and I will do my best to help.  You can email me at themoosbachgardener@gmail.com

 

Happy gardening!!