Photo by Surmium
I've got some strong urges.
Foilage and flowers just look so sad and heavy from the downpours this week, that I want to cut everything down and tidy up. New Season, fresh clear up.
Hold back. Resist and I'll tell you why.
We still haven't had a frost here. I thought we would when the mercury went down to 3 degrees last night but with the ground so wet, still radiating the mild autumns warmth, even an air frost won't clip back the growth.
We need some really hard cold snaps and until then, I'm keeping well off.
I'm planting out winter salads, 'why not' sprinkles of green manures (you never know, if they germinate, they will grow and feed the soils through to the spring), planting plump root balls of annuals and sprouted ranunculus but we are now in a little purgatory season in between autumn and winter. I am sitting on my gloved hands and keeping the snips closed.
It is a season of not yet, wait, hoooold on.
Three Don't's for the weekend -
1. Don't Plant Bulbs. Yet. The soil is still too warm. Especially for tulips but I still have my crocus, narcissus, fritillary and muscari in their paper bags. Usually I'd advocate getting them in the soil by now, but there is to much green growth in the borders where I planned to naturalise them; the soil too wet to go compacting with my knees as I plant and they might try to emerge too early. No, wait for a colder spell before getting them out. There is still plenty of time.
Which means there is plenty of time to buy bulbs! I have written here about tulips and how I am reducing the numbers I plant and why. Instead I am planting more narcissus and other spring delicacies, which are so useful for posies, bud vases and boutonnieres for events and the home.
Some of my favourites - (as I write, still in stock to order)
And giving traditional trumpet with a modern pale colourway, bonus - Narcissus Mount Hood
The last few years I have planted Narcissus in rows where I can cut easily and allow them all to die down together. I plant over the top of the bulbs each summer which means they are also getting 'fed' by the the soil activity throughout the year, watered and actually fed by liquid feeds - growing the bulbs for the following year.
The other woodland bulbs are planted in the 'field' plot where they can romp away. I add more each year.
Some suggestions for delicious bud vase stems (you know how I like these by the bath, next to my bed and as little arrangements down the table).
And who can resist a 'new' variety Iris Frozen Planet
And an honorary mention to Foxtail Lillies. These are hands down, one of the most universally loved flowers on the flower farm for visitors in June. They need little attention and bulk up year on year. Worth a couple of these surely...
I have used Peter Nyssen for all these links. There are loads of suppliers but a bit too late in the year for much choice but these are consistently good quality, delivery and price plus most importantly, they don't spray with neonicotinoides which harm our pollinators. Crazy I know, you think you are feeding the insects with pollen but unknowingly you could be killing them. Stay safe with the right companies. A good mantra for life....
2. Don't clear up the plants. Beds are sodden with water, let them drain and leave the plants as they are. If you don't have something to follow on with, leave the foilage as a mulch on the ground, for the worms to feast on. Leave taller perennials and grasses to protect the more vulnerable crowns of the plants over the winter, feed insects and provide hibernation hotels. I love the frosty cobwebs and silhouettes these provide.
3. Don't lift your dahlias. Not even if you've had one frost. Wait for a couple to really blacken the leaves. This is a message to the tuber to stop growing and produce the eyes (next years shoots). It makes it much easier to lift the plants, if that's what you are doing), find the growth spots and snap off larger unecessary tubers to store. More on this and my theories around the dreaded 'Crown Gall' when this happens in a few weeks time.
So plan, read my November Column (plant a spring meadow) sweep paths, make compost heaps and have a great weekend.
Photos from this week on the plots and in the studio -
Cut Flowers in the warm autumn sunshine.
Dahlias hammered in the heavy rains.
Flowers in cars
Narcissus being planted last year (so grateful to Cissy's attention to detail and insistence that they were planted in careful order)
Chrysanthemums and dahlias complementing each other as the season crosses over for just a moment. I reckon the dahlias are too full of water now to be worth cutting. They don't last and petals are too fragile.
Still going in the Braybrooke Garden. Just.
Bringing all the succulents in to the cold greenhouse for winter holidays. (I never shut the door or windows, but it is in a sheltered corner)