Jane Austen's Garden in Autumn

23 Dec 2015


Autumn seems to be well and truly upon us now, with bright colours showing through the trees, cool nights and chilly mornings, heavy dews with bright sunny days.


Amazingly the Show Border is still in “wow” mode with a lovely show of colour from the summer annuals. The Tigridia’s - Ferraria Tigridia - (summer flowering bulbs) showed the last 3 petaled bright red flower two weeks ago. All have now been dug up last week by Sheryl, who is one of my 3 new garden volunteers.  Sheryl is a Botanical Artist and has brought pictures for me to see some of her very lovely plant paintings.


September/October and occasionally August are the months to see “Orb” spiders generally sitting in the centre of their beautiful webs which when covered with dew in the early mornings, glisten and twinkle as they move in the sunlight.


We have had many flowers out in the garden that flower well at this time of the year: Cyclamen Hederifolium, Colchicum sp., Crocus Sativus, Anemone Japonica, Genista Tinctoria, various types of Michaelmas daisies, Viburnum Opulus - Glielder Rose - that have translucent red berries and which the blackbirds love.


The most interesting tree in the garden at this time of year is the Spindle Tree - Euonymus Europeus, which is in full berry at the moment.  The cases of the fruit are almost shocking pink with a bright orange berry.  It can be found along the back path and near the path that goes through the longest border. Other Autumn plants are: Rudbeckia’s, late flowering Lavenders, Rosa “Blush Noisette”, Bugloss - Echium vulgare, Borage - Borago Officinalis, Schizostyllus Major - “The Major”, a bulbous plant about 12”/30cms high with sword like leaves and beautiful rich salmon pink flowers and can be found in a small clump in front of Rosa “Pride and Prejudice” on the road border.


Jobs to be done in the Autumn Garden


Removing stakes, ties and plant supports that have propped up early and mid summer flowers.  Digging up of now finished summer flowering bulbs and corms.  I dig these up and dry the bulbs off in the greenhouse underneath the benches, until the leaves have died off and become dried, then removing the dead foliage, wrap the bulbs in bubble wrap or fleece and pack into boxes, leaving them in the greenhouse throughout the winter months until late Spring.


The Runner Bean plants are to be removed as are the Sweet Peas and checking for any missed seed pods in the process.  The perennial or herbaceous plants will be, or soon will start to look, rather sad, yellowing with dead flowers on their stems and will need to be cut down.  This is done each year, even though I know it is good to leave seed pods and the like for the birds through the winter, but my theory is that if the plants are cut down now, the garden looks tidy through the winter months and by February, spring flowering plants are pushing up through the soil to give their lovely show of colour. Then soon after, the “spring explosion” bursts every plant and weed into growth and makes much work in another new year.  Also leaves will be falling as the temperature drops and the light goes. They need to be swept off the lawns and from pathways where they can be slippery.


Our 2 Yew trees - Taxus Baccata, always drop their berries in late October, making the pathway to the Historic Kitchen and entrance to the Museum a very slippery disaster zone.  Usually this area has to be cordoned off with stakes and ropes and the visitors have to walk behind the yew trees on large rubberised mats that I use when emptying the compost bin and the grass is slippery from rain.


Happy Gardening and watch this space for the winter Blog.


Celia Simpson - Head Gardener to Jane Austen’s House Museum   

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