For many gardeners this is a quieter time of year, but work never stops at Lewis Cottage.  In his latest update Richard Orton’s reports on creating a new seating area from an old compost mound and preparations for planting hundreds of bulbs.  He also provides a useful list of jobs to keep us busy in the garden this month. 

For those of you who visit the garden at Lewis Cottage (thank you everyone who came this year)  you’ll know that we rarely sit still and there’s always a new project around the corner to be started. This year it’s a new sitting area on the western boundary of the property, for many years just known as The Mound where we would pile clippings, leaves and anything compostable too big to go into the compost bins. In essence The Mound was one huge pile of compost. Of course, over the years The Mound has settled, has been planted up with excess plants, most of which have no particular individual merit but en masse have created a perfectly respectable landscape that hid what was an uninspiring view. However, some judicious tree surgery and the creation of a large wildlife pond and meadow in our neighbour’s field has revealed a fine panorama, but one which we couldn’t see unless we walked behind The Mound. 

Our neighbour's field, a fine panorama.

Which got me thinking that instead of clearing The Mound completely so we could see the view from afar, why not make the view the destination so we could see it up close and personal? Enter the mini digger and the concrete mixer and  now the first stage of a new sitting space is revealed. 

The transformation of the mound.

It’s still very raw and brutalist but it arrived just in time to enjoy the last days of our wonderful Indian summer and has given us time to sit, pause and think about how best to plant up and finish the space. Because the space sits on the western boundary it enjoys the last of the evening sun and makes for a perfect spot to down a glass of wine or three. It’s warm, burnished, golden, should be, could be fragrant, reminiscent of long Mediterranean evenings filled with the scent of Jasmine; and there we have it! The design is already there, the planting bouncing round in my head; all courtesy of a quick trip to Majorca last month.

A place to enjoy the last of the evening sun.

Let’s make this space alive with the scent and sense of the Med. Perhaps lay terracotta brick tiles over the concrete to give warmth underfoot, a couple of pencil thin Cypress, large pots of scented pelargoniums and  agapanthus and of course a Jasmine to curl its way up through the branches of one of the old, twisted apple trees. 

Talking of large pots, we’re going to need lots of them judging by the sacks of bulbs that have just been delivered. I’m sure it’s not just me that gets caught up in bulb catalogue marketing. Somehow they manage to make you forget what you’ve ordered so you order again just to make sure, then end up with twice, three times the amount of bulbs you really need! 1000 Alliums, 300 tulips and goodness knows how many daffodils are waiting to be planted up already! Who says that the gardening season is just ending? It feels like the next one has already begun!

Gardening tips for October

  • Clean and disinfect your greenhouse to let in more light and  prevent pests and diseases from overwintering.
  • Lift and divide any overcrowded perennials whilst the soil is still warm.
  • Take hardwood cutting from deciduous shrubs such as Cornus, Deutzia, Physocarpus etc.
  • Once flowering has finished prune back rambling and climbing roses and tie in stems before the autumn winds cause them to break off.
  • Depending on your gardening style, either cut back perennial plants that have died down or leave the dead foliage in place as a shelter for wildlife.
  • Plant hedges, move trees and shrubs.
  • Remember to harvest your pumpkins and squash before the first frosts or you’ll have mushy plants for Hallowe’en!
  • If you’re lucky enough to have an asparagus bed, now is the time to cut back the yellowing top growth to around 5cm.
  • Place online orders for fruit trees, plants and hardy perennials – now is the ideal time to plant them.
  • Reuse spent compost from containers and hanging baskets as a mulch on borders.
  • Paint sheds and fences before winter arrives.
  • There is still time to give evergreen hedges one final trim. 
  • If you intend leaving pots outside for the winter, raise them off the ground using an old brick or terracotta ‘feet’ to help avoid waterlogging.
  • Clean your bird baths and feeders before filling them for winter to avoid pests and bacteria infecting bird life. 

Some of the gardens open for the NGS in the coming month

17/18  October – Regency House Hemyock

16 October – Dunly House, Bovey Tracey

More information about the garden at Lewis Cottage can be found here.

Oct 15, 2021

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