The Isle of Wight has long been recognised as benefitting from both a mild coastal climate and fertile soils favourable to the gardener
“In general such is the purity of the air, the fertility of the soil, and the beauty and variety of the landscapes, that this island has often been styled the Garden of England” – The History of the Isle of Wight, Sir Richard Worsley. 1781
This is one of a series of articles and anecdotes largely based around our work on the Isle of Wight and occasionally further afield
“When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark
Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.”
Henry Van Dyke
Autumn is probably the busiest season in the garden and is an excellent time to reinvigorate planting schemes.
As late summer blooms begin to fade cut down the spent flowering stalks of herbaceous plants, dividing and moving crowns if necessary, fork in organic matter such as leaf mould whilst doing so.
Plant spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils and Tulips, those of Snowdrops may also be planted now but may be more successful if planted in the green next spring. Summer bedding can be replaced with winter flowering Universal Pansies and Polyanthus “Crescendo”.
Early preparation for and ordering of bare-rooted plants can be wise as this will allow them to be planted in early November before the worst of the winter weather sets in.
The Autumn flowering Cherries – Prunus subhirtella “Autumnalis” (white) and “Autumnalis Rosea” (Pink) are one of the few trees that will start to blossom at this time of year and there is much to be enjoyed with the vivid leaf colours of Acers such as the yellow A.Campestre or the orange and red of A. Rubrum., and likewise for shrubs such as Viburnum Opulus. The Virginia Creepers have good autumn colour too, Parthenocissus quinquefolia “Engelmannii” is a particularly good variety.
Many trees and shrubs will be bearing attractive fruits and berries, although the reds of plants such as Cotoneasters and Pyracanthas seem to predominate Yellow and Orange varieties may also be found. The red and orange fruited Malus John Downie looks particularly good at this time of year as do the large red hips borne by Rosa Moysii “Geranium”.
Just after the fruits have been picked and the leaves have begun to fall is a good time to prune Apples and Pears, remove weak, damaged and crossing over shoots and branches to allow light into the centre of the tree.
Brush fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn, raising the mowing height for the final few cuts.