Brrr... the last week finally brought a different feel to the season didn't it? Wild winds & now our first hard frost wiped out the late colour in the cutting beds here. Perhaps it's more remarkable how much did last this Autumn - I was still cutting dahlias, cosmos, antirrhinum, roses & more until the last few days.
So now we've begun the 'big clean up' - pulling out annuals (after collecting plenty of seed from the Nigella, Calendula & more), cutting back dead leaves & stems, piling all on the compost heaps. I don't think we'll ever have too much home-made compost as it really is the magic ingredient to improve soil structure & fertility. Fallen leaves, the last grass mowings & shredded paper are all great additions to the mix.
We're not over tidy though, as birds enjoy the seeds on plants such as Helenium, Teasels & Cosmos. I've noticed the Chaffinches particularly love the tall plumes of Pampas grass so it gets to stay a little longer even though it looks rather tatty. Ken has been making new 'bug hotels' for Lacewings & Ladybirds, Hedgehog homes & hideaways for the Toads, Frogs & Newts as winter approaches. Our wildlife helpers tackle the army of aphids, slugs & snails during the growing season so now it's time to take care of them.
But while it feels like the end of the growing season, 'putting the garden to bed', it's really the beginning. It's a good time to plant bulbs, bare root roses, shrubs & trees as the roots grow until the soil gets really cold. By doing these tasks now, it keeps my spirits up, even on the dreariest days. There's so much to look forward to in the coming months.
It's a great time for planning too. There's plenty of flowers to cut in Summer but keeping quality blooms coming into Autumn & early Winter requires thought. So I've been researching late blooming varieties to add.
With this in mind, earlier in the year I invested in 32 varieties of late flowering Chrysanthemums (just a few plants of each, honestly). Out of fashion for years & unknown to me, most of these varieties are unseen except at specialist shows. But I'm beginning to appreciate the range of shapes & colours, how long they last in a vase & potential for late flowers into December. They're beginning to bloom now in the polytunnel & already I have a few favourites to increase stock from next Spring.
For the next few dark months though, we'll be using our evergreen & conifer foliage, mixed with flowers grown in the south for bouquets & arrangements. Still 100% British Grown for as few 'Flower Miles' as possible. To make sure I have plenty of fresh flowers for your orders, I'll need a little more notice fthan usual. Information about winter deliveries is on the 'Special Occasions' page at the website..
As it's now dark soon after 5pm, I'm using the evenings to prepare for the Christmas season. Mossing up wreath rings, wiring cones, even preparing ribbon bows, can all be done this month. Ex Hurricane Ophelia & Storm Brian brought down beautiful cones & lichen to add to my natural wreaths this year. After every dog walk I return with a full basket at the moment!
And if making your own natural door wreath this year appeals, why not join me for a practical & fun 'Make Your Own Wreath' workshop at the lovely Cat Strand Arts Centre in New Galloway? There are still a few places for Friday 1st December. It'll be a creative afternoon making your own unique wreath - places can be booked online here.
At the end of the month, I'll be bringing Christmas wreaths & decorations along to the Christmas Shoppng Day at the CatStrand in New Galloway on Saturday 25th November & Kirkcudbright Christmas Farmers Market on Sunday 26th November. Christmas wreaths & flowers can be ordered for delivery from 2nd December.
So while it's tempting to stay in by the fire this month, do take the opportunity on rare, bright days to prepare your cutting patch for a spectacular display in 2018. Here are a few pointers of tasks for the month ahead.
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in November;
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Cut Flower Farmer & Florist near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland