Green Tips – The mellow mists and fruitfulness of October

Following one of the hottest summers I can remember, our thoughts are turning this month to winter baskets and tubs to provide colour through the long dark months ahead.

If you have time and want to pop along to my container workshop in October, I’ll be passing on my ‘lasagne’ technique of layering bulbs, in order to provide colour from February through to April. I’ll also be giving tips on the best bulbs to buy this autumn and will have a good stock provided by Johnny Walkers of Taylors Bulbs.

Johnny is a bit of a star in the horticultural world, having won 25 consecutive gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for his amazing daffodils. He will be joining me in March for our Dazzling Daffodil event and will give a tour and talk showcasing our daffodils.

Wonderful and unusual

I hope you have been circling some fantastic bulbs in your catalogues; there are some wonderful and unusual narcissi out there these days. I’m ordering bulbs in large quantities at the moment, planning ahead for daffodils next March and tulips in April. 

Sealing Wax bulbs are on my list again this year, as well as Tahiti – both daffodils perform well in the garden. For the pots I like to use Tête-à-Tête (a firm favourite for many), as well as the more exotic High Note and February Gold. 

Trees and leaves

Hever Castle’s wonderful gardens are looking spectacular, thanks to the gardeners’ devotion to leaf collecting (I have to say that collecting spent leaves doesn’t rank among my favourite jobs!). However, some people love to get the blower out and have a good clean-up…I know a few gardeners who find it therapeutic. 

Don’t forget to do a bit of tree-spotting when you’re out and about this month, to my mind it’s better than trainspotting! Our resident tree expert Darren will be leading a Tremendous Trees workshop in October, which will take in the fantastic specimens we have in the grounds.

Look out for Populus deltoid (poplar): this tree used to be used for the manufacture of match sticks. Pinis nigra (or the Corsican pine) looks fantastic, with its twisted needles resembling bottle brushes. If you’re in a dry spot and looking for a good drought-tolerant tree then the Corsican pine is a good option. I like to seek out the Taxodium (swamp cypress) at this time of the year. We have quite a few down on Lake Walk, and they produce fantastic aerial roots along the ground. London plane trees, oaks, the ironwood trees, Liquidambar, larch and the cherry look fantastic at this time of year as they blaze away.

Suncatchers and rose hip tea

We are encouraging our younger visitors to take leaves home with them to make a suncatcher from fallen leaves. You can find the template here, along with the recipe for perfect rose hip tea, something you can make from your bounty of rose hips in the garden at this time of the year. If you are going to harvest rose hips for tea though, make sure that they are organic and the plants weren’t sprayed. Make sure you wear gloves, too, as the insides of the rose hip have been used for many years as an itching powder!

Garden Tour: 5 October

Container Workshop: 12 October

Tremendous Trees Workshop: 19 October

(There are two sessions on each day, at 11:30 and 14:00.)

Visit the Hever Castle website for more details.

Hever Castle head gardener Neil Miller with a rose hip

(Hever Castle head gardener Neil Miller with a rose hip)

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