We have been treated to some delicious sunshine over the last few weeks and autumn has provided plenty of gorgeous-looking apples in Anne Boleyn’s Orchard.
(Above: Anne Boleyn’s Orchard at Hever Castle)
The apples that twist around the orchard square are called Encore, and these tasty, bright green cookers were actually introduced in 1906 by J Cheal, who designed the gardens at Hever for William Waldorf Astor. Encore has a fabulously creamy texture and received the RHS Award of Merit in 1906, along with the RHS First Class Certificate in 1908. If you have an abundance of apple or pear trees, then you can begin the process of pruning now (and up until February).
As much as I’d like to rest awhile, like Sir Isaac Newton under the apple tree that bears his name in the orchard, this month I’ll be busy raking leaves, clearing beneath the roses, lifting dahlias, planting tulips and winter bedding and cutting back the yellowing foliage of some of the herbaceous perennials. We do like to leave the seed heads on our perennials in place though, to provide food for wildlife and interesting structures for Jack Frost to crystallise next month, in time for Christmas at the castle.
November is a really busy time for the gardeners at Hever and I’m lucky to have such a hard-working, enthusiastic group of horticulturalists on site, who really get stuck into planting the winter bedding and clearing the ever-falling leaves.
Now is a good time to reflect on what worked well in your garden this year, and gain inspiration from other gardeners, before looking ahead to next year, and any larger maintenance projects needed.
The Rose Garden at Hever is famous for its wonderful collection: we have over 5,000 roses on the estate and they provide delight for all. If you want to get going with a rose garden of your own, November is a good time for planting bare-root roses, although you can in fact plant them any time from now until March.
How to plant bare-root roses:
• Soak them in a bucket of water for a few hours. After you’ve washed your plant you can tidy it up and remove anything that looks damaged.
• Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the roots. You can break the soil at the bottom of the hole so the roots have an easy pathway to goodness.
• Add in a spadeful of manure, or soil improver, then sprinkle the roots with mycorrhizal fungi.
• Backfill the rose with soil, then water.
Some favourite rose blooms for me include the Buxom Beauty, with its huge pink flowers the size of your hand, the Hever Rose, which is a beautiful blood red, and also the Super Trouper: a luminous orange which reminds me of a highlighter pen!
To tend the more established roses in your garden, put your gloves on and clear the spent leaves from around the base of the plants to prevent disease. It’s a simple job but probably one of the most important ones you’ll do this month!