As I am writing this article we are enjoying the best of the summer so far. My tomatoes are abundant with fruits and my flowers are a delight of colour, however, as it is with gardening, it is also time to do a bit of forward thinking.
Deadheading and a little pruning will squeeze a few more flowers from the plants but, in the main, they are almost finished and I am now looking forward to a good clean up.
When everything has stopped being productive it is a good idea to remove all the pots from the boat and give it all a good clean. Inevitably mud, grit and leaves will have stuck themselves to the paintwork and could be blocking drainage holes or make soggy little patches for moss and mould to grow, potentially ruining the paintwork. Use this opportunity do any necessary repairs before the winter.
Early autumn is the time to plant up some spring bulbs. Daffodils and narcissi benefit from early planting along with muscari, crocus, anemone blanda and the stunning mini iris reticulata among other varieties. This year I am going to plant up a pot of snakeshead fritillery. Years ago this wonderful and exotic looking bloom was a commonplace wild flower in our meadows, sadly, with modern agricultural practices, it is now rare to find it growing in its natural habitat. I would like a pot on the boat for my spring trip out and when they have finished flowering, I will plant them in the garden to naturalise.
Mix and match your bulbs, planting in layers to achieve a real pot full of blooms, using good quality compost and a pot with good drainage to avoid root rot. Look out for bare-rooted wallflowers, especially a new variety called Sugar Rush which flowers both in the autumn and the spring; this one is very suitable for container growing and only grows to about 12 inches so would be excellent for the boat. Winter pansies will be coming into stock now as well as the cheerful little cyclamen whose dainty flowers belie their hardiness. Also, don’t forget the humble hyacinth, to me, it is definitely the queen of spring flowers; easy to grow, big blousy blooms with a beautiful fragrance in soft sugary colours happy to be outside in the harshest of weathers or brought inside to fill the boat with their scent.
While I have cleaned the roof and planted my spring bulbs, I am now going to do some instant gardening and create a display of seasonal plants to brighten the boat when I go away on my autumn break. It is time to enjoy the beauty of the countryside as it prepares for winter. Holiday-makers will be fewer and although the nights are drawing in, somehow, the light is a little more golden and the reflections just a little more intense.