Gardening, the Big Sky and our clever acrostic crossword
They say autumn in supposed to be the month of mellow fruitfulness, I have to be honest and say there is nothing very fruitful growing on my boat just at the moment. The geraniums are putting up a good fight but the damp air is definitely winning. My tomatoes and courgettes are long gone and so it is left to my herbs to fight the good fight.
My long summer trip is over; thank you K& A for a wonderful experience, and now it is back to a bit of boat maintenance before the winter sets in with gusto. Everything is off the roof and a good clean up is on the cards before the painter gets her hands on the boat. Even with all my care and attention, there is a nasty area of rust developing where my troughs have been placed over the last few years. If you are going to have a roof garden it really is essential to keep the paintwork in good order as well as clean up all the leaves and dirt that will inevitably gather over the months.
All this work does not mean that I am not still growing plants for the boat. I always keep a pot of perennial herbs on the go. Rosemary is essential, particularly the trailing variety, conveniently, it is evergreen as is Winter Savoury and all the Thymus varieties. Thyme is a lovely plant, tasty as well as pretty and you can choose from green, golden and silver leaved varieties – all of which have lovely flowers in the early summer. These all make the perfect addition to those tasty winter hot pots; plant up a cyclamen or two with them and you have a pretty winter plant decoration!
Autumn is, however, the time to prepare for the spring so if you want spring flowers it is essential to get planting now. I adore spring bulbs, so simple to grow and something to look forward to through the winter. There is nothing quite like the appearance of the first shoot poking through the soil. Tulips have to be my favourites. Sarah Raven is a supplier of the most mouth watering species I have ever seen. It is essential to grow short varieties on a boat such as some of the miniature species varieties. I love the look of ‘Peppermintstick’ and ‘Odalisque’ which grow to just 10-15cms. Mix them up with muscari, crocus and hyacinths. Iris reticulata, tiny vibrant flowers bloom very early and reliably as do Jonquils and Narcissi which are perfect for the boat also growing to no more than 15cms and having the bonus of a wonderful fragrance. The choice is endless; plant the bulbs in layers and you will get an amazing pot full of blooms. Try to mix earlier and later flowering bulbs together and the show will last for weeks!
So get those chores done quickly and get planting for spring!