Canal Boat - - Welcome - with Julie Clark

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!

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