Canal Boat - - Contents - with Julie Clark

Gar­den­ing, the Big Sky and our clever acrostic puz­zle

It hardly seems as though Sum­mer is over when it is time to pre­pare for next year in the gar­den and with a lit­tle for­ward plan­ning now, you will en­sure a bright spring show. I think it is fair to say that we had a great sum­mer in terms of sun­shine al­though gardens and the wa­ter­ways all had their prob­lems with wa­ter short­ages. How­ever, this is when con­tainer gar­den­ing comes into its own be­cause, with care and at­ten­tion, pots full of plants and veg­eta­bles will have flour­ished as long as the wa­ter­ing and feed­ing has likely been kept up with. One danger would have been ex­ces­sive di­rect sun­light, but a lit­tle shad­ing un­der some trees would have helped im­mea­sur­ably. Be­cause of the heat, I ac­tu­ally grew less on the boat this year, but a pot full of bright red gera­ni­ums and a con­tainer of herbs has done us well. Other than just the plea­sure of hav­ing fresh herbs avail­able to eat, the grow­ing of highly scented plants can act as a mos­quito re­pel­lent when the leaves are crushed and their fra­grance is re­leased; in it­self an ex­cel­lent rea­son to grow scented gera­ni­ums and laven­der.

As our an­nual flow­er­ing plants start to give way to the yel­lows, reds and pur­ples of au­tum­nal flow­ers, it is time to think about next year. On the ed­i­bles front, it is time to plant up gar­lic along with win­ter salad leaves, spring onions and, a plant I can’t do without – co­rian­der. Co­rian­der var. cilantro is a real win­ner; one of the eas­i­est va­ri­eties to ger­mi­nate, slow to bolt and sur­pris­ingly win­ter hardy. Kale is an­other good win­ter veg­etable; very nu­tri­tious and ex­tremely pop­u­lar with those who like to juice. Try kale var. Nero Di Toscana – a strong plant with dark leaves which sweet­ens up af­ter a good frost.

Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber are the months to get spring bulbs planted up. A lit­tle prepa­ra­tion now and min­i­mal care through win­ter and you will still have a de­light­ful spring show. I plant my bulbs in lay­ers, some­times called the lasagne method. The ad­van­tages of this are that the shorter va­ri­eties act as an ex­cel­lent sup­port for the taller as well as en­sur­ing a fab­u­lous pot full of flow­ers. For a change from daf­fodils or nar­cissi, try a pot full of Anemones with the more com­mon and taller A. Coronaria be­ing sup­ported by the shorter Anemone Blanca. Mix and match colours or opt for a more sub­tle dis­play of all white or all blue. Tulips are one of my per­sonal favourites and this year. I plan to plant them up with some vel­vety bronze and bur­gundy-coloured wall­flow­ers. I am now in­spired – I can hardy wait for spring!

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