Au­tumn’s well on the way...

Garden News (UK) - - Over the Fence - Tom Pat­tin­son

A gar­den full of un­usual plants and a big col­lec­tion of fruit and veg­eta­bles in Al­nwick, Northum­ber­land.

Au­tumn is re­ally set­tling in. Skeins of geese pass over daily, head­ing for the Aln es­tu­ary, the river that gives Al­nwick its name. We’re notic­ing changes in de­cid­u­ous trees and shrubs that con­firm an early start to the sea­son of mists and mel­low fruit­ful­ness. Vibur­num ‘Dawn’, gled­it­sia and cer­cidi­phyl­lum lead the way.

The or­na­men­tal bor­ders are heavy with spent herba­ceous growth. We’re cut­ting this back and con­fin­ing it to com­post­ing bins. This is giv­ing late-flow­er­ing sub­jects more breath­ing space.

Groups of hardy fuch­sias, planted through­out the gar­den, are cur­rently at their best. ‘Genii’, ‘Hawk­shead’, ‘Ric­car­tonii’ and oth­ers may not have large, showy flow­ers, but they’re so strik­ing close-up,.

Se­dum and rud­beckia ‘Gold­sturm’ are ful­fill­ing their role of en­ter­tain­ing and at­tract­ing bee and but­ter­fly species, while colchicum and Cy­cla­men hed­er­i­folium revel in their front of bor­der space.

The green­house tomato crop has been cleared, green fruits go­ing into open boxes lined with news­pa­per in the green­house. This leaves the bor­der free for late spray chrysanths, cur­rently grow­ing out­doors and in full bud. After dress­ing the site with blood, fish and bone, we lift each plant with a good root­ball and move it un­der cover. We ended the sweet­corn crop with two huge, fi­nal cobs in late Septem­ber, and rounded-up any re­main­ing cour­gette ‘One Ball Mixed’ for a pho­to­call. It was grown in­stead of ‘De­fender’, but the tra­di­tional mar­row shape is still favourite in the kitchen. In au­tumn, ap­ples reign supreme, but sev­eral have fallen short in size this year. How­ever, I re­cently man­aged to or­gan­ise a group of 21 her­itage and mod­ern va­ri­eties, half from the Al­nwick Gar­den where we are vol­un­teers, the re­main­der from ours. Is there a per­sonal favourite? Yes! ‘Flower of Kent’ has his­tory on its side, but we do love the taste of ‘Golden Nugget (1932)’. It’s right up there along­side ‘Dis­cov­ery’, ‘James Grieve’ and ‘Cox’s Orange Pip­pin’ for flavour.

My di­verse col­lec­tion of courge e ‘One Ball Mixed’ Hardy fuch­sias re­ally are at their best now

Left, ‘Lord Derby’ ap­ples store well and, right, ‘Dis­cov­ery’ is abun­dant again

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