Autumn’s well on the way...
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