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!