Burn­ing de­sire

Cheshire Life: Novem­ber 2018

Cheshire Life - - Monthly Antiques & Collectables -

Woodsmoke, walks and gather­ing-in are the essence of Novem­ber – a month that flies by like the geese con­gre­gat­ing here for win­ter. The har­vest sea­son might be over, but the hedgerows still hold a trove of ripe, bloom-cov­ered sloes that when picked, pricked with a pin and steeped in gin make a lus­ciously warm­ing win­ter tonic.

There’s the au­tumn leaves that drift like wind-blown con­fetti on lawns and at the feet of fences to col­lect too. Gath­ered to­gether they turn into a rich and crumbly soil-im­prover that boosts the wa­ter-hold­ing ca­pac­ity of dry, sandysoils and en­cour­ages worms that aer­ate sticky clays. Plant Of The Month: Euphor­bia x pas­teurii With their whorls of ev­er­green leaves, spurges are stun­ning ar­chi­tec­tural plants thriv­ing in shel­ter ei­ther by the house or in the dap­pled shade un­der a tree. Big­gest of them all is Euphor­bia x pas­teurii, a hy­brid of the widely grown Honey Spurge E. mel­lif­era. It has larger leaves and a stur­dier con­sti­tu­tion grow­ing into a shoul­der-high dome of glossy fo­liage. Like its par­ent the lime-yel­low flow­ers put the zing into spring and have a sweet honey scent. Prune af­ter flow­er­ing, cut­ting the old­est fifth of stems to the ground, and as with all spurges wear long sleeves and gloves to keep the ir­ri­tant sap off of your skin. Make leaf-mould by pack­ing leaves into empty com­post bags with a few air­holes punched in the sides with a fork or make a cor­ral from chicken wire and pile the leaves in­side. Keep them moist and they’ll be ready to use next year. To speed up the process rake leaves onto the lawn and col­lect with a mower as chop­ping makes com­post­ing twice as fast. Af­ter tidy­ing through borders, cut weath­er­beaten stems right down to the ground, tickle over the soil with the tines of a fork to re­move foot-marks and leave an at­trac­tive fin­ish.

It’s the ideal time to plant tulip bulbs as well as bare­root trees, hedges and roses – they’ll quickly es­tab­lish as the soil is still warm from sum­mer.

Feed high-fat peanuts and suet treats to birds to fat­ten them up and see them through win­ter and put out pro­pri­etary hedge­hog feed or pet food to help hedge­hogs about to go into hi­ber­na­tion. Col­lect any mum­mi­fied fruit that’s still in the branches of ap­ples, pears and plums. They are in­fected with ‘brown rot’ and col­lect­ing stops the dis­ease from spread­ing.


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