Reap what you sow

28 September 2023
What a difference a month can make! Now that we are well into September, the Autumn weather is certainly in full flow. Leaves are starting to fall, swirling across the lawns as the breezes catch them, and windfall apples are being devoured by hungry wasps and clouds of Red Admiral butterflies.  We have had some really strong gusts of wind, not quite gales, but strong enough to blow over our sunflowers in full bloom, snapping the stems and leaving the precious golden blooms lying face-down on the path. Our rabbits waste no time in choosing the best bits to eat, now that they are within reach, and leave lots of little bits of nibbled plant on our garden paths.
Red admiral on a sunflower
Talking of paths, we have been busy adding the gravel surface to our paths in the enclosed garden. Anyone who has visited the garden will recall the rough, stony, grey paths that we have used for the past 22 months. These are really quite difficult to walk on even wearing big, heavy boots, and pushing a laden wheelbarrow was an unpleasant experience but now joy all round, smiles and laughter. The new, level, gravel and sand surface has transformed the gardens and we feel as though we are floating.

The paths look wider, in fact the whole garden looks bigger and there is much more definition between the edges of the beds and paths making the garden look much more structured.

Image of the Paths being created and rolled
Our tomato harvest is in overdrive and we are picking somewhere in the region of 20lbs of fruit every few days. We grew a mix of plants this year and all four varieties have been successful, ‘Orkando’, ‘Tigerella’, ‘Cuor di Bue’ (ox-heart) and ‘Moneymaker’. Things were a bit slow to get going in the spring and the fruit took sometime in July and August before it began to ripen but everything is going according to plan now and even with the cooler evenings, the juicy tomatoes just keep coming. The ‘Cuor di Bue’ – an old, Italian heritage variety has produced some enormous fruits for us but now we have sent the green tomatoes off to be turned into chutney and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the remaining red ones to ripen.
Tomatoe and a Tennis ball
I like to keep my eyes open when walking around the gardens, identifying Buzzards or Sparrowhawks flying overhead, putting names to the unusual beetles or toadstools we find growing in hidden corners, counting the number of geese flying overhead and generally trying to observe and learn with whom and what we share our gardens. Wasps are not my favourite insect but they are really useful in the garden as they eat lots of other pests and bugs which can damage our crops so I tolerate them. You have to feel sorry for them at this time of year as it begins to cool down and they are desperately searching for food. Very soon they will die off and only a few queen wasps will survive to start off a new nest next year. There are quite a few buzzing around our apple trees, especially on the windfallen fruit, but I was amazed to find a fallen apple almost completely eaten by wasps. Looking at the photo I can count 58 wasps – how many can you see?
Wasps in a rotten apple
Written by Margaret
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.

 

Catherine Bradley.<br />

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