Tales of Autumn

30 October 2023

Tales of Autumn

Drummond, our rescue cat has started to follow us about when we are working in different parts of the garden. Last week he actually followed us into the polytunnels for the first time.  Almost immediately, he began to run this way and that, following invisible trails that have been left by our nocturnal mice visitors. His nose was working overtime and having fairly quickly carried out a full recce of the area within the tunnel he must have realised that this was actually a pleasant, warm, sheltered space, out of the wind and rain and actually quite comfortable as the next time we saw him he was lying flat out on the wood chip path looking very comfortable and possibly even asleep! This didn’t last for long, however, as noticing that we were intending to leave the area, he shot out of the door and ran up the path to the cottage ahead of us. Anytime he thinks we are heading back towards the cottage he optimistically thinks that we are on our way to feed him and manages to get there first. It’s good to see that is totally at home with us now and our next job is to make sure his winter quarters will be warm and dry.

Drumond
Return of the Doocot Loch

Recent heavy rain from storm ‘Agnes’ resulted in the re-appearance of the ‘Doocot Loch’, much to the amazement and obvious delight of all our visiting geese and seagulls. This year the farmer grew a crop of barley in that field and having successfully harvested it at the end of September, there is still a generous supply of fallen grain lying amongst the stubble so we regularly see large flocks of starlings, crows, gulls, and geese gleaning their way across the furrows as they reap their own harvest. Our hawthorn berries hang red and plentiful and a recently arrived flock of Fieldfares is methodically stripping the branches having already eaten the yew berries. Just in time as the first frosts of the autumn have arrived and the other day, a dusting of snow was visible on the tops of ‘Ben Vorlich’ and ‘Stuc a Chroin’. Winter is just around the corner! After all this stormy weather, it is always reassuring to see a rainbow and the perfect one appeared on one of the few days that we have had sunshine this month.

Landscape showing Green vegetables of Kale and Cabbage
Enclosed Garden paths

We have been hard at work surfacing the paths in the Enclosed Garden. Everyone who could chipped in and did their bit whether that was shovelling gravel or sand into barrows, pushing said barrows into the garden, or raking said gravel onto the paths. We were lucky to have relatively calm weather for the ten days or so that we were involved and before long we had covered all the internal garden paths, no mean feat as that measures an area of 989 square metres. Having some gravel left over, we were able to top off an extra path leading to the rear of the house. In total we shifted almost seventy tonnes of gravel and sand so a huge thankyou and ‘well done’ to all who participated. It has transformed the Vegetable Garden, making all the beds and plants really stand out. Another step on the long route to restoring this once beautiful garden.

Coming to the end of the year

As we come to the end of another year of vegetable growing it’s staggering to realise that the gardens have produced over two metric tons of food! Currently our total is somewhere in the region of 2,250kgs of fruit and vegetables most of which has gone to the local food bank ‘Ladies of the Rock’ who supply up to seventy families and we also supply the larder of a local nursery. We still have some leeks, apples, pumpkins and turnips growing so our final tally will be a bit higher. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and it is never to early to start preparing for next year’s crops. There is lots to do in the polytunnels, checking the plastic skin for any punctures, clearing out and mulching the beds, topping up the wood chip paths and washing out all the used flowerpots. In the open garden too, we have been removing old plants to the compost heaps, bringing tender plants under cover and weeding then mulching the beds before covering them to protect them till spring. Thankfully, we can put the lawnmower away!

Written by Margaret.
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.

 

Catherine Bradley.<br />

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