I have been reading that the Autumn colours this year should be lovely, following an unusually warm September and the coming month will provide an opportunity to get out into the gardens to experience these first hand.
One of the most spectacular displays may be at Stourhead in Wiltshire, where exotic species such as tulip and katsura trees stand alongside natives such as oak, beech and birch. Tom Hill, who looks after sites at Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and Petworth Park in West Sussex, says he can already see the colours beginning to change. And it isn’t just the colour of the trees. At Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland, the assistant head gardener, Oliver Johnson, says he loves the light at this time of year.
Living as we do, on the edge of Kent, within fairly easy reach of a number of lovely gardens, it might be worth taking advantage of our privileged location. With the evenings already drawing in and with the potential of further localised lockdowns due to coronavirus, taking the time to notice nature and to take in the colourful landscapes that we can see at this time of year seems more important than ever.
Simon Toomer, a plant specialist at the National Trust, says that “The particular dusky, heavy scent of autumn and the sounds of crisp leaves crunching under foot, will all serve to help our wellbeing through the next few colder, darker months.”
Before I turn to the second week in October, I should explain that the first week in October saw me, by and large, cowering indoors, hoping to avoid the rain. I felt shamed into turning my attention to several ‘projects’ that I had earmarked for myself when lockdown began, err, just over six months ago.
One of these projects was to put some order into several piles of books that I have been accumulating and I saved that one till last, as a sort of reward to myself. It’s possible to do a fair amount of sitting down and indulge in a little light reading to help the project along. When I was almost done I unearthed (no pun intended) a great little collection of old and new books about gardening that a friend had presented to me when I took on my allotment.
One was a charming reprint of a book containing sensible advice for the novice WWII allotment-holder, including how to dig efficiently without straining your back – why didn’t I pay more attention?! – and a list of necessary tools to see you through:
Adam the Gardener, a Sunday Express publication from around 1954, presents the gardener’s year, what to do and when, with illustrations of Adam in action. He never looks very happy and I fear he hadn’t got the advice about digging techniques. I thought I would see what Adam had to say about jobs to be done in the garden in the second week in October. Here’s what I found!