A few weeks ago (in December) the whole garden and estate was shrouded in fog for days. Flights started to back up at the airports, and the whole world had gone quiet. High pressure does a wonderful job of creating a sense of stillness and quiet in the garden. I love this atmosphere, even though its so cold going down the drive on the bicycle!
Then the sun starts to seep through the murk and walking around the garden looks completely different - I guess you are only focusing on the ground as these is a white blanket above, so details seem to jump out at you much more. There is little you can do outside on days like these where the frost doesnt lift, so its a good chance for us to tidy the greenhouses and vinery.
We are getting later and later frosts these past few years, so the first frost now seem to occur in November, rather than October. This helps prolong the colour in the borders, although as the winters are now effectively shorter, this leaves us with less time to thoroughly clear the borders - yes, it really does take about 4 months to tidy, clear away dying foliage, weeds, move stray plants and fork over the all the beds at Toddington Manor.
When we have the first frost it always seems to catch me by surprise - the summer evenings seem so recent and the borders still look good. I always keep a close eye on the water forecast so all the large summer pots placed around the garden with tender margurite Daisy's are all safely tucked away in the frost free vinery.
The dahlias and cleomes still look great while the frost is still on them, but tomorrow morning all the cells will have been ruptured and turn the whole bloom to a dirty sodden brown lump - not so attractive!
Our rich red rhubarb chard will not suffer so badly - the outer leaves may be for the bin, but the inner leaves will still be able to be harvested. In fact, this is one ornamental vegetable I would not be without in the ornamental potager. It seems to tolerate heavy rain, drought, pests leave it alone, it is easy to germinate, looks gorgeous whilst patiently sitting there waiting for a gardener to harvest the rich red, crinkly leaves.
It is even listed as a super food along with the equally spectacular kale. They both have an 'acquired' taste, which basically means they are both quite bitter compared to the ordinary vegetables you can buy at the supermarkets, but combined with other vegetables, especially in soups, they are really quite good.
Have been very busy of late with another project, but have found a little time over the holidays to update you all on whats been happening over the past couple of months at the Manor.
We have had a very windy Autumn in Toddington this year. Not so good for gardeners as working on days when the wind incessantly blows can really wear you down somehow - the gardeners have been talking about this and the end result was that if you wear ear defenders whilst weeding, it doesn't affect you at all, so it must be the noise that makes your head 'busy'!
Feeling pretty daft while wearing them though!!!
Its lovely when the wind blows when the leaves are falling though, as we use petrol powered leaf blowers to move the leaves of our lawns, (which means wearing the aforementioned ear defenders.) Otherwise the worms end up dragging them down under the soil, and really makes the lawns quite messy. Also, the leaves collect in sheltered corners and if left to sit there for more than about a week the grass underneath will yellow and even die eventually.
Toddington Manor is very lucky to have some wonderful trees on the main lawn, and some of these colour well in the autumn, such as...
Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)
Golden Robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia')