The Donheads Gardening Club - Page reproduced from the Donhead Digest.

October/November 2017

It seems contra to all hopes and expectations to fast forward through August to October in the Garden. I am writing this in August and you are now reading this in October. To zip through those precious months seems almost sacrilegious. We spend all Winter dreaming of summer months in the garden but how quickly they pass and how the deep mid-winter months drag. Mind you the weather we are currently experiencing (rain, rain, rain) is probably no different to January or February.

So first thoughts of Autumn have to be bulbs. And indeed it is a necessary task to order those bulbs and get them in the ground or pots because we all know just how much pleasure and enjoyment they give us in the dark months of February/March. The first daffodils have to be Rijnvelds Early Sensation. They are frequently in flower with me on my cold wet clay in Semley early to mid January. They are very yellow, the catalogues say 'golden yellow' but they are very uplifting at that time and a joy to see. Followed on by February Gold and Tete-a-Tete, they all seem to help to speed the winter months up somehow and re-assure us that Spring will come, eventually. I prefer a paler colour of daffodil later on. The smaller miniature species seem to sit easier in the garden such as Minnow, Jack Snipe, Jenny and my favourites which come later in April, the Triandrus Daffodils such as Hawera, Petrel, Silver Chimes and best of all Thalia. All these will do well in pots as well as in the ground. I use a lot of pots these days. You can keep the pots in a shed/garage during the colder months to preserve the pots themselves from frost damage, the bulbs not requiring light until their 'snouts' are peeping through, then move them out in January/February when hopefully most of the frosts are over. Then you can move them around as the flowers come and go.

We had a Wedding this Spring and I spent some time last Autumn researching the latest flowering Tulips. I was assured that Maureen (marble white) and Queen of the Night (maroon) were the very last tulips to flower. I planted up lots of tubs with these. Maureen looked absolutely splendid three weeks before the Wedding! (mid May). Spring was early of course and it is always a gamble. However they were early enough for Simon and I to enjoy them and then enable me to renew the pots in time for the Wedding with some more 'seasonal' bedding things which looked just as jolly. I would particularly recommend Maureen, especially in some shadier/darker spots in the garden where she will shine out glowing in the dark.

Alliums too must be planted in the Autumn. They lift any border out of the Spring Doldrums with their wonderful height and spectacular globes in hues of purple coming mid/end May/early June, depending on the season. I seriously do not think you can have too many. Allium Purple Sensation and A. hollandicum aflatunense mixed together in drifts through a border are a joy. Then there is A. sphaerocephalon, the Drumstick Allium. This comes much later in July/August and has a small, rich blackcurrant head, adding zing to the front of the border or lining paths. There are so many varieties of Alliums available now and it is great fun to experiment with a few new ones each year. So do not forget to add these to your Bulb order.

Happy planting.

Freddie Yorke.

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The RHS, The Gardens Group Sherborne and the Wiltshire Gardens Trust.

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