Next, here are the photos of a small town garden, as described in the magazine October issue. Notice plants and fruit trees are mixed together.
Garden Notes, October. Planning a Small Garden
August, when writing this, has been a mix of warm and wet. The weeds at least have thrived. By October we look to asters to give us later colour, with perhaps some leaves turning red for a late show. In planning for spring we should be buying in and planting spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips. Tidying up borders there will be clumps that can be divided into three or four and provide presents for friends. The plant is healthier for this since middle dies back and the vigour goes to the edge: dividing removes the tired middle. It is also time for trimming hedges now that bird nesting has finished.
The main aim of this article is planting a small garden. Our own garden is quite large but is broken up in ten or so small gardens. I have looked for inspiration, for me as well as you, at Ruth’s small garden in Old Town which is stuffed to the gunnels with plants that flower all read rounds in rotation. Photos can be found in the link below. The garden measures 16foot wide (around 5 metres) and 70foot long, a typical long and thin terraced house garden. You go out of the back door to a patio, with a boundary wall to one side and a fence the other. There are hedges but don’t be tempted to put in privet or anything that has no all year interest, or anything that will grow out of control. Lots of flowering shrubs can be used for hedging, staggering the flowering across the year. This garden has a recycled miniature gauge railway track alongside the path which came from Southend Pier. Ruth once ran Thomas the Tank down the track. At the bottom is a garage and a little path leading to the back gate.
Every season of the year the garden is a mass of colour as plants intermingle. It is a true cottage garden, where there is no room for weeds with flowing plants densely packed. As I write this the owner has sent photos of what is in flower in early September, much of which will be still flowering in early October. I need to add that it has been well established over the past thirty years and more or less looks after itself, the owners are in their 70s. The garden is a microclimate, kept frost-free since the buildings, walls and shelter retain heat. This is the city effect where temperatures are several degrees higher than in the country. This can be mimicked in small gardens, especially where there is a courtyard feel. They have planted apple trees along the garden and among the beds. Similarly there is a useful herb garden and runner bean wigwams. So in early September I can see roses, cosmos, dahlias, penstemon and pink Japanese anemones in profusion. The roses are long flowering varieties that don’t need pruning, the dahlias can stay in the ground without protection since frost will not be severe, penstemons just need a light prune in spring when bottom growth has begun. Sprinkle seed thinly each spring, and it becomes a riot of colour by summer and autumn. I cut Japanese anemones down to the bottom in November (actually I just pull them right out to stop them being thugs. They will grow again next year). I haven’t yet mentioned fuchsias. We are used to tender fuchsias that need frost protection or replacing every year. You can take cuttings (see below) but it is a balance between paying for winter heating or spending less on plants grown on industrially. I regard tender fuchsias as annuals and just throw them away. Consider hardy fuchsias which can overwinter in the garden, without leaves, and green up in spring. The spirit of this garden is to pack in plants which flower in winter, spring, summer and autumn. Consider Christmas box and clematis Freckles for winter, spring bulbs and philadelphus (mock orange) in spring, summer free-flowering roses, shrubs like exotic yellow buddleias which give four months of flower. Try perennial sunflowers (helianthus) which vary between two foot and eight.
Cuttings. I will keep a pot of cuttings of better quality fuchsias in the house to use free heating. You can get thirty in one large pot. Use 12, 10 and 8 inch plastic pots (you will need two 12 inch). Mix multipurpose and commercial topsoil . Put a little in the bottom of the 12 inch, place the 10 inch in and surround it with the mix, do the same with the 8 inch and finish off with a small pot in the centre. Prepare four inch long fuchsia twigs trimmed under a leaf joint (remove all leaves from the bottom two inches) and push them firmly into the mix between the pots. Do the inner circle first. Water, place a plastic bag over fairly tightly and secure it into the extra 12 inch pot. See my pictures. Place in a cool frost-free place with some light (utility room, garage, bedroom). Check them in March when you can pot them on. The multiple pots act as root-trainers. You can do the same with hardy plants, which can stay outside.
Stephen Bigger, Roman Court, Hunts Hill. Blog: https://romancourt365.blogspot.co.uk .