Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Quick! You’d better get out and enjoy the autumn colour now. It’s going fast. I was at the big garden on Monday and it was very nice. By the Thursday the colour was even more intense.

Autumn colour in the big garden

Then came a nice bit of frost, wind and rain (back to normal, in other words). And so the leaves are everywhere.

Subtle colours of autumn leaves in the west of Ireland

Being from the eastern United States originally, I grew up with huge amounts of leaves falling in the autumn (yes, it’s why we call it ‘Fall’). In fact, it’s something that I took for granted until I moved to Ireland. At home, you have no shortage of leaves to gather to make into leaf mould, which is such a great soil conditioner. Here, in the west of Ireland, you really have to look hard to find enough leaves to rake into a puny little pile.  And even though I curse them at home in America because of the torturous amount of raking you have to do, I do miss the large quantities of leaves.  The big garden has those large quantities that I miss. The little garden does not.  However, if I can live for 30 or 40 more years, I might reap the benefits of all my frantic tree planting in the last few years at the little garden.

Autumn colour on the river

The big garden has loads and loads of very old trees, some being centuries old. There is oak, beech, ash, yew, maple, willow, sycamore (or suckamore as I call them, because they suck and I hate them — though I was reminded that suckamore is good for timber to burn, which, in my opinion is where it is best placed…). The colour this time of year is rich. It is subtle, unlike the autumn colour in New England which can nearly give you a headache when you’re looking at it on a bright day. The colour here reminds you of fires and fine woollen jumpers and hot port. I’ve said it before, but I do love this time of year.

Next time… the garden club.


This is Raford House, home of the big garden part of my blog.

Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year to work in the garden.  I have been busy digging up perennials from my own place to divide and take over to the big house for the large border there.  I suppose there is some risk involved in moving plants this time of year, especially since the weather here in the west of Ireland is due to turn cold towards the end of the week (not to mention the fact that the ground is swamped from the summer that never showed up).  But I’m a bit of a gambler and am only moving things that you probably couldn’t kill if you tried (some dark Aquilegias and a clump of Geum rivale Leonard’s Variety).

My friends get the benefit of my division frenzy and are well used to having milk containers with the tops chopped off filled with bits and pieces of root and stem and leaf.  What’s this? they ask.  And I always say, just plonk it in the ground, give it a bit of space and trust me.  I’m trying to get as much lifted this year so that in the spring when I’m frantically sowing seeds and clearing the weeds (which continue to grow through the winter here), I won’t have to be so worried about dividing things.  And next year will be a big year for division as a lot of my stock is three or four years old now and well due hacking back and reviving.

We are slowly trying to make the big border less pink.  In the past someone who knew what they were doing planted loads of really nice shrubs and perennials.  Many are decidedly in need of serious haircuts and division.  I’m working through it as best I can, while simutaneously trying to eradicate scutch grass and a couple of horribly invasive weeds that have worked their way in from the river’s edge.  The problem with getting rid of the pink is that the main feature of the big border is four standard roses which are… you guessed it, PINK.  The pink itself is a lovely clear pink, but it is a pink that doesn’t want to go with any other colour.  As you can see, it demands attention and everything else pales beside it.  Worse still, it is swamped by Johnson’s Blue geranium run amok.  Pink and pale blue.  Yes, I know, it screams of the 1980s.  Dare I mention the pink astilbe which has made gargantuan clumps and totally clashes with the rose?  No, I dare not.

Close-up of the standard rose

I may be bold and introduce some dark foliage.  I have a happy accident in one of my own stock beds (at the little garden) involving Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and Gertrude Jekyll (the rose, that is).  So it’s possible that some lovely rich-coloured foliage might sophisticate the border a bit, or at least take the smug look off the standard roses’ faces (lovely though they are).

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and Gertrude Jekyll

Back to work now.  I must go check the pea and broad bean seeds I have sown for overwintering.  And the tomatoes are screaming for me to clear them out of the tunnel.  A gardener’s work is never done (whether it’s in a big garden or a little garden).