EARLY November is a lovely time of year to stretch your legs and go for a long walk on a bright frosty morning to admire the last of the spectacular leaf colour of autumn with the crunch of the leaves underfoot.
Deciduous trees and shrubs drop leaves in Autumn by a process known as senescence briefly meaning that the pigment (colour) in the leaves are masked for most of the year by green (chlorophyll), this then starts to break down, and the other pigments show through, to give us stunning yellows ,oranges, reds and purples.
The optimum conditions for a stunning autumn show are sunny days followed by cold nights.
Here are a few suggestions for planting next year’s autumn colour in your garden.
Shrubs: Cercidiphyllum japonicum – multicoloured autumn leaves with a toffee smell, Cotinus coggygria royal purple – known as the smoke bush.
Rhus typhina – known as stags horn which has stunning autumn colour.
Climbers: Pathenocissus tricuspidata - Virginia creeper – maple like green leaves which turn to stunning rich tones of crimson and scarlet.
Grows rapidly to a height of 18 metres. Vitis coignetiae – ornamental grape vine which turns wonderful shades of yellow, reds and finally to purple.
Trees: for small gardens Prunus sargentil, Sorbus Joseph rock. Larger gardens Liquidamber styraciflia or parrotia Persia.
We are busy collecting all the leaves so that they can be composted to make an excellent soil conditioner.
The best way to do this is ensure the leaves are moist before putting them into a compost bin, add some grass clippings then turn the heap to help the rotting down process, usually from 8 to 15 months, this is sometime known as black gold to gardeners.
Although we are now sadly closed to the public until spring, the garden team will be working throughout the winter with Her Grace on new projects to ensure we have new and innovative areas to be enjoyed by our fellow garden enthusiasts.
Over the last few weeks we have been lifting and dividing our herbaceous perennials such a Monarda digima, Rudbekia goldstrum, Archemilla mollis to name but a few.
This is a good way of obtaining plants for other parts of your garden as well as giving away to family and friends.
In the organic kitchen garden we are harvesting the last of our late crop of apples, Egremont russet, Winston long keeper and Ashmedes kernel.
The summer raspberry stems are being cut back and new stems tied in.
For the castle we are harvesting vegetables such as our Swiss chard, Curley Kale, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, cabbages and beetroots and we have just picked the first Brussels sprouts.
Tips from the castle garden team:
Ideal time to plant your tulips and hyacinths.
Last chance to plant your daffodils and narcissus bulbs.
This is a good time to plant fruit trees.
Plant and move bare rooted trees, shrubs and roses.