Ginger lily is an exceptional plant

Arundel Castle gardens are still looking stunning at the moment - one of the most exceptional plants to look out for in the walled gardens are our Hedychium - Ginger Lily.

The foliage is very attractive and adds to a jungle effect within the tropical borders; a few good varieties are ‘Hedychium gardnerianum’ and ‘Hedychium coccineum’ they have spectacular flowers with a lovely strong scent. The Ginger Lilies are native to the Himalayas and found throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan and here in Britain are best planted in a sunny position and greatly benefit from the shelter of a south or west facing wall, we always give them a good mulch before winter sets in to protect the rhizomes from the cold.

This is a good time of the year to focus on your lawn, mowing should become less frequent as the grass growth slows down. Remove the ‘thatch’, which is the dead grass and other debris on your lawn that restricts air movement around the grass and can cause surface drainage problems if left over time. There are numerous ways of removing the thatch, for smaller lawns I would recommend using a wire spring-tined rake; if you have a large lawn I would suggest hiring a scarifier which will remove the thatch with little effort.

After scarifying the lawn you need to aerate it , like most plants grass needs air and during the summer will have compacted considerably, especially from constant mowing and heavy activity from children’s use during the summer holidays, in my son’s case football, cricket and tennis, albeit limited to the back garden! You can aerate the lawn with a folk pushed into the ground, to a depth of approximately 4-6 inches and about 10 inches apart; again if you have a large lawn you can hire an aeration machine, top dress immediately after aeration with a mix of top soil, sharp sand and sieved garden compost, then give your lawns an autumn feed, reseed worn patches or turf it.

In the organic kitchen garden the ‘Swiss Chard’ – ‘Bright Lights’ gives a spectacular display of brightly coloured stems in red, yellow and white with lovely large green leaves, it tastes similar to spinach and is full of iron, the joy of this plant is that the more you pick it the more fresh leaves appear and can last throughout the winter. It can also be used in a border as a foliage plant with the added benefit of it being edible!

A few tips from the Arundel Castle garden team:

l Cut down asparagus foliage that is turning brown, once it’s cut down give it a good top dressing of organic mulch/manure.

l Plant out your spring cabbages, remember to cover the plants with netting or fleece as the pigeons will feast on them before you know it!

l Divide your perennials when they have finished flowering, or if the clumps are old and spreading too far. Any divisions you don’t need give to a friend.

l Make sure you have lifted you main crop potatoes by the end of month, you can store them in hessian or paper sacks, ensuring they are in a dark frost free storage area.

l Plant out autumn onion sets.

For further information on Arundel Castle opening times, tours and events please visit www.arundelcastle.org.

The castle is open until Sunday 4thNovember 2012 (Tuesday to Sunday weekly).

23 September : Pirate Days

Raven Tor craft and combat demonstrations, and Story Teller.

Martin Duncan - Arundel Castle Head Gardener