Smell the leaves

Don’t you just love this time of year, when you step outside and the air is fresh and crisp and smells of spent leaves & roaring log fires, and we can finally layer up with those lovely woolly jumpers?! Remember, time for planting up your Spring bulbs is running out!

Get this Season’s Look!

This season’s look is inspired by long shadows and muted hues; the Walled Garden at Scampston Hall in North Yorkshire, designed by Piet Oudolf is a classic example of planting that looks gorgeous right now.  Unfortunately, the gardens are only open until the end of October, but its well worth planning a visit for 2011.

You too can get this look with robust perennials and grasses for contrasting colour, shape and texture.  Sedum telephium ‘Matrona’, is a good all-year plant, providing interest from Spring through late-Summer with its flowers, to seed heads in the Autumn which turn from dark red to a lustrous brown.  This particular variety of Astilbes Astilbe chinensis var. taquetii ‘Purpurlanze’, with its deep magenta plumes, is highly desirable, and mixes well with tawny and bleached grasses.  Just add some vintage garden furniture made of wood and cast-iron to taste, just check out the antique fairs and salvage yards, as opposed to John Lewis!

If you’re looking for a thoroughly inspirational gardening book, either for yourself or as a Christmas present, I can recommend ‘The Planting Design Book for the 21st Century’, by Diarmuid Gavin and Terence Conran – a huge and lavishly illustrated new tome that is full of inspiration from around the world.

Autumn Clear-up!

Spend a Sunday afternoon clearing out your greenhouse or shed and you’ll feel all the better for it; catch and re-home those spiders who have moved in over the past year, wash out your empty pots, dust off those seed trays and shine up those windows!  Make sure, however, that you use a biodegradable disinfectant.  I like the Bio-D product available from  It costs just £8.34 for 5L, is not tested on animals and contains, amongst other non-harmful substances, Eucalyptus, so it smells nice too!  Take time as well to check for leaks from the sills, rafters and guttering, a little TLC will stop a tiny concern from becoming an expensive problem.

Create your own Wildlife Habitat

Do your bit to protect our wildlife by creating your own ‘habitat pile’ in your garden, something that the kids will love to get involved in!  At this time of year, piles of leaves, grass and twigs will provide a valuable sheltered habitat for all sorts of creatures, from slugs and bugs to hedgehogs and larger mammals, which will use the leaves for nesting and feed off the decomposing wood.

The piles can be hidden out of site behind your shed, or left to decompose at the back of borders, and sheltered areas are best.  To prevent your compost becoming a home to any rodents, avoid putting things like meat, bones and cooked kitchen scraps onto the heap.  And, of course, beware of turning your compost with a fork, you don’t want to endanger any little animals who have made it their home.

Remember to check your logs for hibernating beetles and caterpillars before putting them onto the fire.  And take care not to disturb hibernating butterflies in the shed which may be disguised as leaves with their folded wings.

Your garden bird-feeders should be cleaned, as old nuts and seeds can become wet and mouldy over time and half-fill them on a regular basis to save waste.  The RSPB website has a wide range of squirrel proof bird feeders from just £2.99 upwards.

For more information on caring for your local wildlife over the winter months, download one of the many factsheets from St Tiggy Winkles, the wildlife hospital in Buckinghamshire.  And remember to check your bonfires for hedgehogs before you light them on Guy Fawkes!

Do you know your Paperwhites from your Paperweights?!

I would like to introduce you to the Paperwhite, a beautiful annual white Narcissus, sweet scented and for indoor decoration.  Its not too late to plant for Christmas and the New Year, just follow these simple instructions using the ‘next’ button to scroll through the 6 pages.

Happy Halloween!

Helen Reeley