Thursday, 22 August 2013

Autumn Notes from the Garden

Above: an unusual image of Fairlynch Museum with agapanthus in the foreground

Anne Hurt, pictured below, writes:

For 17 years I have been working as a volunteer at Fairlynch, and by now I do believe I know every single plant, tree or shrub that grows there. Sometimes there used to be up to nine of us, all under the supervision and guidance of Mrs Jenefer Slater. It was she who is responsible for the design and structural planting which is so excellent in framing the Regency cottage. Only indigenous plants or plants introduced to this country before 1812 were allowed. We still try to adhere to this plan.

Jenefer had to be strict with us volunteers, as we all came with our own ideas of how gardening should be done, and we all thought we knew the best. The garden is meant to be a cottage garden, in style with the building, and not a municipal run of the mill garden full of bedding plants.

Since the soil is very poor free-draining sandstone and needs constant replenishment our compost-making is vey important, but sadly we are not doing well.
If anybody reading this has a spare supply of leafmould compost or horse manure, please let me know.


I soon learned that some of my favourite herbaceous plants would not do, as being exposed to salt-laden wind and rain make it hard for them to survive.
We do have some old fashioned roses, which I do love, but it is a stuggle and they never seem to thrive. Otherwise, with all the Mediterranean shrubs and plants that are doing well the garden is low maintenance.

After such a good season there will be a lot of pruning shrubs and trees that have outgrown their space, and there is always replacement work to do. I have stopped taking it as a personal insult when a plant dies, and think of it instead as an opportunity to plant something news.


One year we planted two mulberry trees (Morus alba) to feed the silkworms that someone had obtained. It would have been nice to show how silk was made from the start to finished scarf.
Sadly the mulberries did not thrive and we never had enough leaves to satisfy the silkworms’ voracious appetites.

Left: Visitors are greeted by a fine display of Helianthus at the steps leading to the Garden.
Californian poppies, elscholtzias, are easy to grow in almost any soil 
We are always very insect-friendly and never use chemical sprays if we can help it, so there is still ground elder, bindweeds and other weeds to annoy me. A few nettle plants are allowed as they are good for butterflies and their presence means that the soil is not too bad! There is always room for improvement and like all gardeners I’m looking forward to next season no matter what Mother Nature has got up her sleeve to test us.

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