I know I promised you more on the Orangery – figs, pomegranates and so on – but writing about such things, until we get ourselves sorted out for winter, seems premature.
As usual, we had our first frost on Thanksgiving. The gardens are pretty much finished for the year – onions and carrots in the ground still but they will be harvested soon and some Swiss chard which we are nurturing for as long as possible. Our season for visitors has ended. But not the work!
Now comes a long list of garden tasks including weeding, tidying, bulb planting, leaf raking and piling,mulching, pruning and clipping where needed, sorting out the compost area and so on, not to mention the time consuming job of ‘wrapping’. During the next month and a half over 2,000 wooden stakes will be driven into the ground around more than 500 trees and shrubs which will be covered with a white felt-like fabric. Two cedar hedges, each more than 200 feet long, have to be wrapped with this same resilient, long-lasting material. All this wrapping does three things: protects the plants from the wind which could desiccate them, reflects the sun to prevent freeze/thaw and prevents deer from munching on them in the winter.
Some sections of the garden are already wrapped! We'll need to do this for more than 500 trees and shrubs before the winter sets in.
October is a bit late to be planting daffodils but we had trouble with our order this year which accounts for the lag. We will plant them along with crocus (because we love them even though we know the chipmunks and squirrels will probably dig them up), tulips (ditto) and eremurus (also known as the foxtail lily which can grow up to six feet tall in June. Note: – they hate wet feet so if you have dense or clay soil put a layer of sand under their spidery roots). And in the new, ‘north front’ beds beside the Orangery doors we’re adding scilla, Allium nectaroscordum siculum (Mediterranean bells) and muscari. We also plant next year’s crop of garlic in the walled kitchen garden in October. It will be harvested next August.
Pumps have to be removed from ponds and fountains until spring. This is a really cold job in October because you have to get in the water to retrieve them. And there are several dead elm trees (so sad) that have to be removed. Benches and chairs have to be stored and the new top on the maze tower must be taken down and put into storage along with antique gates and pots and planters that can’t take freezing weather. Pots that remain outside for the winter have to be wrapped in plastic to keep them dry and free from frost damage.
- Shutting down the fountains is a really cold job in October because you have to get in the water to retrieve the pumps!
Many non-hardy plants are being moved into our orangery to keep our new fig tree company. We received this welcome gift from neighbour and artist Chris Broadhurst, a keen plantsman and grower of the world’s most delicious figs. Pond plants also come in and water lilies are lowered to the bottom of ponds where possible.
Looking back over the year, it was a challenging time what with March being so warm, April so cold and then the long drought. The trees, shrubs and plants (not to mention the gardeners) were so confused, they didn’t flower at all or they flowered twice or their bloom was half the normal size. In spite of it all, we got a lot done.
The new Jubilee pond, built this year, is almost full of water and ready for winter and its role next year as an irrigation source. The Orangery, while not yet finished inside, is protecting our tender plants. It is weatherproof, waterproof and warm. As always we will be on the lookout for white fly and aphids which seem, no matter how careful you are, to hatch inside over the winter.
The maze continues to amaze us with wonderful growth that after only 3 years has reached seven feet high and required it’s first major haircut. The tower in the maze was completed early this year when its golden, antique fleur-de-lys top was installed – it looks great against the dark pine background.
Finally, the tool and equipment shed built in 1995, has been completely renovated, tarted up and turned into a gorgeous gift shop filled with SpindleTree souvenirs (tee shirts, hats, clothing, aprons), wonderful artisan creations from our local craftspeople and useful items for gardeners hands, fingers, feet and hearts!
We’ll be repairing benches and gates, painting the miniature buildings that act as croquet hoops (they’ve taken a real beating over the years), cleaning equipment and working in the Orangery and greenhouse getting ready for opening day in Spring, 2013. I’ll be resuming the blog in January and will let you know of our progress then. Wish us luck… there’s a long road ahead between now and then!
If you visited us this past year, thank you for coming to SpindleTree. If you missed us in 2012, there is a brand new season just waiting round the corner – we open with our gala Mother’s Day Tea on Sunday, 12 May, 2013. And yes, you can make reservations for this delicious event now…. just give us a call or email. See you then! And our best wishes for happy holidays to you and your family!
Next time: Snowing, blowing and growing….