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Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - October 2017

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In mid-September, it is already feeling like winter is closing in with low temperatures and very dull weather with a lot of rain.

  We seem to have had alternating high temperatures with drought conditions and periods of cool with a lot of rain throughout the summer.  The vegetable garden has particularly suffered as all the water we have is collected rain water; when it doesn’t rain for six weeks, we have to carry water some distance which is very hard work.  At least in the garden, we can use a hose when needs must, but this has not been often this summer, fortunately.

Our beloved meadow has really suffered this year as we have still not managed to get the hay cut.  The person who usually cuts it has not been available and ever since I found someone else who wanted the hay, there have not been the four rain-free days he requires for the job. Sadly, I think it will have to be simply cut and left in-situ which is unfortunate.  Cultivation of a species-rich wild flower meadow requires the reduction of fertility by removing the hay.  This will set us back, but there is nothing we can do about it.

The recent poor weather through August and September seems to have slowed flowering on later flowering plants.  I have some very healthy-looking Cosmos plants (thank you, Pat!) which are mostly only just starting to develop flower buds.  This is very unusual.  The most dramatic change in plant behaviour is that of a mature Lemon Verbena which is a beautiful lemon sherbet-smelling herb.  It is tender, but for some reason it likes its spot outside our back door and comes back every year.  Usually I have a constant fight all summer to stop it flowering in order to keep the leaves young and tender; currently it looks very healthy and is about eight feet tall with no sign of flowering at all.  My Fuchsia collection are also mostly just getting going with flowering.  I wonder how far away the first frost is?

In the meantime, I have been busy taking out plants I have fallen out with; these include a Clerodendron with really unusual flowers in autumn, but which, this summer, has displayed an extremely worrying ambition to take over the world.  My better half kindly dug out the most stubborn bits.  I always take the view that death of plants in the garden represents an opportunity for buying something new (I buy very few plants these days).  A trip to a nursery in Great Missenden has resulted in the purchase of several unfamiliar plants at very reasonable prices compared to large garden centres; I will return.  It remains to be seen whether the fact that they are uncommon means they are no good!

In the greenhouse, I am harvesting the last of the tomatoes and taking cuttings from favourite tender plants.  I usually take cuttings in the spring, but have decided to try September in order to have good sized plants for next spring; I saw the result of September cuttings in a beautiful private garden in Berkshire and was impressed enough to try.  I also need to take cuttings of a Lavender which we have growing in two small hedges.  Two plants did not overwinter so I need to replace them with identical plants.  If I have more losses this winter (I suspect from too much wet) I will remove the rest of the plants and have a rethink.

There is always something new to try and new to learn in the garden and the garden never stands still and is never finished.  I am constantly surprised by unintended planting combinations; that is the beauty of gardening.

Liz Moyses

For membership details (cost only £5 per family per year), please contact the membership secretary, Carys Lindsay
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