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Archive for October, 2011

Jerusalem artichokes-Ooh, how I’ve missed them! These delicious knobbly vegetables are little nuggets of pure joy! Stuck indoors all week with a nasty cold, I finally summoned up enough energy to shuffle along to my allotment today. And this is my reward above.

Just digging them up is so exciting, as a mound of tubers is revealed just below the surface of the soil. With each plant I dig up, I normally put back one tuber into the soil, planting about 4-5 inches (10-12cm) deep and 1.5-2 ft (45-60cm) apart, so that I can have the same again next year, but chances are that I will have missed a tuber or two, so they’ll return whether wanted or not!

If you want to start a new patch of Jerusalem Artichokes, these can be planted from now until March, but be careful where you locate them as plants can grow up to 6ft (2m) tall.

I thought my scales might not take the load, as my first autumn harvest weighed in at a massive 3.4 kg or 7.5lbs. Jono, who writes the very entertaining Real Men Sow blog, delights in adding up how much his allotment fruit and veg has saved him. I thought I’d give this a go with my Jerusalem Artichokes, but Waitrose (yes, this is my nearest) won’t have them in their supermarkets until mid November, so I’ll have to postpone my calculations until then. And how fab that by growing your own, you can get hold of seasonal veg when available nowhere else. In fact Jerusalem Artichokes can be harvested for about 6 months, from October until March, but strangely, they must be one of the most difficult non-exotic veg to buy that I know of. With thin skins, they don’t store well once dug up, but unlike potatoes, you can cut down the stems once frosted, and leave the tubers in the soil until ready to be eaten all the way through winter.

Luckily, friend Valerie gave me some tubers to grow last year, but both knobbly Jerusalem Artichokes (as above) and the smoother Fuseau variety can be bought from most seed suppliers including Marshalls and the Victoriana Nursery .

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This summer I’ve felt rather disappointed with the lack of flowers on some of my Agapanthus plants, despite coaxing with seaweed feed and daily watering. But nearing the end of October, just as the clocks are about to go back, this little flower head is doing its best to bloom. With frosts just around the corner, I doubt if it’ll make it to full size, but amazing to see it nonetheless, and interesting that finally enough accumulated heat and rain has triggered this Agapanthus into flowering a whole 3 months later than usual.

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I can’t remember if it was the great signage or the satnav that brought us to the glorious Jardin Plume,

seemingly springing-up from nowhere in the middle of surrounding fields.

After a rainy drive down, the skies started to clear as I wandered through the tempting nursery area into the orchard of the main garden.

What hits you first is the sense of space, which affords the opportunity to plant a whole series of large beds which in turn create rhythms throughout the garden.

Nine separate gardens are planted to perform at their best at different times of the year, and arriving in mid September, the Autumn garden was a dream to enter into. I almost felt hugged by the plants as I slowly wandered amongst the swaying grasses, gazed at the Persicarias (in all shapes and sizes), marveled at oodles of Verbena bonariensis and took in the heady scent of and glowing wands of Cimifuga atropurpurea. There’s a lot packed into this garden! Visiting a friend’s garden in Walthamstow recently, at over 6ft tall, he explained that he liked to plant huge grasses and other large plants as he like the sense of feeling small and contained. I think he would love to be in this garden.

Surrounded by curvy hornbeam hedging, the garden is created as small blocks within a larger block. Each block has its own mini theme which in turn ties in to a larger theme.

The result is lush,

and joyous,

floriferous,

and playful,

and full of bees and butterflies. I loved it.

Tearing myself away from the Autumn garden, there was plenty more to see, with a strong sense of design running throughout the gardens. The spring garden was packed  with Astrantias in their second flush amongst huddles of sensuous box balls-

clipped to perfection.

From spring to summer was a tad more of the formal side, with box hedging containing hot reds and yellows tempered by more varieties of grasses.

All gardens lead back to the calm and spacious orchard where you can sit back and take time to enjoy this thoughtful garden.

(more…)

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