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Enjoying the stunning Autumn colour

Date: November 19 2015    By: Ashburnham Place     Category: Grounds and Gardens

I am writing this on a very grey and wet day, it is a shame not to be outside enjoying the stunning Autumn colour in the woods here. Deciduous trees change colour due to changes to the chlorophyll in the leaves, this gives them the green colour they show for most of the year but starts to break down before the leaves fall. Other pigments then take over giving us a lovely show of yellow, red and orange colours. The intensity of colour varies each year due to temperature, light levels and how much rainfall we have. Generally speaking the colder, brighter and drier it is the better the colours. Having said that, the display is always lovely even if it is a bit more muted some years than others.

A friend who visited at the weekend managed to get out with his camera and take some lovely shots, including this one to remind us all of the beauty of our grounds at this time of year. 


Broadwater - Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts.


I have spent a couple of days this week digging up all the summer bedding from the three beds at the bottom of the Orangery steps and planting up the winter/spring bedding. Over the summer we had a display of Chlorophtyum (better known as Spider Plants), Pelargoniums with vivid pink flowers and Laurentia with its little blue star shaped flowers. As it has been relatively mild, all of these were still flowering and looking good but the new plants waiting in the wings were outgrowing their pots and needed to go out. We propagate from the Spider Plants each year, if you’ve ever grown them in the house you’ll know that they throw out long flowering stems with new little plants at the end. These root very readily so we put them into trays of potting compost and wait a few weeks for them to root before potting them on and nurturing them ready for next year’s display.                                                                        


Chlorophytum plantlets

We are also potting up the Pelargoniums which we’ll keep in our unheated greenhouse over the winter, ready to take cuttings from next year. 

For the winter/spring bedding this year I’ve chosen Sweet William, blue, purple and white Pansies and Forget me Not, along with a pastel mix of tulips – the same tulips as last year because they worked very well with the spring flowers coming up in the West Garden. I spent Wednesday clearing out the summer bedding, digging the soil over, clipping the grass edges, adding fertiliser and walking over the ground to compact the soil a bit ready for planting.

On Thursday I brought all the plants up from the Walled Garden and worked out the planting pattern. I put the tulips in first then added the bedding plants in various combinations. The planting is made easier by some tools that Gordon made for us to use. They are like the bulb planters that you can get at the garden centre but the planting section has been made to fit the pots and cells that we use for growing our plants on. It means we can make planting holes easily that are just the right size for our new plants – it’s also much easier on my back! 



Our planters made by Gordon

I’m looking forward to seeing how the plants grow and look over winter and spring, they have certainly been well watered in by the rain yesterday and today!


One of the newly planted beds


Since I last wrote, lots of work has been going on the in the Kitchen Garden, weeding and mulching with compost as well as digging up the last of the summer crops. We have been picking beetroot, celeriac and tomatoes. In fact I enjoyed a piece of quiche today made by our chef, Dennis, and one of the ingredients was golden beetroot from the garden. Jim and his team are preparing garlic to plant over the winter which will be available to buy in the Kitchen Garden Shop next year.

By the end of November we will all be busy making Christmas wreaths and table decorations for the house and for sale. Don’t forget we are running wreath making workshops on Wednesday 25th & Saturday 28th November. It’s a good opportunity to learn how to make wreaths from scratch using natural materials which we gather onsite. Check out the website for more information about timings and booking up.

Jay Ashworth

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