An Autumnal Garden at Stoneywell
As autumn makes its way to Stoneywell the garden begins to hide underneath an overcoat of red and orange hues, as misty mornings see the cottage and garden peeking out from beneath a wispy grey blanket.
In September, the harebells (campanula rotundifolia) are still showing off their wonderful display in the meadows. Sometimes known as witches thimbles, harebells provide a much needed source of nectar for bumblebees bobbing about in the heathland.
Once the harebells have finished flowering the next job on the agenda for the volunteer gardening team is mowing the meadows, and raking up the hay afterwards! Some of this hay is then used for habitat piles, as the wildlife begin to think about their winter dwellings.
Magnolia Ann can also be found flowering for a second time, down by the cottage in the bed next to the woodsheds, taking in the sweet fragrance as you enjoy the last of the autumnal sunshine on the bench is definitely a great way to spend a peaceful afternoon.
When October tiptoes up to us, the apples in the orchards are ready to be harvested. Both the Newton Wonder and Bramley Apples ripen in the Orchard alongside a Victoria Plum tree. If you’re lucky there might be some garden produce for sale in the Stable yard, but most will go to the tearoom, ready for baking fresh apple and caramel muffins each morning!
As the wetter weather begins, the garden team will start splitting the herbaceous plants and begin the leaf clearance. Leaves from last year have been slowly composting all year and will be used as leaf mould on the beds as an invaluable soil conditioner.
The pruning will also start on summer evergreen shrubs like the Redclaws (Escallonia), as the autumn flowering Rhododendrons begin to bud, getting ready to burst into flower and provide the garden with a fresh flash of colour.
Harvest is also here for the sweet chestnuts and the local squirrels are already eyeing up how ripe they are, ready to stash them away in secret places to tide them over the chilly winter months.
During November the garden team will ensure the compost bay is emptied before anything or anyone makes a home for the winter, and will be used in the kitchen garden. The composting works on a 3 year cycle and ensures the soil is very well cared for, which is important in such an acidic setting.
Bird boxes and hedgehog houses will be erected and checked, ready for the critters to begin their winter shelter.
Pink and white cyclamen will soon be brightening up the borders with their delicate petals and nodding heads. Acer trees add a bright vibrant shot of red and orange leafs fluttering in the breeze and on clear blue days the contrast against sky is stunning.