Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Autumn bliss

I love autumn. The first rains of the season have soaked into the parched earth, and the sun is no longer so searingly and viciously hot. I was delighted to find a source of horse manure and got 20 huge bags which I spread over the entire garden. There was quite a bit of straw mixed in, which adds to the good effect. The chickens did a good job of distributing the heaps that I left in the beds, working it in nicely by their vigorous scratching . Already I can see many plants looking much invigorated.

I'm a dangerous person at this time of year. Always armed with secateurs and pruning shears, I'm on the lookout for plants that are taking over or past their prime and just about everything gets trimmed. Perennial basil has been cut back and the leaves are drying for a delicious addition to winter meals. The Verbena officinalis gets trimmed to ground level and already new leaves are forming. It is such a good herb for nerves and the liver. From one lonely self-seeded plant, I now have many, as I was careful to leave them in place and just cut them back. They have quite tough roots, so also help stabilise the soil. My first harvest of Hyssopus has been cut, and I hope it sprouts back nicely next year. I lost one bush, due to it being a favourite pee spot for my dog.

Hypericum is growing everywhere, but I simply can't have too much, so I allow it to self seed liberally. It also helps keep the soil in place - my beds are always under attack from the chickens. I made the most beautiful tincture of Hypericum this year, and would like to have enough for the practice each year. It is so much better than what I can buy!
The Echinaceas are now topped with dried seed heads, and these I leave on for self seeding. My Echinacea bed is getting bigger each year, but I still haven't got enough to harvest yet.
Pride of place goes to the Hawthorne tree, which is loaded with ripening berries. This will be a bumper crop!! But those pesky thorns........

Autumn is a very busy time in the garden, the preparation which is done now, will be rewarded in the spring. The cooler weather means more energy too. I find it a good time to take cuttings now. Quite a few plants produce side shoots at this time of year, so I nip them off and put them into pots for free extra plants. They are less likely to die from heat and drought. Most of my garden spaces are filled up with self propagated plants.

And when my bones are weary and the straggly garden has been neatened up, it's so nice to sit somewhere with a cup of tea, surveying a job well done!