Lucy Halliday, Head Gardener, Clovelly Court Gardens

Winter is close

Amazingly the mild damp weather continues although the light levels are now signalling to the plants that winter is close. The dahlias, hanging on till the last, have finally stopped flowering even if the grass is still growing! Turf growth is negligible below 5-6 Celsius but even at night our temperatures have regularly been 7-9. This is giving the sward a great chance to recover and thicken up again following the summer drought. This week has seen the steep banks of the lawned terraces get what we hope will be their final haircut of the season.

Thinking of next year, we have been potting on some glasshouse bulbs for next spring. These include scented hyacinths which we will ‘force’ for early flowering. We have also used some rainy afternoons to carry on propagating plants for sale next year.

Many happy customers left the garden this year happily carrying the offspring of our ginger lilies, gazanias and heritage vegetable plants, for example. We know how much visitors like to take a souvenir plant home so we are working to bulk up on tender Clovelly walled garden classics like pelargoniums, zantedeschias, osteospermums and fuchsias.

Weeding work continues, working from off the paths even in the heavy rain, as has mulching.  Rain and leaves make for a tricky combination in some parts of the garden.  So to avoid flooding in the woodland walk we have been giving much needed attention to the drains and gullies, which make this area of the gardens such a wonderful place for wildlife. As well as fantastic horticultural specimens, such as the original Victorian plantings of Gunnera tinctoria or Giant Bolivian Rhubarb! This work, to clear many of the gullies, will continue into next week to help avoid winter waterlogging.