It’s October and despite the rather wet weather the trees are still putting on a good show. An explosion of colour has erupted from Marwood’s woodland canopy. Flame-like reds and oranges, cooler lemon-yellows vie for attention against the richer, buttery tones. Trees that have been quite indistinguishable during spring and summer suddenly draw attention.
Starting at the top of the valley. Planted near the large metal bridge, which spans the stream above upper lake. Taxodium distichum trees (swamp cypress) provide unusual autumn colour. Described by one gardener as big ball of rust; their feathery orange-brown foliage certainly does stand out. Following the path round the lake you pass a butter yellow leaved Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) with its distinctively two lobed leaves and onwards towards the astilbe beds dominated by a Persian Ironwood tree (Parrotia persica) with its low dome of orange-red foliage. Next comes Cornus kousa ‘Marwood Dawn’ known more for its spectacular flower, but in October its leaves turn a vibrant orange colour. Thirdly a magnificent Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonica) which in addition to orange and pink-flecked yellow leaves, which gives off an intense perfume of burnt sugar.
Heading on to the bottom of middle lake you are met by two coppiced Indian Horse chestnut trees, their large lemon yellow leaves light up this corner of the garden. Continuing down along past the bog garden, the unusual Nyssa sinensis (Tupelo) catches eyes with its bright scarlet-red leaf colour and its neighbour Stewartia pseudocamellia offers equally impressive mottled orange-red leaves. Pass along bottom lake where two Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) take centre stage with their impressive large glossy leaves in green, purple, red patch work foliage.
Travelling back up the valley in the direction of the scree beds you pass, a grove of Manchurian striped maple (Acer tegmentosum ‘White Tigress’) with their green and white striped bark contesting well with yellow-orange leaves. Continue on past the rarely seen Oxydendron arboretum with its large blood red leaves and nearby Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ looks almost as if it is on fire and end the tour with a group of Acer griseum with their impressive cinnamon coloured peeling bark and dark red leaves.
In the garden the main job at this time of year is leaf clearance. 20 acres of woodland, means Marwood’s leaf blower has been in constant use this past week. Groups of keen volunteers have been helping gather up large piles of leaves into dumpy bags. Our leaf bins are beginning to fill up, which with time and care will be transformed into dark fertile leaf compost ideal mulch in spring.
Some bed renovation has been carried out, especially along the top lane, where new planting has taken place at the entrance to the garden. The dam area has been planted up with several creeping conifers, junipers and Podocarpus. These quick growing conifers will quickly form a green carpet of differing hues complementing the existing conifers in this area. All of this planting will be covered in a layer of composted bark chip, ideal to suppress weed growth over the winter month.
Mowing and brush cutting within the garden continues as the grass is still very actively growing. For any garden visitor with a discerning eye, you many notice the autumn flowering snowdrops popping up Galanthus reginae-olgae.
Tips for your Garden
- Begin pruning summer flowering shrubs such as Hydrangea and Deutzia.
- Regenerative pruning of shrubs such as Mahonia, Ligustrum and Berberis can also be carried out this time of year.
- Construct leaf bins and compost heaps to store collected leaves from your garden
- Continue to mow lawns if needed but watch out for emerging bulbs such as early daffodils and snowdrops.
- Remove old Hellebore leaves when you see signs of new flower buds emerging.
- Cut back, Lift and divide herbaceous borders in preparation for next year’s display
Plant of the month: Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’
With its distinctive late flowering dark blue hooded flowers, this plant commonly known as monkshood or wolfbane, it is as poisonous as its name suggests. It has attracted a lot of attention from garden visitors and despite having poisonous roots with care it makes an extremely attractive and useful addition to any garden. Regrettably, we do not currently stock this plant in our plant sales area, but we are looking to procure some for sale next year.
October has been a highly successful month, the 20% plant sale in our walled garden nursery was a great success and the decision to keep the garden open seems to have paid off with a steady stream of garden visitors. I am very much looking forwards to seeing what November will bring. It will not be long before we see Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ and scented Rhododendron sestrianum emerge in bloom.