To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

John Keats September 1919

By Gordon the Gardener

It was certainly a summer to remember, ending with drought conditions and a hosepipe ban.

The watering had to be kept a constant eye on – especially the plants which were in window boxes and hanging baskets.

It was a good year to grow tomatoes. I hadn’t gown any since the 1970s but, like riding a bike, you never forget and I was blessed with a fine crop.

But the seasons move on, the rain has returned and we are hurtling into autumn.

At a campsite in Mablethorpe last year one plant that caught my eye was Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’, otherwise known as the Chinese Rice Paper Plant. It took my fancy so I decided to grow one.

I purchased the plant from a nursery following three months on a waiting list (the plant is in demand). It arrived in June 2021 just a small specimen. It was over-wintered in my frost-free greenhouse and potted into a very large pot in June this year. See the main image above.

It grows into a very big jungle-like plant up to 7ft tall with a 4ft spread so needs a lot room. It is a native of Taiwan.

It has been outside all summer and is somewhat hardy in the UK. I will have to see how it survives its first winter in Huddersfield.

Is your lawn looking a bit sorry for itself?

How’s your lawn after some scorching summer sun and drought conditions? Autumn is the time to be re-seeding bare patches that may have appeared. The surface of the soil can be cultivated and seed sown and watered in.

People often ask about the best way to create a new lawn. My advice is to grow it from seed rather than lay turf.

Go to a good nursery and ask what types of seed they have. Do you want it hard wearing for a child’s play area? Or do you want a fine, striped lawn? The result will be better than laying expensive turf.

Preparation is the key. If replacing an existing worn-out lawn dig over the surface, removing any big stones (small ones can be buried). Rake the surface keeping it level to a fine tilth. Allow the soil to settle.

The seed can then be sown at a rate of 2oz per two yards allowing for the birds. It doesn’t take that long to get a lawn established from seed, and you will have more control over the end result.

Spring flowering bulbs – one of nature’s greatest gifts – can be planted now, but hold on until November before you plant tulips. Planting into soil that’s still warm can induce fungus disease.

Growing tomatoes is like riding a bike. You never forget!

The Harrogate Autumn Flower Show is a highlight for gardeners everywhere, whether showing produce or not. The show takes place from September 16-18.

Held for the first time in 2021 at Newby Hall near Ripon, HG4 5AE, the show was a real success.

A lot of work has been put in at Newby Hall. The venue was well suited as a show ground in a beautiful setting in the grounds of the hall. I spoke to visitors who really enjoyed it.

Car parking was close by so no buses were needed to get there. Put simply it got the thumbs up all round. Your admission ticket to the show also gets you in to see the hall’s wonderful well-kept gardens as well.

Catch up on Gordon’s monthly gardening blogs right HERE