After the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness November can feel like the turning of the year and it truly can be a capricious month. At any moment warmth can be stolen away and replaced by winter chill, as William Cullen Bryant captured it. “Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! One mellow smile through the soft vapory air, Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run, Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.”
In the Goldstone gardens November is about two things, making the most of what remains and preparing for the year to come. Our final pumpkins and squashes have been brought in from the Ellerton terrace and put in the poly tunnel for the skins to harden. The better to preserve the flesh within. When cutting pumpkins from the vine always leave a length of stalk back to the nearest leaves. This ‘handle’ not only makes them easier to carry but as it dries our it stops any rot from the fleshy stalk going back into the fruit.
As the weather has gotten colder Sarah has also been busy planting garlic cloves taken from last year’s heads. Garlic plants are perfectly hardy but they require a period of cold and like a long growing period so they are usually planted at this time. We grow both ‘hard’ and ‘soft; neck garlic the main difference being that although hard neck varieties are hardier and closer to wild garlic they don’t always store as long as soft necks and produce a flower or scape which must be removed.
Many of the vegetable beds have been cleared and will be left fallow over winter. They have been treated to a generous dose of good well-rotted manure. Manure is invaluable in feeding the soil and helping create a good soil structure. We leave it on top of the beds for the winter weather to break down before digging it in in the spring. It’s not just the outside beds that receive this treatment. The poly tunnel has been cleared of the tomatoes, beans and other summer residents and we have been bringing manure in here too. This process will continue over winter as more beds become empty.
Whilst some things are finished other crops such as parsnips are just coming into their own. We grow the variety ‘Everest’ which produces long white roots that our head chef has been turning into a warming winter soup. Just the thing to restore a little vitality on cold wet days.
In the rest of the garden the main herbaceous display is largely over but it is an excellent time to plant bulbs for the following spring and summer. In the wild flower area a mixture of Tulip sylvestris, Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus and Camassisa have been planted under the cherry trees. Camassias hail from bulb rich meadows in North America where they were an important food source for First Nation peoples. Indeed, Lewis and Clark might have perished if not for a preparation of cooked Camassia made by Sacagawea. The bulbs themselves are good for naturalising though I don’t think they will be appearing on the menu any time soon!
From the Goldstone Garden Team.
A Georgian manor house and restaurant with 12 comfortable bedrooms overlooking the rolling tree-strewn hills of the North Shropshire countryside. Boasting 5 acres of award-winning gardens, including a productive one-acre kitchen garden.