October Jobs in the Mediterranean Garden,
Seasonable & Sustainable
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We are passionate about plants!
“The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world and am free.
Trees are perhaps our most important heritage and yet we tend to treat them badly, with no respect and little caring. Surely it’s not really hard to understand that they are the lungs of our earth and they drive our entire ecosystem. Apparently 80% of the known species of animals and plants live within forests. A treeless world would be a desert - a physical desert and a desert to our souls and minds. They provide food,
medicine and habitat for most land livers; they clean our air, water and protect our soils; they shelter us from wind and provide shade; and give us a seemingly endless supply of resources. And yet we have, and continue to, over-harvest. It is estimated that 36 football fields of trees are cut down worldwide every single minute and, worse still, they are hauled away. There is no gentle decomposing of old age to help all the
little beasties and nourish the soil for the next generation. It takes an average of 30 years for a tree to reach maturity, be at its productive best, and every single tree helps. It’s up to us as home gardeners; we can make a huge difference as our governments seem to be ignoring the problem. Happily we don´t live in suburbia but, even there, a tree and a few pollinator-welcoming plants are so much better than a concrete square
to park the car! The majority of us living here have the opportunity to do so much more. So don´t waste any more time – plant a tree now or, better still, a few!
This not only nourishes our struggling world but helps our small business too!
As Dr. Seuss once said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Important Days to Remember this Month:
1 st October: Viveros Florena changes to winter hours, 10 until 4 and closed on Sundays and Mondays, as always.
International Day for Older Persons
International Coffee Day – come and have a free one with us!
World Vegetarian Day
2 nd October: Gandhi Jayanti Day celebrates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi
4 th October: World Animal Welfare Day
5 th October: World Teacher’s Day
9 th October: World Post Office Day
10 th October: World Mental Health Day
11 th October: International Day of the Girl Child
13 th October: World Calamity Control Day
14 th October: Viveros Florena Food and Health Market re-opens! 10am until 2pm
And talk/workshop by Renate of Health Corner demonstrating The Healy, a digital monitoring device effective in the relief of chronic pain and depression.
15 th October: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Global Handwashing Day
World White Cane Day
World Students Day
16 th October: World Food Day
17 th October: International Poverty Eradication Day
24 th October: United Nations Day
30 th October: World Thrift Day
Moon Phases: 1 st and 31 st October full moons; 16 th October new moon.
October’s Birth Flowers: Cosmos flowers symbolise order, peace and serenity. Spanish missionaries in Mexico cultivated cosmos and named it such from the Greek kosmos meaning harmony because of its evenly-positioned petals.
Planting: Springtime seems to get all the attention in our gardens but any gardener knows that it is autumn that is the key to it all! October is the start of the important planting months in Mediterranean climes; from now until end of March conditions are ideal. The soil is still warm so plants settle in quickly. Dewy mornings and, hopefully, more rain means that plants settle in quickly and root systems have a chance to
establish well and manage harsh conditions next year. It´s important to plant now any bulk plantings, hedges, deciduous trees and shrubs, climbers, perennials and groundcover – in fact, almost everything benefits from an early autumn planting and you’ll notice it by their ability to cope with the heat of next summer. Remember,
always work in some good quality compost to get your plants off to a good start and use mycorrhizal powder to increase the spread of roots.
On the Move: this is also a good month to move plants, so if you´ve got something in the wrong place, don´t despair! Cut it back very hard and lift with as much root-ball as possible before settling it into its new home. Make sure it stays well-watered until new roots venture out.
Hedging: comes in many shapes, sizes and forms and each has some advantage. But, if you’re a wild life supporter, think of a mixed hedgerow; it gives you an ever-changing tapestry of greenery, flowers and berries and shelters and succours a wide range of animals. For instance, have you ever noticed how often birds nest in prickly shrubs such as pomegranate, climbing roses and blackthorn? They provide great protection
against marauding animals. The rugosa roses make lovely spiney and tough hedging too with their lovely single flowers and big fat hips. Come and talk to us at Viveros Florena and we can give you some advice on suitable plantings.
Berries: talking wildlife, plants that berry are much loved and add a sparkle to our lives too on dull days. Some shrubs to try – pyracantha, duranta, lantana, cotoneaster, blackthorn, viburnum and the rugosa roses mentioned above. Some berrying trees are melia, sorbus, schinus molle and prunus avium or wild cherry. Without mentioning all our fruit trees which birds, insects and small mammals love too, of course – a tasty
Tidying: the movement to ‘greener’ gardens is definitely growing; away from formality and perfection to a more relaxed style of gardening creating wildlife havens. As leaves begin to fall, leave them on garden beds to rot down. However, there are a few places where you would not greatly want them to collect. Sweep them off pathways and add them to your compost heap or store them in hessian sacks. Moisten the contents now
and again and the leaves will slowly breakdown forming leaf mould, a super-rich feed for your plants. Leaves on lawns are easy to deal with on a dry day; get the lawn mower out – the cutting action will shred the leaves and they will then rot down rapidly, feeding the lawn at the same time – it’s as easy as that and very green! Clean
leaves off tiny succulents and away from plants like phormiums and cordylines where their dampness could rot the plants. One last leaf no-no; do not compost or store leaves that are infected in any way. Fungal infections such as mildew, black spot and rust can all be spread in this way. Pine needles and conifer trimmings should be stored separately. They take much longer to rot down but can, later, be used around acid- loving plantings such as azaleas, rhododendron, camellias and blueberries.
Mulching: this is a great month to mulch, whilst soil is still warm and moist from rain and dewy mornings. Use some of those leaves and water them to stop them blowing around until the rotting process starts. We have a pile of good mulching material at the garden centre, free to you if you come and sack it.
Fertilising: This is the month to give your lawn its last feed of the year. It is also a very important time to feed fruit trees, including citrus, roses and shrubs; they´ll grow stronger and give you more flowers and fruits come springtime. If you’ve barbecue or bonfire ashes, spread this potash-rich mix under fruit trees. Or come and see us for sacks of organic, super-concentrated worm manure which is a slow-release feed giving
your plants energy through the winter. Spring and autumn fertilising is one of the most
important jobs you can do in your garden.
Boundaries and Supports: Check that fences, pergolas, trellis and tree posts are firm before the strong winds of winter start rocking and rolling. Likewise, ensure that new tree plantings are firmly staked. A long stake is not necessary; it’s the trunk that needs to be firm, leaves higher up can sway and this, in itself, strengthens branches. But if the trunk and root ball are rocking, the roots cannot properly establish.
Rain: That wet stuff that we all long for and then complain about when it comes! Make the most of it because it’s a total unknown whether we’ll be in deluge or drought. Save as much rainwater as you can, clean out gutters and downpipes, surface water drainage channels etc. so that not one drop is wasted or allowed to cause damage! At the same time, during wet spells, stand pots on feet to prevent water-logging (most
plants hate sitting in water) or, if they are on plates, empty them after heavy downpours otherwise the roots could rot.
Watering: Irrigation times on mature plantings can be scaled down but new plantings need to be carefully looked after. Think in terms of a couple of buckets of water on new larger plantings twice weekly during dry spells, cut to once a week as they establish. Established plantings may not need any additional irrigation as we head further into winter.
Cypress/Pine Needles: Like all plants, it is quite normal to get some leaf/needle drop, especially during autumn. If the needles are yellowing from the inside, this is a normal aging process and you don’t need to worry about it. Yellowing and drying from the outside probably indicates lack of water and a stress situation.
Fruit Trees: As peaches, nectarines, almonds and apricots start to lose their leaves, give them a spray with copper fungicide (and again at leaf break in springtime) to help control peach leaf curl.
Perennials: Clumps of perennials can be lifted, split and replanted to increase stocks. Keep new and youthful segments after division; discard the old and tired mother plant.
Replant in ground that has been improved with organic matter and a slow-release fertiliser. Things like iris, agapanthus, crocosmia, hemerocalis and tulbaghia all benefit from this. Trim back the foliage by about one third and don´t forget to water in well after splitting and make sure they don´t go short until re-established. Many of our daisy and bell type flowers brighten up late summer gardens with a repeat flowering –
these should be split later, when flowering has finished. We’re talking here of things like rudbeckia, gazania, coreopsis, arctotis, gaillardia, penstemon and digitalis.
Mark the position of herbaceous perennials – a simple bamboo cane will serve. Once their top-growth dies back, you might struggle to remember where they are and disturb them trying to plant something in the same spot.
Grasses: Are some of the best things to plant for spectacular autumns. When the sun is slung low in the sky it backlights every little filigree of grasses making a magical world.
Try the elegant miscanthus Flamingo, the fiery fountain grasses, pennisetum Fireworks or Summer Samba, the candyfloss-like muhly grass, steely blue Lyme grass and golden ripples of stipa tenuissima. We are, at last, waking up to their elegant beauty.
Autumn Colour: Leaves and berries in a kaleidoscope of pumpkin colours are what we tend to think of for autumn colour, but there are also lots of autumn flowering plants that will take us well into winter. Here are a few to give you some ideas: asclepsia, aster, coreopsis, helianthus, perovskia, rudbeckia, salvias, sedum Herbstfreude and zauschneria californica (Californian fuchsia)
Pots and Containers: Now is the time to replace summer bedding in pots with plants that will appreciate the cooler weather. We’re loving alternanthera Purple Knight, it’s a great mixer with pansies, small-flowering violas and cyclamen. Or try the cool silvery looks of dichondra Silver Falls – it looks like it sounds and is so good in our sunny climate. We’ve also a great array of succulents in stunning colours and forms for really
easy-care and long-lasting pots.
Bulbs: It’s the month to plant bulbs for surprises next springtime! Our stocks will be arriving soon – we’ll advise you. In general, plant, at least, twice as deep as the bulb.
Vegetables: Autumn is an excellent time to start the leafy and root vegetables. Forget the fruit-forming crops like tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, courgettes – these are summer-lovers. But you can plant all the cabbage family - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, lettuce, chicory. All types of peas and beans. Artichokes. Root crops, carrots, parsnips, radish, beetroot, potatoes. And garlic and onions.
Save our World:
Photo: Leiren Patterson
Don´t you just love these images of giraffes! They have been found atop a 15m sandstone outcrop in the Sahara desert of north-eastern Niger and are estimated to be nine thousand years old. It is reckoned to be one of the best pieces of African rock art found to date and one of the giraffes, measuring about 6m high, is considered to be the largest single prehistoric work of art in the world. It is believed that there are some
half million sites of African rock art; many are extremely remote but unprotected from vandalism, graffiti and careless tourism.
At the time of the engraving, the Sahara was a far more hospitable place, not the parched landscape it is today. Back then it was covered with trees and grassland fed by rivers and lakes.
Something New: At last – comfrey! We’ve been trying for years to get comfrey plants so we are delighted to say that we now have a few plants but supplies are limited at the moment. This is the much-sought-after Russian comfrey Bocking 14 which is the most nutrient-rich strain. Comfrey has very deep roots – up to 2m long – that take up nutrients deep in the soil. These are drawn up into the leaf mass. When these are cut
and laid directly on the soil next to garden plants, they break down releasing all that nutrient rich food to plants with much shallower root systems. Comfrey leaves can also be chopped up and steeped in water for several weeks until a thick dark liquid is produced which can be diluted down and watered into your garden plants.
Tip of the Month: Take a look at the Shed of the Year 2020.
Built around two massive tree trunks – somewhere to dream and ponder. Escaoe the
craziness of these covid times, this would make an ideal hideaway. A shed to inspire!
Job of the month:
A lovely autumnal-coloured potful using just three plants. Each are different but complimentary. The statuesque bronze-leaved canna lily with apricot flowers is picked up by the peachy-leaved coleus (you could equally use heuchera which would be perennial) and pretty gold-flowering calibrachoas. The warm tones of the terracotta
pot set off the arrangement beautifully.
Plant of the Month: Calothamnus quadrifidus, the one-sided bottle brush occurs naturally in western Australia and is an excellent shrub for our gardens. The bright red stamen flowers are produced over a very long period and are great bird attractors. Try it as a screening plant/windbreak and it makes a very lovely informal hedge with its soft grey-green foliage. It stands up well to wind even tolerating a battering in coastal positions. An unfussy plant which will cope well with summer drought. To about 2m tall and wide.