James Cross, Head Gardener and Property Manager
October in the Palace gardens is generally a colourful and bountiful time, and the apples and pears have been fantastic this year. We have taken them to be pressed at Heck’s, where we hope to sell the juice in the café. The four Quince trees (Cydonia oblonga ‘Meeches Prolific’ in the middle of the Phelps garden are covered in fruit, due to the hot, dry and sunny summer. The quince are very aromatic and not only are they prized for the making of jelly and jam, they are also excellent slow cooked with apples and cider with roast pork!
There is lots of colour to enjoy throughout October, which will hopefully give you some ideas for your own gardens. Our varied collection of roses will remain colourful throughout the month and some of the hips will become very bright (‘Scarlet Fire’). My recommended plants for guaranteed October colour are: Geranium Rozanne, Sedum sp., most Asters, Anemones and Fuchsia’s. The Dahlias will last until the first frosts, particularly, the bright red ‘Bishop of Llandaff’.
Our magnificent collection of trees will become more colourful, so watch out for the Gingko which looks like liquid gold in the late October sunshine. Even some conifers, like Cryptomeria, change to a rich, reddish brown as the temperatures drop. The colour garden will remain until November and the red Geraniums, yellow Begonias and blue Heliotrope still look great.
In the Community Garden, Jo and our volunteers have been busy collecting and drying lots of flowers to decorate the Palace for Christmas. The statice and Helichrysum dry really well and if kept out of sunlight, they retain their bright colours. We have also sown some autumn lettuce, thinned out the parsnips and collected plenty of seed to reuse next year. Jo and Colin even grew a melon plant in the greenhouse this year which produced one fruit, which we ate and was delicious! The team will spend much of October cutting the long grass in the arboretum and all of the hedges.
The garden team are always happy to answer any questions or queries and we look forward to seeing you in the gardens.