Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to share a vase of flowers picked from my garden every Monday.
For the last week I have been concentrating on bringing in the harvest that is ready in my garden, before the wet and windy weather rots it all. These late crops are looking so beautiful that I decided not to use a vase or a container at all this week – instead I made a little still life on my favourite silver tray to showcase the best of this harvest.
My mini pumpkins are a favourite crop at this time of year. This is Munchkin, a prolific producer which is also very ornamental in the garden. Started from seed in early May, I planted out 3 plants in mid June and have harvested upwards of 20 lovely little pumpkins from each plant. I have brought all the little pumpkins inside now, washed them well and left them to dry before storing them in a cool dry cupboard in the pantry that I use to keep carrots, potatoes etc that would otherwise rot in my Aga warmed kitchen.
These lovely mini pumpkins are delicious roasted or made into soup and are not as overwhelming to use in the kitchen as the larger pumpkins can be. I will keep some to use as decorations in bowls, on window ledges and piled on top of outdoor containers throughout October (in a nod to Halloween) and what are still left at Christmas will be sprayed silver, gold or white to add to my festive arrangements. All round a very useful crop!!
This cob of sweetcorn marks the end of the crop for this year, but it has been a very good year with plenty of sweet and tender cobs. I started my sweetcorn off inside with the pumpkins and courgettes in early May. The young plants were planted out in a grid formation in mid June in the middle of a large bed and then underplanted with butternut squash and pumpkins. I also like to add a few beanpole wigwams of climbing beans to this mix. Sweetcorn needs to be kept well watered and is ready to pick when the threads at the end have turned brown – do not leave it too long once it is ready – it quickly turns woody if left on the plant.
Next on my tray are these beautiful pears. They are from a very old pear tree that was in the garden when we arrived 5 years ago. The tree had been drastically cut back and did not produce any fruit for the first few years. It seems much happier now and we have had pears for the last two seasons. I am also very pleased to have harvested the first pears from the young trees I planted 3 years ago, which I am training as espaliers. Whilst the pears on my old tree need a ladder to harvest, the espaliers are a perfect height for picking.
Finally on my tray this week I have added some beautiful autumn leaves and sweet chestnuts. The chestnuts are not from my garden – they were gathered on a visit to a dear friend – she has a lovely tree growing just outside her front gate.
I do have a very large horse chestnut tree in my garden, which has always produced a lovely crop of conkers. Sadly the tree has been deteriorating for many years now and a recent visit from the tree surgeon has resulted in it being declared unsafe.
I am very sad about this on a number of levels – I hate to lose any tree and particularly one as old and gnarled as this one.. Also this tree seems to be a focus for wildlife, in particular a family of geese that return every autumn and can be seen and heard using its high branches as a perch throughout winter and early spring. And then there are the conkers – I will have to find another source as I do love to fill the bases of my hurricane lamps with conkers in the autumn (now that my son is too grown up to want to play ‘conkers’ with them!).
There are still plenty of flowers around for cutting and my outdoor chrysanthemums are just starting to do their thing. This week I moved the young chrysanthemum cuttings ordered in spring from Chrysanthemums Direct into the greenhouse beds – there are lots of buds, but I am hoping the flowers will not really get going until November.
I plan to have my first Paperwhites in flower in the greenhouse during December, so I will need to add some bulbs to the greenhouse beds in the next week or two (paperwhites are about 6 weeks from planting to flowering). The other big job that was finished this week was to plant up pots of prepared hyacinths. These are now sitting in the dark of the potting shed, where they will remain until mid December when I will start to move them onto the greenhouse staging. I like to have my hyacinths flowering in January and February – there is so much else going on at Christmas and I value their scent and beauty so much more in the quiet weeks before the outdoor bulbs start to flower.
Also in the greenhouse I have 2 young camellias budding up nicely and 2 Christmas Roses (helleborus niger) in pots, which I hope will flower well in the sheltered environment – forward planning for this years bleak months!
I hope you have enjoyed my look at the autumn harvest this week and that you will find time to pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made. As ever thank you to Cathy for organising this lovely Monday project and if you would like to join in please do upload a few photos of your creation and add your link to Cathy’s post so that we can all enjoy what you have made.