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Last Month in My Garden: November 2012

‘Jottings from Bolam’ November 2012

All that amazing autumn colour is now ankle deep in my garden. Not so attractive when wet and soggy, so I am pleased that John has a powerful sucker and blower to clear the drifts of leaves.

Once the large leaf mould enclosures are full, I like some on the compost heaps, although the books advise against it, as I think it helps to keep it ‘open’, and it works for us. When there is nowhere else to put them, I’m afraid they are burnt – we get so many.

With new raised beds to fill, we have used all our available compost as well as composted bark at the base with cow muck and anything else we could lay our hands on.

We have used the excellent, locally composted green waste for years, and wanting to order a big load, were devastated to find that, owing to new regulations preventing them from turning the compost, that they had none and could do it no more. The alternative is to leave it in heaps with air pipes running underneath, until it has composted. But results, evidently, are poor. What will happen to all the council collections of green waste now I wonder?

What is really standing out in the garden at the moment are the grasses, their pale spent flowers holding the sunlight and providing structure. The tall Molinea caerulea ‘Transparent’ and ‘Skyracer’ often struggle on our free draining sandy loam, but this years moisture has obviously suited them and they have been magnificent. Their yellow autumn foliage colour is now turning a rich gold, indicating their imminent collapse. The stems kindly detach at the base, allowing me to just gather them up, no cutting necessary.

Somewhat faded now, at the start of this month Teucrium hircanicum was looking very colourful, particularly good with Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ whose leaf colour works well with the magenta/purple flower spikes of the Teucrium. It is very easy to grow and seeds well enough to provide fresh plants every year, although the plant is perennial and vigorous. It attracts butterflies and is good for cutting - what more could you want. Flowering in mid/late summer I find it very useful and attractive, but I have to make sure that it is not swamping smaller and more delicate plants. I don’t mind pulling it up if necessary, as I know that there will always be plenty more should I need them.

I am fortunate to have a well-drained garden at 500ft above sea level, but my thoughts and sympathies are with any of you who have been severely punished by the recent deluges.

Heather Russell

Text and photographs by Heather Russell of the HPS North East Group.
You can visit her own website at


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