by Margaret Porter
Autumn in the English garden is a time of vibrant hues, gradual decay, tidying, and preparation for winter as well as spring. As gardener, garden historian and collector of gardening manuals, I tend to follow the advice of gardeners long past as often—perhaps more often—than current experts. As historical author, maintaining authenticity in terms of what was grown in a given period, and when it bloomed, is extremely important to me.
This is the second of four seasonal guides, with information taken from 17th and 18th century sources in my personal library. I shot the photographs either in historic gardens in England or in my own 21st century gardens, in which I grow heritage plants. The previous entry is Garden Guide for English Historical Authors: Summer.
|Vegetable & cutting garden, late September|
|Autumn cabbages and greens|
|Lavender in autumn|
Fruit & vines: Take hardwood cuttings to root new plants. Gather ripening fruit early in the month, and late in the month harvest those that keep well over winter. Guard the grapes from birds. Transplant strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and currants. Plant cuttings of gooseberries and currants. Prune and train espalier fruit trees. Harvest apples, pears, peaches, plums, muscadine grapes and other ripe grapes, figs, walnuts, filberts, medlars, currants, Morello cherries.
In the flower garden: Dig borders and manure beds for planting hardy flowers. Transplant perennial and biennial flowers from the nursery. Plant early tulips, hyacinths, and anemones. Sow auricula and polyanthus seeds in pots or boxes of light, rich soil. Cut down stalks of decayed flowers. Late in the month transplant most types of hardy flowering trees and shrubs. Divide irises, peonies, aconites, lily of the valley, columbines, perennial poppy.
Flowers in bloom: Stock gillyflowers, scabious, Marvel of Peru, China pinks, French Marigolds, Hollyhocks, chrysanthemums, lupines, sweet-scented peas, cyclamens, goldenrod, asters, spiderwort, snapdragon, candytuft, scarlet bean, sunflowers, mallow, hydrangea, nasturiums, jasmine, monthly rose, passionflower, honeysuckle, azalea, kalmia, tamarisk.
|Espalier pear tree|
In the flower garden: Finish planting bulbs and roots such as tulips, ranunculus, crocus, jonquil, hyacinth, narcissus, iris, lily. Transplant hardy tuberous or tooted plants such as hollyhock, Canterbury bells, honeysuckles, columbines, monkshood, daisy, chrysanthemum, sweet william, asters, spiderwort, peonies, wallflower, thrift, rudbeckia, monarda. Clean borders of weeds and refresh with clean earth and well-rotted dung. Prune flowering shrubs. Transplant flowering shrubs: roses, honeysuckle, Spanish broom, laburnum, spirea, peach, almond, cherry, syringa. Clean walks and lawns of fallen leaves.
Flowers in bloom: French marigold, Marvel of Peru, Indian tobacco, autumn carnation, Michaelmas daisies, goldenrod, cyclamen, auriculas, heartsease, chrysanthemum, tuberoses, Guernsey lily, linaria, bugloss, feverfew, sunflowers, Spanish jasmine, autumn crocus, broad-leaved phlox, helenia, spiderwort, late honeysuckle, passion flower, monthly rose.
|Quatre Saisons, Autumn Damask, the "Monthly Rose"|
In the kitchen and herb gardens: Remove glass and frames from lettuce and cauliflower in warm, dry weather. Sow peas and plant beans in dry weather. Sow salad herbs on hot beds, to continuously supply the table. At beginning of the month sow carrots and radishes on warm borders. Harvest carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, and salsify towards the end of the month. Also red cabbage, onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, sage, mushrooms, salad leaves and herbs.
|Apples ready for picking|
In the flower garden: Stake newly-planted trees. The boxes and pots of seedling bulbs and flower should be set in a warm, sunny location and screened from cold winds. If weather is mild, continue transplanting bulbous and fibrous-rooted plants and flowering shrubs as in October. Rake over borders and beds to prevent weeds and moss from growing.
Plants recommended for adorning rooms during autumn: aramanth, asters, balsam, French marigolds, passionflower, Marvel-of-Peru, larkspur, honeysuckle, tuberoses, African and French marigolds, convulvulus, sunflowers, hollyhocks, double violets, spiderwort, poppies, candytuft, auriculas, polyanthus, stock gillyflowers, ripe apples and other fruits.
Margaret Porter is the award-winning and bestselling author of twelve period novels, whose other publication credits include nonfiction and poetry. A Pledge of Better Times, her highly acclaimed novel of 17th century courtiers Lady Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St. Albans, is her latest release, available in trade paperback and ebook. Margaret studied British history in the UK and the US. As historian, her areas of speciality are social, theatrical, and garden history of the 17th and 18th centuries, royal courts, and portraiture. A former actress, she gave up the stage and screen to devote herself to fiction writing, travel, and her rose gardens.