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November 2010

Greetings to all our wonderful gardening friends. It’s now the month of November,14 November to be exact. This is undoubtedly my least favourite month of the year, mainly because of the unending dark, grey, depressing days.

Having just lit a candle in the house, I’m about to take an evening stroll in the garden. I usually make these chronicles late at night. I don't know the reason why, but maybe it's because, at this time of year, there isn't that much to do when darkness and drizzle envelope everything.

I know that not every country experiences the different seasons as we do, and perhaps some of you who read these lines might be amazed by the extremities of the seasons here in Sweden. For those of you in, for example, Australia or Argentina it might be difficult to understand that during these months we seldom see the sun here in the middle of Sweden (and as for northern Sweden – forget it!). Today, for example, sunrise was at 07:39, and it was already pitch black again by 15:25. In between those two times, the sun never made an appearance in the skies; all there was, quite simply, was a depressing greyness, an overcast sky and drizzle. So for me, November is THE month of gloom.

Shortage of time is a constant problem when one has a garden, and I always feel that I’m lagging behind. But having a garden means that you’ve got to look after it, love it, take care of it, and maintain it. There's a lot that needs to go down in the ground. I've been planting tulip bulbs up until the last minute; winter will soon be upon us, so there’s no time to spare.

At this time of year I usually buy masses of crocuses and tulips at knock-down sales prices at garden centres. It's possible to keep on planting tulip bulbs as long as there’s no frost on the ground. This season I’ve planted approximately 4,000, and I often use them as one year plant. The botanical crocuses, e.g. tulipa tarda, on the other hand, come back year after year, and spread. Another task over the past few days has been to remove the boxwood globes from their pots for planting in the ground over the winter. That’s now finished.

We’ve also been busy driving around country roads in search of recently been felled pine and spruce trees, to collect small branches to arrange in window boxes. Whereas many other people take down their window boxes at this time of year, I put them on and arrange them decoratively with pine and spruce, especially branches with cones. Some other things to do at the moment: there's food to put out for the birds, pine branches to hang over the rose arches, and lights to arrange in the trees and bushes and on the balcony.

A garden brings with it so much expectation, tempered with surprise and sometimes disappointment. Everything has a beginning and an end. That’s how it is with plants, and also with life in general. The important question is what takes place, what you do, in between.

Maybe not everyone would agree with me, but I believe that tending a garden, or having access to the countryside, instils a particular approach to life. So if you don't have your own garden, make sure that you have a balcony or at least manage to get to spend time in the outdoors. Take walks in the forest or in the park and experience the cavalcade of life; for nature is in fact a cavalcade. Think back to the verdant, flourishing garden only a few months ago, and compare it with the present. But shortly – though time might seem to go slowly – a new garden life cycle will begin.

One thing which is rather special with our little plot here on earth is that there's always something in bloom throughout the season, from beginning to end. Just now in mid-November, the saffron crocuses (Crocus savitus) in the garden to the rear of the house (not to be confused with the autumn crocuses, Colchicum autumnal¬, which grow in the fruit garden at the front but are past blooming now) are looking beautiful. The grasses also continue to make a stately statement at this time of year, but otherwise much else has died down. The artichokes which we’ve grown in a large pot – an experiment – will be picked next week, if there isn't too much frost.

Those of you who read these chronicles and would like to visit our garden in the spring are most welcome to do so. The first viewing will probably be in early April. We haven't yet decided on the date, but we’ll publish it here on the website. We truly enjoy showing our garden, and I'm also grateful to all of you who read these visit the site, buy our greetings cards, and physically visit us in the garden. It’s so inspiring and moving to receive so many kind comments from you wonderful people out there.

If, like us, you’re enduring cold and darkness this time of year, don't give up: rake, tidy up, put things away, and go out and buy as many bulbs as you can while they're on sale. A big hug to you all from

A Gentleman Gardener, Stefan.

p.s. The next issue of the Allers Trädgård magazine (no. 1, 2011) includes an article about the garden entitled "White Spring", illustrated with photographs taken by our dear friend and A Gentleman’s Garden’s wonderful photographer, Solveig Edlund.