Chronicle September 2011 | Chronicle november 2011

October 2011

We've now reached the end of October; I'm a bit late with this chronicle, but there's a reason for that, which you'll be able to read about in the next chronicle. It's autumn now, but in Sweden we haven't experienced such a warm autumn for many a long year. I can't remember anything like it. Average temperatures are much above normal and I'm continuing to potter around the garden. It's quite an unusual feeling; it’s not as if one is exactly used to sweating when working in the garden at the end of October, here in the usually cold (if not frozen) north. Another sign of how uncommonly warm it is for the time of year is that the fish in the pond are continuing to eat, even though it's the end of October.

We’ve now closed the garden for the season, and what a wonderful season it’s been. If you wish to visit us in the near future, you’re welcome to do so, but please let us know in advance, since at the moment I'm extremely busy planting bulbs. I'm now down to planting the last 3,000 and I'm still waiting for the sales in at the garden centres to get seriously underway… I can't pass up a 70% discount, so I'll take the opportunity to buy, buy, buy – there's always space for more.
What a fantastic month October has been! I've been picking mushrooms like nobody's business. I can’t remember a mushroom season as good as this. So far, I must have picked 30 kg of trumpet chanterelle. For me, the season begins with porcini mushrooms and ends with trumpet chanterelle, with a little of everything else in between.

Today I was thinking about the grasses in the garden. If, for example, you have elephant grass (Miscanthus), this time of year it’s a good idea to drive a stake or bamboo pole through the centre, and then bind up the grass, approximately halfway up. That way, it will retain its character throughout the coming winter. Even though we've only reached the end of October, it’s worthwhile to think a bit ahead with such things (which we try to do).

Out in the forest, in addition to mushroom picking I've also been busy collecting pinecones, branches and moss. It’s possible to use them to create such a wonderful atmosphere, both inside and outside the house, during the winter time when the garden is asleep. So if you haven't done so already, go out to the forest and start collecting!

Gardening tasks at the moment include mowing the lawns for the last time this year. I can keep going long into November, provided there’s no snow. I've also been busy putting potted plants away, and the palms have been moved to the outhouse. Someone told me that many palms can, in fact, survive temperatures of down to minus 15 degrees centigrade, so I could probably have waited a bit. Still, what’s done is done. I know that it’s still a little early to take in the olive tree, since it’s best with a few nights of frost to become hardy, before being brought indoors. I'll also wait until sometime into November before taking my box globes out of their pots and digging them down in the ground; I’ve quite a few, so it takes a good deal of work. And as far raking leaves is concerned, I believe in waiting until they've all more or less fallen, and at the moment most simply have not yet done so.

At the moment we’re enjoying a tapestry of wonderful colours here in the garden – it's glowing in hues of red, gold and orange. The autumn colours have been (and thankfully still are) fantastic. Maple trees have quite simply spectacular autumn colours, and are something every garden in Sweden should have. I have a particular fondness for the paperbark maple (Acer griseum), with its incredibly beautiful red-brown leaves and flaking bark. The English name is so wonderfully descriptive.

All around, the ground is covered with small, crisp leaves; it feels almost like a sin to step on them. Everything is so beautiful, a final sigh before the severity of winter sets in. Quite seriously, it brings tears to my eyes; my beloved garden and thoughts of all the joy it has brought, and the promise of things yet to come.

Have a wonderful autumn, dear gardening friends

Stefan, A Gentleman Gardener