Chronicle September 2013 | Chronicle December 2013


October 2013

Greetings to all of you who read these chronicles, wherever you are out there in the big, wide world. The date is 24 October and autumn is now upon us. As much as I welcome the tranquillity that accompanies autumn, I nevertheless dread what follows next, for I'm no winter person.

As if it weren't enough with so much to do in the garden in the spring and summer, the autumn brings with it masses of bulbs that need planting. This is, of course, a problem entirely of my own making – and something I absolutely would not do without. When I counted up the thousands of bulbs destined to go down in the soil during September and October, I thought it would be a case of mission impossible. I'm not getting any younger – and recently reached the ripe old age of 52.

We usually go to Italy over my birthday, and this year our destinations were Vicenza, Verona and Mantua. What beautiful cities! Whilst there, I began to understand the source of so much of my inspiration. Firstly, I get lots of ideas from people I'm lucky enough to meet and, secondly, I am crazy about gardens. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to visit so many Italian and English gardens. They're so different from each other, and yet equally beautiful. When I gaze out over my own little plot here to the south of Stockholm, I can see how influenced I’ve been by gardens I’ve visited.

The gardens we saw whilst in Verona included the tranquil renaissance beauty Giardino Giusti, dating back to 1580, with its geometric box hedges and fountains. Another entirely different experience was provided by a trip to the private André Heller botanical garden in Gardone Riviera by Lake Garda. This impressive garden is by no means large but well worth a visit. It’s embellished with humoristic artwork and displays influences from the Far East, and is justifiably known for its bamboo and azaleas. We had also planned to visit Parco Giardino Sigurta just to the south of Verona, but pouring rain made us change our minds. A great pity, since from their website, and from what I've read, it appears to be quite wonderful.

As I go round the garden here in Tumba, my thoughts turn to plants that people share with each other, give to each other. There is nothing more beautiful than receiving a plant from someone, and many years later being able to make the link between that very plant and that very person. I believe that all of us should make that sort of gesture sometime, for hopefully it is something that will have a lasting impact.

I've just entered the conservatory and closed the door. The sun is shining but the wind is blowing up a gale, so there's nothing I can do outside just now. Otherwise, my hands full with planting the last of the bulbs. As crazy as it might seem, my fingers are beginning to itch at the thought that bulbs might now already be on sale out at the garden centres. Although we buy the vast majority of our bulbs directly from Holland through our Bulb Club, the range we order is quite selective, and it doesn't do any harm to add a little extra from outside…

In the past few days I've been harvesting some saffron from the saffron crocuses that grow in a small spot in the back garden. We bought the plants some 12, maybe 13, years ago when we visited Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire, and they’ve come back every autumn since then. To my mind, this year is probably the best ever for saffron crocuses in our garden.

I've been dotting around the garden. It's now high time to put small mounds of soil by the base of the roses, something that has to be done in Sweden to protect the roots from the winter cold. We've planted quite a few new roses this year, including 4 Yellow Fairy roses, one in each section of the parterre in the front garden, as well as 3 brownish-red Hot Chocolate roses alternating with 3 white Karen Blixen roses around a pampas grass to the rear of the house. Autumn does, of course, involve the raking of leaves – and we've no shortage of them! The beautiful autumn colours are now a thing of the past, or to be precise are now on the ground instead of on the trees.

In the middle of December, our Bulb Club will be sending out a new list of bulbs for spring planting, and thus our members will have a few pleasant things to think about over the Christmas/New Year holidays. The Club’s composite order will be sent to Holland in the middle of January. Details will be provided together with the bulb list. Delivery is scheduled for the middle of March.

The garden is slowly but surely entering a rest period, and we together with it. I wish you a wonderful autumn. Take care.

Stefan, a Gentleman Gardener