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November Jottings

October’s mild temperatures and rain have meant that our gardens continue to thrive. I’m still cutting dahlias, unheard of this late in the year and, judging by the lovely floral arrangements exhibited for the mini–Autumn Show, I’m not the only enjoying the bounty.

However, this month I said goodbye to a much loved and admired Malus baccata in my garden after it finally succumbed to the dreaded but omnipresent honey fungus. The tree was probably 40-45 years old and had flowered its socks off, year after year. The photo above was taken a few years back when it was flowering in all its glory. Needless to say, I now have a huge gap on the front lawn and have been investigating those species least affected by honey fungus, given its strong presence in my garden (I lost a walnut earlier in the year to the same). RHS is, as ever, a bountiful source of information on this topic, so I do highly recommend them as a worthwhile source for all things horticultural.

As we look at the shorter days and cooler temperatures, I have been busy taking cuttings of my favourite perennials including pelargoniums, salvias, penstemons, etc. Also now is a great time to plant bulbs for an early spring display. For me that has meant more camassias, tulips, alliums and anemones to help create bigger displays in certain areas. I have a new favourite allium, having seen a fantastic display of them in the gardens at the American Museum in Bath over the summer. Before I give up the details, I’ll let you know how they fare in our clay soil.

The Society’s AGM in October proved a very successful event with over 30 entries in the mini-Autumn show. Thank you to our exhibitors for their beautiful displays. We had some outstanding photographs and lots of delicious homemade liqueur for our judge to taste. Thanks go to Pat Freemantle and Sharon Westhead for judging our entries. The committee was pleased to have such strong attendance and note that our Society continues to flourish and expand.

At the AGM, we agreed to purchase a Liquidambar for Dunsfold and a copper beech for Hascombe as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative during the Jubilee. These trees will be planted in early December and we look forward to seeing them grow for future generations to enjoy.

Our speaker, Dr Peter Herring, gave an entertaining and informative talk about Dr Wilfrid Fox and his vision to create more autumn colour at Winkworth Arboretum. I think you would all agree that his creation has brought joy to many generations. Dr Fox was a remarkable man, serving as an ambulance driver and medic in both world wars (WWII at the age of 65). The rich display of photos over time demonstrated how little has changed in certain parts of the arboretum and how Fox would easily recognise these views. The other takeaway from his talk was that Spring affords another time to enjoy the beauty of the arboretum as the trees come into leaf with a myriad of colours before they become a more uniform green in the summer. And one is spoilt for choice in terms of trees in flower throughout the year. So book your tickets and head up the road to the Arboretum.

Photo credit: Winkworth Arboretum, National Trust/Carol Sheppard

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