With the extended autumn and above average warmth, it has been a little time coming, but we are now putting the Genus garden to bed. The herbaceous borders are being pruned back, weeded, and some plants lifted and stored away ready for next year. The garden here is on an exposed rise that tends to get the worst of the winter wind and any frost that might be about. For us it is indeed the time of year to dig up our dahlias and store the tubers away from the risk of winter frost and cold Dahlias have become one of the colourful late summer stars in the Genus garden. Such a lot of bright blousy colour studding the borders - part of our autumn colour treat! One of our most favourites is Rip City, a strong and easy grower with great black-crimson flowers. We are in the process of cutting down the plants and lifting the tubers which we then leave to sit in a cold greenhouse to dry off naturally, before we brush off the soil, trim and leave to sit in trays ready for planting next year. For many gardeners there has been a rediscovery and return to planting traditional plants such as the dahlia in the last few years. We have written before about garden fashion and gardening trends, and enjoying the beauty of dahlias is one we certainly endorse. Such a varied flower, the National Dahlia Collection based in Cornwall has over 1600 different species and cultivars including open daisy-like flowers through to the most ornate of pompoms. There is a dahlia for every soil and position it seems. Some varieties such as Dahlia coccinea are great for bees too. Considering all the pleasure they bring us, we don’t mind a little work lifting, trimming and storing these garden jewels.
We spoke last year when I ordered my first pair of trousers which have been a revelation. My one concern was whether they would be thornproof... I'm here to tell you that 12 months on they are still going strong, and have not torn yet. Not science-based evidence by any means, but they take a proper beating. I wash and wear them every day during the season, and they have been just great. I'll be investing in a second pair soon.
We have written a number of blogs about how great gardening is for improving gardener’s general levels of health and fitness. Our health and wellbeing though, is not just a physical thing. There are many aspects of our health which relate to less tangible sides of our person. We are body, mind and spirit and none of these areas functions entirely alone; each can affect the other. In the kind of autumn we are experiencing this year, when the conditions have been just right to produce some simply amazing autumn colour, it’s easy to make a connection between garden beauty and that uplifting feeling we get appreciating the sight. Colour therapists would have us believe that each colour, being a specific light wavelength, has a specific energy that can affect the body’s inner vibrations in particular ways. There is certainly some evidence that colour can affect our mood. US scientist Robert Gerard conducted a study that demonstrated how the colour red might stimulate anxiety, and colour psychology is used by business to market products and attract customers. The deep purples and indigos are said to be related to the immune system, the reds our skeletal and muscular system, yellow the digestion and, green the blood and circulation. Whatever the benefits of particular colours might be, there can be no mistake that the autumn show is a great attraction (look at the numbers of visitors to arboretums and woodlands such as Westonbirt and Batsford), and autumn colour in the garden and beyond is good for the spirit.