Amazing autumn: From pumpkin farms to fallen leaves

PUBLISHED: 08:06 15 November 2017

A  colourful carpet of leaves at Ashridge

A colourful carpet of leaves at Ashridge

DonaldMorgan

From pumpkin farms to fallen leaves, our columnist has been enjoying all that autumn has to offer...

A row of beech trees in AshridgeA row of beech trees in Ashridge

I was driving to visit my parents this morning, and decided to take a different route - the colour of the autumn leaves at the entrance to Ashridge was just too enticing to miss.

With some of the wet weather that we’ve been having recently, it’s not been so easy to get out and enjoy the colours like I would normally do, but this morning, with the sun streaming through the canopy - the leaves were absolutely breathtaking, and I was so pleased that I’d decided to take the diversion.

There's lots to be done outdoors this monthThere's lots to be done outdoors this month

We are very lucky where we live to have so many beautiful woodlands nearby - particularly the National Trust estate at Ashridge where the woodlands are accessible to all. The colours are a mixture of golds, oranges, and yellows, and every hue in between.

You don’t have to go far to be able to enjoy the wonderful colour palette of autumn though, and most parks and gardens are putting on their own excellent display of dramatic colour. In our own garden the conker tree has just about finished dropping it’s fruit all over our lawn, and I have lost count of the number of times we’ve had to clear the leaves.

Buying pumpkins direct from the patch is becoming increasingly popularBuying pumpkins direct from the patch is becoming increasingly popular

The autumn can feel like a quieter time in the garden - everything feels as though it’s settling down for the winter, and yet there are still plenty of jobs to do. By this stage the spring bulbs should be in, but there is constant tidying to be done.

I like to think that at this time of year you can do as little or as much as you want - I could easily be out in the garden every day clearing away fallen leaves, and weeding the borders. Similarly it’s possible to just let the garden calm down - if you leave these jobs now, they will just need doing when the spring comes, but it’s similarly not the end of the world if you wait until then.

The darker mornings and dark evenings make it feel as though there isn’t a lot of time to be spent outdoors. When my husband goes to work in the morning it is pitch black, and the few hours spent before my baby is up and about are too dark to get jobs done in the garden, so it makes it hard to find the time!

The wonderful thing about gardens, is that often they are very forgiving - and if you have some times when you can’t spend as much time working on them, they will generally take care of themselves for a bit - it might just take double the work when you next get out there!

Focus on pumpkins

It will have been hard not to see pumpkins everywhere over the past few weeks - with Halloween, and the increasing popularity in carving pumpkins for the front of the house. One thing that seems to have become very popular too, is visiting pumpkin farms. It’s really heartening to see that this seems to be overtaking purchasing from the big supermarkets, because as well as increasing sales for the pumpkin farmers and local farming industry, it is great for the younger generation to see where the pumpkins come from, rather than just thinking they come from the supermarket.

People seem to also be making the most of the pumpkins, with using the flesh for cooking. This is something which some people will have always done, but with the fashion for home cookery programmes, and with social media offering ideas and recipes readily, it seems to be much more common that people make the most of the whole pumpkin rather than just using it for decoration.

Things to do in the garden this month

- Weeding (if you can face the cold fingers whilst you do it)

- You can pick the remaining apples if you are lucky enough to have fruit trees in your garden and haven’t already had them all

- Pruning shrubs and trees to get them tidy after the summer has ended

- Putting mulch down on the borders to allow the nutrients to enrich the soil over winter. You can use mature compost if you have compost bins in your garden. Compost should be turned regularly anyhow, but if you don’t always get around to it, then now is a good time to do this.

- A general housekeeping of the outside of your home - if you have trees in your garden you might want to clear gutters of leaves and drainage areas, to prevent any leaks or flooding over the winter

- This month should hopefully see the last grass cut of the season

- If you have any tender or expensive plants that you don’t want to lose to the frosts, you can protect with fleece, or take inside/into a greenhouse for over the winter

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