This is my favourite time of year – I love the late warm sunny days that feel such a pleasurable gift, I love the quality of the light especially as the mist lifts in the morning and I can’t help loving the more relaxed feeling there is in the garden as the leaves colour and fall and the herbaceous perennial put on their last show of flowers, strung with dew-ladened cobwebs.
Asters and apples featured highly at last week’s RHS Autumn Harvest Show in London 5-6 October. Billed as 'a floral and foodie feast', the show featured nursery stands, a selection of food producers and the ‘best in show’ displays of fruit, veg, flowers and foliage from enthusiastic gardeners.
Here are some highlights.
Display from Wisley’s apple collection celebrating the 150 anniversary of Robert Hogg’s The Fruit Manual – an encyclopaedic guide to fruit cultivars grown in Britain in the 19th century, which by its fifth and last edition listed 718 apples, not to mention pears, plums, cherries and more. The display enforced just what we stand to lose if we resign ourselves to the limited and standardise selection of apples offered by our supermarkets. Thank goodness there is a resurgence of interest in orchards.
Don't forget Apple Day held this year on 21st October.
Apples were also a feature of the Pennard Plants stand where the sight of pieces of toast tied to a young apple tree made for an intriguing display. Apparently this is an old wassail tradition in which toast was soaked in cider and hung in the apple trees for robins to feast on as the guardian spirit of the trees. No wonder robins are renowned for being jolly.
There was apple bobbing too for those who were game.
NB – also spotted on the Pennard Plants stand - a good range of green manure seeds to plant now to nourish your soil over winter.
Fruit and veg displays in general were impressive in the competition classes. These were the prize-winning, 'home-grown grapes - a bunch of ‘Muscat of Alexandria’. But what happened to the turnips? No entries at all. Has the humble root veg fallen from favour to be replaced by the likes of pak choi?
Inspiring branches of autumn foliage. I noted in particular Fothergilla monticola, Viburnum plicatum f. tormentosum ‘Mariesii’ and Stewartia pseudocamellia. (Sorry no pics)
Look out for this new dahlia in 2011. Bred by Mark Twyning from the National Dahlia Collection at Winchester Growers from his 'Twyning's After Eight' cultivar, this seedling has butter yellow petals struck with the occasional red brush stroke. Definitely set to become a talking point in the border. It's one they hope to bring forward for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2011.
The next RHS London show is the London Plant and Design Show, 15-16 February 2011.
Click here for details.