A Kinrowan Estate story: Autumn Gardening

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Oh, hello. It’s you again. How is it that every time we meet up, I’m clomping around in muddy boots? Come out to get some fresh air, have you? Give me your name again? I’m Gus, if you remember, the gardener around these parts. Here, I need to head out to the kitchen gardens, come walk with me a bit. They’re behind that wall over there.

Well, it’s a busy time in the garden, going into Autumn, which is why you haven’t seen me around. I don’t believe in this blowsy end-of-summer sort of thing that’s so popular in borders these days. What’s wrong with a little order? There’s the deadheading to keep up with, taking a look at the bulbs that have been ripening on the racks behind the greenhouse, and of course there’s any number of bulbs and perennials that do well with an Autumn planting or that need dividing. And we’ve got quite a collection of magnificent old nerines ready for their autumnal showing in the walled garden, and of course we’re still bringing in the harvests in the various parts of the estate as they come due.

And soon it’s time to collect some seed — see that blue larkspur there? I need to save some of that . . . some of my favorite flowers, those.

I’ve been keeping my boys on their toes, too. Keeping up with the squash alone is a full time job for one person. I suppose I really shouldn’t call them ‘boys’ any more; some of them aren’t actually young enough to be called boys, and some aren’t actually male, either. They’re a good lot, though.

Oh, stop on a minute, this is called the Oak King’s Walk . . . see along here, the brick wall opposite the oaks? We’re taking out half the lawn there and putting in a long border, next week. Dig, settle, plant. I’ve been planning it all summer, just the sort of thing I like to do, really. A mixed border, heavy on the structure, because this is a major walkway in the winter these days, oh yes. It’ll mainly be the usual kind of thing, but with a few variations.

Trelliswork there, there, and there, with some climbers, and then there’ll be old apothecary roses by request of Mrs. Ware, who wants more strewing roses for her still rooms. Lavender and iris for the same reason. Tall phlox along the back, heather along the front for winter color, and then some of these new Echinaceas look good — interesting colors. Alliums throughout, of course. Clematis for some tuteurs that Gabriella, our carpenter, is knocking together, out of the same cedar for the trelliswork.

Also . . . don’t tell anyone! But I’ve got a full complement of tree peonies ready to go in! It’ll take them a while to get settled in, but it’ll be quite the spring show once they start flowering. Ten-inch flowers, some of them, and beautiful tissue petals.

When? Oh, probably about three years from now. Maybe four or five. Gardeners have to be a patient lot. But . . . give it the right amount of amendments to prepare the soil, and then give it all the time to get established, and Bob’s your uncle.

But I’ll tell you the part that I like . . . the evergreens! Chamaecyparis pisifera comes in these lovely varieties, with forms from weeping to upright, and colors from gold to blue. I’ve also got some beautiful Thuja ready to put in as well.

Have to have some patience there, too. Thank goodness for annuals, really.

All right, well, you’ll probably be wanting to get back to the main hall, and I can see that I’d better get in to the kitchen garden now; whatever is that lad doing to that pumpkin vine, there? Mr. Eldridge wants most of that patch for Brewmaster Bjorn for spiced pumpkin ale this Autumn, he said so just today at breakfast, and the rest is slated to Cook for pies and soups, so we won’t have very many for the Yanks’ pumpkin lanterns this year. Perhaps I’ll save the prize ones for that, to make up for the scanty numbers.

Talk to you soon, then. Hey, you, boy! What’re you doing there?!

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Gus the Estate Head Gardener

I'm the person responsible for both the grounds and the livestock which are raised here. I live with Bree (my wife) in one of the cottages that has been here for centuries. I actually enjoy Winters here as my work load is considerably reduced as I let the younger staff members handle the needed work which leaves me time for reading, ice skating and skiing, not to mention just being with my wife. Bliss!

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