By —— Bio and Archives--October 1, 2017

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“We Canadians have our Thanksgiving in October—like logical people, when the harvest is still in effect and therefore the whole “harvest festival” idea makes sense,” explained Martin Short, disagreeing with the United States celebrating the same this year on 23 November.

North or south of the border though it’s time for seasonal decorations. Cut the top off a pumpkin, hollow out, carve a face if you will, then drop in a six- or eight-inch pot of yellow or orange chrysanthemums for something different in doorstep décor to add to the wreath, dried corn and stalks, dolls and scarecrows.

Diversion No. 1

It may “look like Wembley” but the last thing anyone is allowed to do on Britain’s best lawn is play soccer. Keen gardener Stuart Grindle cuts the grass six times a week to keep it at a trim 5mm height spending 30 hours every week ensuring it is “just so.” The seventy-four-year-old retired joiner from Tickhill, Doncaster insists the 60,000 hours he’s spent over 40 years has been worth it after being crowned for Britain’s best lawn [The Daily Express]

Popular groundcover periwinkle, Vinca minor, was known as Violet of the Sorcerers in medieval France where it was once hung at entrances to ward off evil spirits and witches. This might be worth remembering in an election year. Dodder, Cuscuta, also had dastardly associations in the days when knights were bold and ladies fair. Back then, it was sometimes viewed as evil transformations of normal grape wine species. Common names reveal its reputation: Devil’s Guts, Devil’s Hair, Witch’s Hair. As late as 1831 in Europe the presence of dodder in crops was connected to the appearance of the comet in the previous year. Sounds just the thing for a horticultural Halloween.

Diversion No. 2

A scarecrow, featuring a Trump mask, stars and stripes tie, and a distinctive mop of blonde hair, sits on Michael Douglas’s Majorcan estate that has been on the market since 2015. The actor praised his ‘golf buddy’ as ‘not an idiot’ earlier this year, explained The Daily Express

Autumn arrives. Time to work up an appetite for Thanksgiving—and then to work it off in the garden. Remove exhausted annuals and trim back dead and dying perennials to two to four inches. As the blooms fade, deadhead other perennials and any tender annuals that are to be brought inside later—or perhaps sooner depending on the weather gods. Leave roses to form seed pods, ‘hips,’ naturally as this prepares them for the winter ahead. While deciduous trees shed their leaves, rake into piles and shred with the lawnmower. Bag and save until late December when they can be used as a mulch. Cooler conditions make for idea lawn growth and continued mowing. Not until next month will the final cut need be administered, then reduce from two inches to just a half-inch high. Half a proper gardener’s life is spent upon his knees, observed the poet—probably mostly weeding. Don’t give up now and allow the blighters to seed themselves in—and never add weed seeds or perennial weed roots to a composter.

Diversion No. 3

Beekeeper Jaimie Grainger won a $1,000 bet in rural Matamata, New Zealand after he sat bare-bottomed atop a beehive for a painful 30 seconds. “It wasn’t pleasant, but it was actually amusing,” the 27-year-old Kiwi said afterward. “As you can imagine, your arse swells up,” buzzed The New York Post. Closer to home, The New Zealand Herald warned that a “bare bum comes with a sting in its tail.”

What has the coming winter in store for us? The weather wonks don’t exactly support folklore but ancient superstitions hold that if blackberries bloom heavily, carrots grow deep, apples mature early, onions grow more layers, hickory nuts have a heavy shell, and sweet potatoes have a tougher skin—you’ve been warned: a bad winter is forecast. And really thinking ahead, wildflower seeds should be sown before Halloween to ensure an early spring.

Diversion No. 4

“You have all been giving your attention to turkey stuffed with sage; now please listen to a sage stuffed with turkey.” Thanksgiving Day talk by an unnamed politician, according to Isaac Asimov

Happy Birthday this month to stage and screen actresses Angela Lansbury, born 16 October 1925 has a ‘keen interest’ in gardening which may explain why, like many who follow the hobby, she is still with us and last month received, perhaps appropriately for a gardener, the Rose d’Or from Europe for her lifetime contribution to entertainment. On the same day in 1946 was born organic gardening enthusiast Suzanne Somers. Catherine Deneuve’s (22 October 1943) favourite pastime is gardening and her garden at Primard has always been her passion. Julia Roberts (28 October 1967) loves organic gardening and teaches her children how to garden.

Other days this month of possible interest include 1st October International Coffee Day as well as UN International Day of Older Persons; 6th October Mad Hatter Day, which will please Angela Lansbury who appreciates her tea. But few European gardeners will be able to work up an enthusiasm over National Mole Day, 23rd October.

Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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