A View from the Garden Gate Project: Great Autumn Open Day, Our Response to Warming Climate and happiness at falling leaves

Flower crown fun at the Autumn Open Day

By Nick Condron

We would all like to thank everyone who came along to support our Autumn Falling Leaves Open Day on Saturday 29th October. We were very fortunate with the fine weather and as always it was a great pleasure to share the garden with so many familiar as well as some very welcome new faces. In total we raised around £1,500 from the sale of our pumpkin flavoured pizzas and soup; teas and homemade cakes; jams and chutneys made from our produce; plants that we’ve grown; various arts and crafts including jewellery, flower crowns and colouring in; delicious popcorn; apples picked from the Brogdale orchards and their freshly pressed juice; and our very own Wishing Well. The money will be put towards our Tim Mountford Memorial Fund, which you may know we plan to use to support a horticultural trainee’s employment for a year here at the garden.

As our unseasonably mild, extended summer-like weather continues into the first week of November, we are all becoming ever more aware that our climate appears to have already changed from what we remember in the past. Glad of the warmth and our plants’ extended flowering season, we recognise the immediate and short term benefits. However, over the longer term the disturbance to our seasonal patterns and the lives of our plants, insects and wild animals is of the utmost concern. Fortunately, as gardeners we are uniquely placed to make choices and take actions that have a significant impact on how our environment continues to change in the future.

Apples from Brogdale

The nation’s leading charity in the sector, the Royal Horticultural Society, has put in place its sustainability strategy ‘Net Positive for Nature and People by 2030’, which is freely available online and outlines a set of focussed and achievable targets it hopes to meet over the course of this decade. Here at the Garden, we are fortunate to have been bringing ourselves into alignment with each of its key points. Encouragingly, it states that: “If every UK gardener planted a medium tree in their community, school, workplace or garden and nurtured it to maturity, these trees would store carbon equivalent to driving 11.4 million times around our planet.” Engaging with our own gardens and plants may seem like a tiny drop in a vast ocean, but combined together we can each be part of a mighty wave of positive effect.

Bead threading at the Open Day

November always fires a host of memories of crisp yellow leaves scrunching satisfyingly underfoot. Every now and again an acorn, horse chestnut or walnut that has evaded the attention of the squirrels, will appear amidst the leaf litter and invite closer examination, transporting me back to many happy times gone by. One such, brings to mind a charming folk tale told to me by a dear gardening friend a decade or so ago. The story begins with a young princess who has suddenly become sad and stopped laughing. Many cures were tried, but nothing worked. One day, a young boy arrived at the palace poorly dressed and carrying a huge old sack. Something about the cheerful lad allowed him to be admitted. On entering, he opened the sack and the colourful leaves tumbled out making the princess burst out laughing!

Even if you only have fun catching a single falling leaf, it is often said to bring a day’s happiness. Whatever joyful endeavours the garden invites you to participate in, do make the most of it and be sure to reap the array of rewards on offer.


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