1 November 2023

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October came and went in a flash. Although technically autumn, the temperatures remain mild compared with the average temperatures for this time of year. October also saw some significant rainfall. Although it wasn’t a consistently wet month, the rainfall, when it did come, was extreme.

It has felt that the gardening calendar year has been having a go at redressing the balance from the drought year of 2022. The grass (and weeds) has continued to grow and the window boxes that were put out in May continue to flourish with the bright pink flowers. It has been a funny year but a welcome one.



October is a time when it is perfect for major lawn renovation. This month sees the Front Court lawn undertake some needed TLC. It is the month that the whole team ascend the Front Court lawn to scarify, top dress, aerate and re-seed the lawn. I am always amazed at how much thatch (dead and living material that lies between the soil and the top level of the grass shoots) is removed from the lawn. A scarifying machine is passed over the lawn to remove the thatch in multiple directions and rakes out several cubic meters of debris. The process allows for better drainage. The team also aerates the lawn to relieve compaction from the summer months before top dressing with a sand/loam mix. The top dressing is distributed and levelled before the final task is to overseed.



The final appearance always looks extremely harsh, but the lawns soon bounce back to good health. It will need a few weeks to recover before we add organic fertiliser to help carry the lawn through the harsh winter months until the spring, when the grass will start racing away again.

October has also seen the department busy bulb planting for the spring bulbs. Most of our efforts have taken place on the new build planting beds. Front Court lawn quadrants have seen the amaranthus and geraniums replaced by the new tulip bulbs for the spring - we will be excited to see the results of our labour then.

September and October have also seen the Garden Team prepare the wildflower meadows for the spring. Extra yellow rattle and wildflower seeds have been sown in the Park Terrace meadows and the North Court meadows. Yellow rattle needs a period of harsh and cold weather to help with germination. The yellow rattle helps reduce the grass dominance and creates more space for other wildflowers to develop.

Our usual job of leaf clearing in October has been somewhat delayed this year. Due to the mild weather, the trees have been very happy to hold onto their leaves. The significant leaf drops tend to come after a heavy frost but, so far this year, we have only seen a one-night frost. Please spare a thought for our gardeners during this time of leafing season. We have many more weeks and months ahead of us, tirelessly repeating the monotonous task which is extremely hard work. Please give the team a smile and thank them if you see them. They will all appreciate a welcome comment.

This will be our task for the next few months ahead, although we do have some additional planting to look forward to (mainly in the new build areas) and, of course, some more bulb planting.

Best wishes.

Brendon Sims, Head Gardener


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