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Cricklepit Garden Group autumn: fallen leaves and woodland flowers

Posted: Thursday 12th October 2017 by trustadmin

Bug hotel at Cricklepit MillBug hotel in autumn at Cricklepit Mill

Orange brown leaves pepper the green grass in the Cricklepit garden as autumn begins again and the Cricklepit Garden Group are busy getting the garden prepared for winter.

Welcome to the fourth quarterly blog by the Devon Wildlife Trust’s volunteer Cricklepit Garden Group who look after the RHS award winning wildlife garden at the Trust’s headquarters at Cricklepit Mill in Exeter.

The theme for this blog is autumn, the meteorologists for statistical purposes regard autumn as starting on the 1st September, astronomically it is the autumn equinox which in the northern hemisphere is Friday 22 September, when night and day are roughly equal length. A third definition comes from phenology – the study of periodic plant and animal cycle events. Not a set date or a single event but by changes in the natural world, such as the leaves changing colour or the ripening of autumn fruits. When this occurs is largely weather dependent and can vary from year to year.

Certainly this year the chilly nights have already arrived, an indicator to plants that summer is over and to stop producing chlorophyll. It is the chlorophyll that makes the colour green the dominant colour in leaves, with the ending of chlorophyll production this allows yellows and reds to dominate and hence the bright autumn colour from trees such as maples, beech and oak.

Make a home for hedgehogs

Hedgehog in autumn leavesDo not dispose of all the fallen leaves, a pile of leaves in a corner provides perfect winter habitat for hedgehogs.

Over the autumn the Garden Group will be starting work on our next large project the creation of a woodland glade which will start with clearing and preparing the area before planting predominantly native woodland flowers, shrubs and ferns. The glade will occupy the area of the wildlife garden from the shed and compost bin up to the back gate and the steps down to the hide area. Autumn is the best time to plant out most trees and shrubs whilst the soil is still warm from the summer and allows them to settle in before winter dormancy.

We will also be developing the Potager Garden including planting some winter crops such as brassicas following our experiment over the summer growing garlic, onions, peas and tomatoes which we have harvested. We still have Swiss chard to pick and parsnips to dig up within the vegetable bed.

Other autumn jobs include lawn care, dividing summer flowering perennials and planting out spring bulbs and planning for next year, a gardener’s work is never done.

The next blog will be the winter edition in early 2018 until then happy wildlife gardening.

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