Nature's cloak: Enjoy the visual richness of seasonal colour at Eagleswood

PUBLISHED: 01:16 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013

Nature's cloak: Enjoy the visual richness of seasonal colour at Eagleswood

Nature's cloak: Enjoy the visual richness of seasonal colour at Eagleswood

Enjoy the visual richness of seasonal colour at Eagleswood, near Lenham, with its blend of foliage and flower

Enjoy the visual richness of seasonal colour at Eagleswood, near Lenham, with its blend of foliage and flower


October sees deciduous trees shed a fluttering cascade of leaves, forming a carpet underfoot of russet and bronze in a kaleidoscope tapestry. Plants slowly shut down for a winter rest and the rhythm of the garden takes on a mellow feel here at Eagleswood.


Slants of low light illuminate wafting seed heads on grasses, while natures hues are of rich tones from colouring foliage and the last of the perennials.


Open through the National Gardens Scheme this month is this lovely plantsmans garden of lawns, herbaceous plants, mature trees and shrubs. Set over an acre-and-a-half on the North Downs, this woodland-style garden offers year-round interest in an informal setting.


Michael and Edith Darvill moved to Eagleswood from the Mendip Hills in Somerset in October 1987, just days before the great storm which brought down some of the mature trees on the plot.


There was little formal garden, just two flower shrub beds along the front of the house, mature trees on the boundary and grass, as well as the odd tree at the front, says Mike. The bulk of the three-acres was freshly seeded paddocks.


With no set plan but a visual conception of what they wanted the garden to look like in the future, the couple set about developing the garden. We shaped it out in stages over many years with string and hosepipe, Mike adds.


An interest in gardening was sparked at their first home back in 1963 and has been honed over many years. Eagleswood is well stocked with a wide range of plant material, from alpines to trees, with the Darvills admitting
that they are particularly attracted to trees and shrubs for the variety they offer for year-round value.


There have been challenges along the way in the evolution of the garden, in particular dealing with the exposed aspect of the garden which was dealt with by planting windbreaks, and the indigenous wildlife rabbits, moles and pheasants (an ongoing battle).


Highlights in the garden for October are the burnished deciduous trees, along with underplantings of shrubs such as cornus and hydrangeas with their muted hues, and vibrant splashes of the odd dahlia and asters filling in the scene.


It all depends on the weather, but the Nyssa sylvatica and sinensis, enkianthus, prunus, acers, fothergilla and sorbus should all be making a good contribution, says Mike.


Our garden in autumn gives us great pleasure with its tranquil setting, especially in the early mornings and evenings with the mist and the sunlight shining through the trees and emphasising the range of subtle colours.


We also like to walk around the garden to see the forming flower buds of the magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons, giving us promise of an exciting display for the following spring, says Edith.


The couple have been opening their garden to visitors since May 2008 on selected days as they enjoy meeting people, sharing their garden, chatting to like-minded fellow gardeners and hearing of their experiences with various plants.


What our visitors enjoy is hard to say, but many appreciate the wide range of plants we grow. The most common comment is remarking on the peace and tranquility of the garden, says Mike.


GET IN TOUCH


Eagleswood, Warren Street, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2EG Sunday 16 October (11am-5pm) Visitors also welcome by appointment: Mike.darvill@btinternet.com


Action plan for October


Plant of the month
Physalis ground cherry or Chinese lantern
vigorous perennial
adds colour in autumn garden
attractive papery, vivid orange, lantern-shaped seed coverings
use dried lanterns in floral arrangements cut stems as start to colour


Growing notes
hardy
well-drained soil, sun or part shade
water regularly
H 60cm to 90cm
can become invasive in rich soils
to control, spread cut around crown each autumn
sow seeds spring or summer
propagate by division beginning of spring


To taste
Harvest and store pumpkins,marrows, potatoes and carrots
Sow hardy varieties of peas, broad beans and lettuce under cloches
Protect brassicas and late-fruiting berries from birds
Remove all apples and pears before end of the month

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