• The Blooming Old Gardener

When Witches Go Riding


‘When witches go riding and black cats are seen. The moon laughs and whispers, tis’ near Halloween ‘ - anonymous

Well, it’s nearly Halloween and apart from a few black cats that might be seen prowling round, we haven’t decorated the garden for Halloween this year. There’s not a Blooming pumpkin to be seen in these strange times, but there’s plenty of other things. Colourful plants and bright, textured grasses and the Bugingham Palace spiders that are at their largest (and sometimes pregnant) at this time of the year.

As well as the dead coming alive, Halloween was seen as a time of love. With apple bobbing, the first girl to get a bite would be the first to marry the following year. If she put the apple under her pillow she might dream of who she was to marry. Perhaps that’s where all our garden apples went. It was also a tradition to make a mash of nine ingredients (leeks, cream, carrots, swede etc) and hide a wedding ring in it. Whoever got the ring portion of the mash was the next to marry. So get cooking!

The main jobs in the garden this month have involved tidying up ready for the winter. Pruning, weeding, deadheading. The ivy tree has been cut back so we can shelter underneath it again when it’s raining. The cardoon has been thinned out as there were too many plants in the tub. It still produced its amazing thistle-like flower head during the summer though.

The beans and tomato plants have now finished and been pulled up. So I had a Bloomers green tomato chutney making session using tomatoes, onions and garlic from the garden. And apples were donated by volunteer Phoebe’s mum, Barbara.


I’ve also been busy tidying my own garden recently, so that I can store young plants under cover, over the winter. However, I was cutting back some plants and I managed to ‘prune’ the solar powered lights in the border. Then I was repacking a layer of my wormery and it wasn’t until I had put it all back, that I realised about 50 baby worms had fallen off the bottom of a shelf onto my feet. Some were tiny, so not very easy to pick up, but I think I got them all though. I’m often asked about the worms escaping, but they don’t. They like the darkness of the wormery and hate daylight. They also like the comfort of the compost bed they make and the regular supply of food. So why wander off?

This year we avoided hanging baskets with flowers or tomatoes in the Bloomers garden. We could not water them frequently enough for them to thrive. However, we utilised the bird feeder by hanging baskets there with sempervivums in. They can manage without regular watering. It takes a while to establish them, but once they are happy they produce ‘chicks’. Our baskets are doing that now. Hopefully, they will survive the winter and this time next year the baskets will be covered in them.

Talking about things being covered. The fungi on the big reading seat are still there. There are also new fungi popping up all the time. They seem to love the reading circle, but now we have them in the border and the raised bed too, as they love the rainy weather. Someone has lent me a book to identify them, but without success, as so many look alike. I don’t think I’ll risk eating any though.


The Blooming Old Gardener

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