This is my favourite colour combination - bright pink and orange - beautifully demonstrated by the berries on the Euonymus tree on the wildlife plot. It was a bit hidden by some large suckering cherries which is such a shame because it also has fantastically coloured leaves that are bright red and is a real feature of one of the end beds down towards the bank.  The other photo is of the leaves on the Euonymus alatus in my garden and  they are the reddest of red and will become brighter and brighter as autumn continues until it looks like it is on fire.  And that is why its common name is Burning bush. A fabulous autumn display which I am working towards being more obvious on the plot next year.  This month there are: Additions to the plot, Planning for a tree guild and Things that have to go!



Additions to the plot

As I clear some of the invasive plants under the trees at the end of the plot, I am putting in ferns that I no longer need in my garden.  They are going in at the edge of the beds with the trees so that they get some sunlight and I am hoping that they eventually trap the fallen leaves on the bed. At the moment they all blow off and around the compost heaps and paths at the back.

Into the bed where I am going to put a fruit tree I have put comfrey, cerinthe major purpurescens seedlings and daffodils that were gifted as part of the guild for the tree. (see below for more about guilds). The phacelia  that I sowed in September has grown as soil cover to reduce the weeds. I am hoping that it will flower early next year and the bees and other insects love it.


One of the features of Permaculture is that when you plant a fruit tree, you also plant other shrubs, bushes and perennials so that there is a polyculture surrounding the fruit tree. It isn't any old plant though, they are plants which support the growth of the tree and this group of plants is known as a guild.  Think of a crafts guild or merchants guild where the members work together rather than competing.  Alongside this, you are also trying to mimic nature and have layers of planting just like in a forest with many plants placed at the drip line of the leaves and where the whole should be greater than the sum of the parts.  A guild will consist of:

  • plants that fix nitrogen. When you chop or prune these plants (or any other plants for that matter) they shed roots which in the case of legumes contain nitrogen. Examples are clover, lupins, beans and peas.
  • dynamic accumulators which are plants that bring nutrients up from deep down because they have long roots. Examples are comfrey, borage, fennel, lemon balm, marigold, mullein, parsley, Jerusalem artichokes and globe artichokes, nettles, valerian, yarrow and amaranth. Often, with these plants you do what is called 'chop and drop' where you cut the plants down, chop up the cuttings and use it as a mulch around the tree and the other plants. It saves putting the cuttings on the compost heap and is much easier to do in a garden where you might not be quite so bothered about whether the slugs and snails hide under the choppings.
  • plants that attract pollinators such as hyssop, borage, lavender, lupin, rose, thyme, violet, poppy and sometimes currant bushes. You are aiming to have something that is in flower throughout the year around the tree and you definitely need several things that flower at the same time as the tree.
  • plants that repel pests such as daffodils, dill, marigold and sunflowers.
  • plants that provide ground cover. Examples would be strawberries, salad, squash, courgettes, nasturtiums and viper's bugloss which is a member of the borage family.

Several of the plants will fit into more than one category. For instance, comfrey is a nutrient accumulator but bees also love the flowers. It is obviously not possible to plant all of these at once but the first group of plants that should go in when you plant a tree is the nitrogen fixers closely followed by the dynamic accumulators.

So, I have researched which plants would be best to go in a cherry tree guild and have written about it here for those that are interested.

Things that have to go!

There have been some beautiful autumn days this month which have meant that I have been able to do quite a bit of work.  One of the key jobs this autumn, winter and next spring is to remove the invasive plants that are bulbs, have white flowers and smell like garlic otherwise known as Snowbell or Allium triquetrum.  I had this plant in my garden when I moved into the house 20 years ago. I left it to grow for three years, thinking it was pretty, and have spent the next 17 years trying to get rid of it. It is almost all gone but will keep appearing between the front wall and the tarmac where I can't get at the bulbs.  This plant has been spreading on the plot for about 5 years now and is well and truly established. When you dig up what you think is going to be one or two bulbs, a whole clump comes up which is so congested that the bulbs are being forced up onto the surface of the soil. I have filled two compost bags with it already.  I have investigated the plant and whether it is the only food source for a particular insect and whether there are any other reasons I should keep it.  There aren't. It flowers in June and there are plenty of other plants that would flower at that time so using permaculture principles, I have planned how to get rid of it over the next few years. If you are interested, you can read about it here.

What's on the plot this month?

Flowers: Daphne odora (I think), Verbena bonariensis, Marigold, purple loosestrife, cyclamen, rosemary, purple loosestrife

Berries/fruits: Cotoneaster, sloes, Hypericum, Euonymus, Braeburn apple, Hawthorn, blackberry, Himalyan honeysuckle

Nuts/seeds: Golden rod, Acanthus, Buddleja

When I was at the bottom end of my plot I could hear a tremendous buzzing and it turned out to be bees and insects of all types on the ivy flowers. This is something we don't yet have in the wildlife garden although we do have ivy. It just isn't mature enough yet but is something to be encouraged. I also found this caterpillar on the hazel leaves and think it is an immature Oak eggar caterpillar. If you know differently, do leave a comment for me.