By Maureen Panchen and Mark Bobin
AUTUMN PLANTING, THE FARM AND MEDIEVAL TRADITIONS
The colours at Minterne are already changing – Dense honey-coloured light of late summer evenings shines through the scissor-cut red leaves of a Japanese maple, illuminating the cascades at Minterne. What better backdrop for those budding photographers who still want to enter the FACEBOOK photographic competition for the chance to win family season tickets? Closing date: November 17th
Temperatures cool and top growth slows, but soils are still warm from a summer of slow heat absorption, and will stay this way for some time. Placed in this warm and usually moist environment, and with little top growth to support, plants concentrate their energy on reaching their roots down and out, creating a network that will sustain them for a lifetime. So now the autumn planting begins – an exciting new project for Minterne Gardens will be a renovation to one of the main areas of the garden. The gardeners call the bed in question “The Triangle Bed” for obvious reasons! The existing plants will be moved to a different home in the garden, as they have become too large for the area and a new and different planting scheme will take place. The main focus of plants will be dramatically exotic leaves & flowers; such as Arisaema speciosum (cobra lily), crinum x powellii ‘Album’ and Amorphophallus konsale are among some of the exotic and unusual specimens you will see.
Farm vehicles will be working on the land with the last cuts of silage being taken in the Cerne Valley. The cereal harvest is mainly finished, leaving stubble fields ready for ploughing to prepare the ground for next year’s crops with Winter barley being sown by the end of the month.
The Anglo-Saxons called September ‘Gerst monath’ (Barley month) as this was the time when they harvested barley to be made into their favourite drink.
One of the medieval traditions as the crops were being gathered was “Calling the Mare“. Folklore has it that Farmers raced to gather their crops before their neighbours. The last harvest sheaf was then used to make a rough mare shape which each farmer would throw to his neighbour when he had finished. Shouts of ‘Mare, Mare’ echoed around the fields as each farmer who received the sheaf had to race to finish. The last farmer to finish then had to keep the ‘mare’ on display all year – everyone would then know he was the slowest farmer around!! Thank goodness for John Deere we hear farmers say!?
Images Courtesy of Peter Bootton.
Gardens open daily 10am – 6pm, Entrance £5 (Season tickets available here). On the A352 Dorchester to Sherborne road.
Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm * 1st February to 11th November * Admission Price £6.00 (Children under 12 Free)
Season Tickets Available Here
Dogs welcome on leads * Parking is FREE for visitors in the car park opposite St Andrews Church * Minterne currently offers a selection of cream teas (weather permitting - please phone ahead to confirm) * Please note: Unfortunately, Minterne Gardens feature many uneven surfaces and are therefore NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs * Minterne House itself is a private residence and therefore not open to the public without prior consent.