by Maureen Panchen



Some claim that an “Indian summer” cannot come until after the first damaging frost of autumn, or after a severely cold episode sometimes known as a “Squaw Winter”.

It’s probably too early for an autumn frost at Mintern, and we are hoping for some balmy weather to grace the Cerne Valley for a few more weeks to come. Meanwhile Minterne’s Head Gardener Mark Bobin and his gardeners are getting the garden ready for the autumn months ahead.

Work already in progress this year:

  • Tree planting to provide much needed dappled shade & leaf mulch.
  • New paths to expand the visitor experience & show off hidden gems in the garden; including a path through the bluebells & daffodils to be completed early 2017.
  • Permanent labelling of trees & shrubs, mapping out herbaceous borders – this will help our record keeping.
  • A small plantation of Silver Birch to be completed early 2017.
  • Adding new summer flowering plants to increase the show throughout the year to be completed spring 2017.
  • A new authentic Himalayan Hut to be built and the area planted.


We always hope for another opportunity for late summer days and autumn heatwaves are frequently dubbed “Indian summers“.

But, where did this expression come from?

A late-19th Century Boston lexicographer named Albert Matthews made an exhaustive search of early American literature in an attempt to discover who coined the expression. The first reference he found dated from 1778, but from the context it was clearly already in widespread use.

The North American Indians – native Americans – who lived on the eastern seaboard used to depend on extended periods of fine, quiet, sunny weather at this time of the year to complete their harvest and to put together stores of food to see them through the long, cold winter.

The north-eastern US is well known for the combination of high temperatures and high humidity levels during the summer, often starting in June and not subsiding until September.

The early settlers quickly became aware of the contrast between the debilitating heat of high summer and the more comfortable conditions which prevailed during the autumn. During this time, long periods of hard work could be tackled without risk of heatstroke. They also noted that practically every autumn produced at least one such spell – many had two or three.

Is it too optimistic to hope for two or three heatwaves during the Autumn at Minterne Magna?!


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Images Courtesy of Jeremy Walker.

Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm    *    1st February to 8th 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.