Well that’s it – autumn is here. The first sign for me is the subtle changes in colour of the trees along my drive along the A174 on the way to my job at Stewart Park; it’s always the first indicator that autumn is knocking at the door.
There are so many signs that autumn is arriving in Stewart Park. Firstly, the horse chestnut trees looks a little tatty and brown and beautiful conkers are peeking out from their green shells. Next Ash and White poplar join in and turn a lovely yellow. Red berries in great bunches appear and Rowan leaves turn their burnt red. Apples decorate their trees showing their reds, yellows and bright greens, according to their variety. And in the walled garden the Sedum spectabile, Michaelmas Daisy and Caryopteris all put on a final fling, attracting as many butterflies and bees of all shapes and sizes as they possibly can to feed them up for over the winter.
Summer is gone in the flash of an eye and leaves me wondering how passed so fast. So now we swish through the leaves of many colours as the chlorophyll fades, showing the sugars as colours as they are absorbed back into the tree and fall to the ground, giving the woeful gardener yet another job to add to the list.
This year I’m recycling the leaves in an effort to make leaf mould. I’ve been collecting dumpy bags and will fill them over the winter with the leaves and keep them safe, so the resulting rotted mulch will be added to our beds and borders as a soil conditioner. With the help of our students, all keen to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in, I’m sure we can harvest this “waste material” and convert it into a useful product.
As for saying goodbye to summer, sadly we have also said farewell to our friendly builders from Walter Thompson, who worked tirelessly and caused no end of amusement over the past ten months whilst renovating the Central Lodge. I’ll definitely miss them all and looking at the Central Lodge I can’t believe what a good job they have done. Endless amounts of scaffolding, machinery and paint cans have given way to create a building with a new lease of life. The Askham Bryan students are in, studying hard, and we look forward to grand openings and celebrations in our beautifully renovated time capsule that we call the Central Lodge. It is lovely to see that the students enjoy the building they learn in and hearing them ask questions about the history of the building and Stewart Park. Passing on the history to another generation has been a great treat for all involved.
Although renovated and much more modern now, the restoration has left us many nods to the past; little details like window catches which have been designed specifically to echo those of old, tile frescos and even a Victorian stable block and laundry. Hidden gems have been uncovered and reawakened so that we can appreciate them. The little wonderful touches are everywhere. Interpretation boards have also been created, documenting the history of this wonderful building.
Halloween is just around the corner, as is the December Frost Fare, hosted every year in Stewart Park. Ideas are already coming together for what’s sure to be a great event. I am planting my prepared hyacinths for bowls for Christmas, thankfully there is still time. As we put the walled garden into hibernation, I can get on top of jobs that got put way down on the list.
There’s always something to do in Stewart Park and never a dull moment – sounds like the start of a Chinese Proverb!
A new term, a new season and a building with a new lease of life – it seems that autumn is all about new beginnings this year.