My marvellous Kent Claret vine ... I bought it from Victoriana Nursery to keep my ever-faithful calendulas company. Friend Wendy recommends the grapes for grape jelly.

Happy harvesting … my Great Auntie Bee's watercolour of farming life as it used to be, painted in 1950.

The creative mind in action … Coppicing days, Pheasants Coppice, Bishopsbourne.

History …In the garden of Serre de la Madonne, Menton. Seems I wasn’t the only admirer.

Happy birthday! ... My 50th Birthday Party 9th September 2010 at Jenny's, also with Hilda, Becca, Vittorio, Robin and Yvonne and Bianca - Caprese Michelangelo, Toscana. A very special day.

Birthday girl ... Mrs G picking flowers on the morning of her 80th Birthday, a few seconds before she realised that I had arrived.

Now is the time to buy your Aguadulce broad bean seeds – big fat chaps that Jack would recognise; even though they do not grow as tall; just as well.

Sowing them within the next two months allows them a greater chance to flourish next year without the famous disease of blackspot appearing.

Garlic, of a variety suitable for England, can go on the same shopping list as these broad beans. I find the Solent variety gives very good results.

S T A R S

Throw the last diamond in your poverty pocket into the gutter.
As far, far away as possible,
And further still if you can.
And you will find, one day, when you are in the dark,
That there will be and you will see,
Hundreds and hundreds of stardiamondsstars,
Lighting up the dark sky, smiling at you,
And waving their starry hands in friendly greeting,
Even though they may be quite out of sight.

- 26.ix.15

And once you have roasted and eaten Elephant garlic, spread on some warm, crusty bread, you will know these are an important must grow, too.

Garlic needs a good month of freezing conditions to get its internal motor going.

Image of part of  a HealingGardens co dot uk webpage to illustrate the article.
Yummy ... Add elephant garlic to warm, crusty bread, and you'll know why it's a must for your garden.

I still stick to my 'plant on the Shortest Day, harvest on the Longest Day' philosophy for garlic, not only because it works for me, but also because I like the poetry of it, as I hope you do too. And it gets them planted.

Break the bulb

Just remove the papery skin around the garlic bulb, then break the bulb in to individual cloves, and place them gently, so as not to damage their roots, below the surface of your good earth, pointy end upwards, so the top of this 'sail' is just covered by the earth.

Garlic can be planted earlier if you like, but harvesting on the Longest Day rule should be obeyed, before their stems turn brown; just ask the Garlic Farm (on the Isle of Wight), who taught me this.

Bulbs for late winter and spring flowering should now be bought. Crocuses can be planted now.

Planting crocuses in lawns is safe enough, survival-wise, as the bulbs will have gained energy from their green stems before the mowing begins again next year, and so will reappear, again.

Image of part of  a HealingGardens co dot uk webpage to illustrate the article.
Love 'em ... or hate them, they're very much at home in our gardens.
It can be very rewarding to plant a handful where some human traffic passes, although the reward may have to be imagined, not seen, which can make this even better.

Why pigeons enjoy eating or destroying yellow crocuses is a mystery; it is wise to choose other colours.

How about planting some white crocuses in a favourite starry constellation as a surprise for someone?

It can be very rewarding to plant a handful where some human traffic passes, although the reward may have to be imagined, not seen, which can make this even better.

Daffodils should also be planted now, so concentrate on buying and planting these. Tulips should be planted last of all in November.

Forgive the daffodils next June and their brown, papery leaves – the colour they will give you after winter will make them so welcome, that this may be a small matter.

Mow them down

Or, simply mow them down and replant some new ones each year. Shocking, but not illegal.

If these are in pots, just have some other bulbs ready to take their place.

The number one enemy for most with planting bulbs is when they are disturbed or ruined by squirrels.

Image of part of  a HealingGardens co dot uk webpage to illustrate the article.
Lonely as a cloud ... Now is the time for all good daffs to come to the aid of the garden.

Cayenne pepper has been suggested as an answer, but since I have never heard (or seen) a squirrel sneeze, I can only imagine this is not the best way to stop them.

Aside from planting your bulbs in your neighbour's garden, in the hope that squirrels will obligingly replant them in yours, I think that pots are the answer.

Keep them in a cool, airy, dark place, water to stop them from drying out - bulbs, not squirrels - and then move them into place, or plant in clumps without disturbing the roots, once the green shoots appear.

Once their green shoots are showing, they are safe from attack. And attacks in second and subsequent years don't seem to occur. Or, order several very large containers of top-sneeze making cayenne pepper.

And so to wish you well this autumn, as you plant your white crocuses perhaps, here is a poem linked to my suggested method of planting these, called Stars.

And, to follow, my harvest poem, with both Janet Allis's illustration, and my Great Auntie Bee's watercolour painted in 1950 to colour the words. Please contact me if you have any gardening questions.

Robert Graham's HealingGardens.click | Email | Wye, Ashford, Kent TN25 5DD | © 2000 - 2017