My one big surprise after those few days of very early autumn rain last week was to find my front lawn under the weeping willow tree just full of clumps of mushrooms. I have never learnt their botanical name but once we knew they were edible we have been eating them ever since they first started growing there and have been growing on that same lawn autumn through to spring nearly every time it rains. This week we picked over two kilos on the first morning we discovered them. More came out a day or so later but the slugs and snails got at them before I could and they never look quite as appetizing when they have been nibbled all round the edges or even holes in the middle of the cap, but two kilos was a fair enough quantity of mushrooms to harvest at one picking! Here I must warn you that unless you are really sure of your mushrooms, never eat them without first making sure that they are not poisonous. A chemist can send a sample away to a laboratory to ensure this, unless you know someone who can identify the type of mushroom/fungi .you have found There are in fact just as many edible as non, its just a matter of recognising the ones you have picked. Having mentioned snails, if you really like them as an appetising dish collect them and keep them in a little wire cage or such like until you have enough for a good cook -up. Personally I am not a snail lover and often put down snail bait to help get rid of them. In this case you will often find the dried out empty shell and the mushrooms intact.
I think I can safely say that now is when the Bignonia family is really at its best with its large clumps of pink or orange blooms on the ends of yards long creepers. This is when you will discover if you have it planted in the right place and although not really the right time to prune it really doesn’t hurt the creeper to cut back the intrusive long growth if it has got out of hand. It certainly needs support to help it up over pergolas or along the top of an unsightly fence but once you have it established you will have it forever. It will just need to be kept in hand like a young teenager except you can’t cut them back every year! Bignonia will need that really hard prune every year once the leaves have fallen at the end of the autumn. Along with this climbing shrub you can count on Morning Glory as being an intrusive climber if left to its own devises that may well make you ask yourself why you ever introduced it into the garden. On the other hand, if you have the room and encourage it to grow where you want it you will never cease to wonder at the colour and amount of flowers it produces every day, no wonder its common name is ‘morning glory’ It is of the Convolulous family and can be seen growing wild all over the place but kept in hand can enhance any corner of the garden.
I have not mentioned any of the jobs that can be done in the garden today, actually all that goes without saying because the garden is never ending. Bulbs are important to start planting up if you want spring flowers and of course all the spring bedding plants, most seeds germinate well about now. Geraniums and Roses and the like need to be continually dead-headed to keep them tidy and encourage new growth, its not really time to prune them yet, just enjoy the last flowers that keep coming. Sweeping up those falling leaves and bracts from the Bougainvillea is an endless job from now on, smaller leaves will be easy to add to the compost heap to rot down with everything else but some of the other larger leaves like the Rubber tree or Loquat (Nispero) just never rot down, there is no other option but black bag and bin them. Remember its is still NOT time to light fires to burn up garden rubbish, we have another six or eight weeks to go before Civil Protection will be giving us the go-ahead to light bonfires in the garden or open fields.