A month in Bath Quakers’ Burial Garden – October

Susan Tomes writes

October has been a beautiful month this year in the burial garden, with autumn at its best. There is still plenty of colour, the last of the roses, bronze fennel, golden Amelanchier leaves, deep and light pink anemones, silver lambs’ ears. This is the time to stand back and enjoy, take pleasure in what has been achieved, and wait. A little untidiness in a garden is a good thing, as I keep reminding myself!

At the beginning of the months six Friends spent a beautiful afternoon planting allium and narcissi bulbs. One of our neighbours, who has watched our progress with interest, kindly dug up and split some of her perennials to put in our borders. I am looking forward to seeing the white irises emerge in the spring alongside the purple alliums. Next to them we have planted some large white poppies (also donated). After gardening some of us sat on the new benches in the sun, drinking tea and chatting. The social side of this group is as important as the gardening.

Honey Fungus

Sadly honey fungus has attacked more of the shrubs on the north border. It spreads underground, attacking and killing the roots of perennial plants and then decaying the dead wood. We have noticed the characteristic symptom of honey fungus, which is a white fungal growth between the bark and wood, at ground level on the viburnum and philadelphus (mock orange). There are also clumps of honey coloured toadstools on the infected stumps. The roots of the beautiful bladdernut tree, which is located by the entrance, have also decayed further although the leaves and branches still look healthy. There is little we can do to control honey fungus beyond excavating it and taking the affected material to the tip for landfill. Some plants are more resistant to it than others so we are being very careful about which ones we use to restock the borders.

Sticky Willie/Cleavers/Goose Grass

Cleavers is a common annual weed that has become a bit of a nuisance in the borders. As a child I would have great fun sticking this weed onto the back of friends and waiting to see how long it would take before they noticed. Now I am less fond of it. Apparently the small, hairy seeds are produced in very large quantities, of between 300-400 seeds per plant, easily spread, and can persist in the soil for 6 years. The gardening group is spending much of its time taking out this weed only to find that it has reappeared in even greater numbers the following week. Apart from buying a goose (apparently geese like eating it – hence one of its names) there is not much more that we can do but be patient and as mindful as possible when weeding it out.

North border

Part of this border is now bare after having part of the overgrown laurel hedge removed. Bare is the most unnatural state for soil to be in according to the garden writer Dan Pearson. It is open to desiccation and erosion. Whilst we wait on Friends to indicate what they might like to do with this space volunteers from Goodgym have covered it with a cardboard layer.

Meeting for Worship

A small number of us have continued to meet for worship in the open air at the burial garden, weather permitting. We have been joined by cats, a heron flying by, squirrels, a robin, bats, and a woodpecker. Blankets have kept us warm but with the clocks changing this weekend we will need to rethink when we can meet.

How you can help

There are many ways you can get involved in the burial garden apart from attending MfW or gardening. Perhaps you would like to grow some seeds for us over the winter? We have 8 bags of garden waste (full of honey fungus, cleavers, and other waste that cannot be composted) that need taking to the tip. Could you take a load for us? Could you donate a bird feeder/house/bat box/bird food/a plant?

Please contact Susan for more details at susanetomes@me.com. Susan is happy to arrange for Friends to visit the burial garden.

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