At some point during this month you’ll stop abruptly as you wander the meandering dew-soaked path towards the compost heap. There! You caught it again. The unmistakeable ‘season of mist and mellow fruitfulness’. A combination derived from the slow breakdown of leaf and blade, of damp lawns, bonfires, and fallen apples - their sweet alcoholic vapour enfusing the air.
Originally the eighth month in the ancient Roman calendar, attempts were made to name it after various Roman emperors but the name October stuck. The old English name was Winmonath meaning wine month - the time when country wine was made.
The first Sunday of October sees the Pearly King and Queen harvest festival take place in St Martin in the Fields, London. All the ‘Kings and Queens’ gather in their finest suits decorated with pearl buttons, a 19th century tradition started by Henry Croft, a street sweeper, who donned his colourful attire and went out on to the streets to raise money for charity.
Gardeners with a horse chestnut tree may like to consider entering The World Conker Championships which take place this month. The Shuckburgh Arms pub in Southwick, Northamptonshire is the venue where hundreds of competitors from around the world compete to see who’s conker is the strongest, the winner being crowned on the conker champion throne.
On average October will have 35 hours less sunshine than September and old weather lore suggests that if October is cold with strong winds and frost then January and February will be mild.
October’s gardening babies include Rachel de Thame, Roddy Llewelyn, Toby Buckland, and Stefan Buczacki.