Pumpkins, partners, and plant sales: our autumn garden updates

The museum garden is gorgeous in the autumn. You find deep reds and oranges everywhere you turn: from the leaves of the trees dappled by the crisp autumn sun (the resplendent Liquidambar in particular) to the host of pumpkins and seasonal veggies grown and cared for by our talented team of gardening volunteers.

In this blog, join Cathy–our Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects)–as she shares the latest news and updates from the many beds, spaces and plants throughout the garden.

The gorgeous red Liquid Amber tree in The MERL garden.

Autumn colours in full swing

It has been wonderful to see the garden refreshed and revived after the fierce drought conditions of the summer. Plants have started to grow again, and flowers and produce are much more evident.

We have had tiny Jack Be Little pumpkins in the Suttons flowerbed as well in the Young People With Dementia raised flowerbed. Elsewhere, the annual grass, Panicum Frosted Explosion, sparkles on chilly, dewy mornings.

A display about Little Bo Peep in The MERL herb garden.

The grape vines have been bountiful this year, and little hands have been squishing them to make juice during our Friday Fledglings sessions for the museum’s under 5s.

An enormous thank you to all our ‘Watering Heroes’: volunteers who went above and beyond to keep the garden alive during this very tricky summer. It has been especially challenging when watering by watering can, not hosepipe!

The theme of gardening at The MERL this summer has been keeping the plants alive! The heat and drought took its toll, but with lots of extra watering shifts from the volunteers, most things survived, though if we had been relying on produce from our recreated WW2 'Dig for Victory' bed to keep us fed, we'd have gone hungry! Let's hope for better growing weather next year.

Don, one of our gardening volunteers

Community group beds

Students from Reading Community Learning Centre were able to come and harvest their produce: huge pak choi, spring onions, tomatoes, radishes and lettuce, as well as picking flowers. They have re-sown their bed with autumn salad leaves, which look very happy and healthy. Meanwhile, Cranbury College‘s Sensory Bed is a feast of texture, scent and colour!

Autumn in the garden.

Propagating and plant sales

Our Hear Our Voice gardening group has been busy propagating – growing plants for free (i.e. from cuttings or seeds)! Since Tuesday 25 October, the produce they have grown has been available for purchase via an honesty box at The MERL café entrance (for as long as stock lasts). All proceeds support our projects throughout The MERL garden, so please come and take a look!

Flowers grown by the Hear Our Voice volunteers.
Our Hear Our Voice gardeners.

Visit the garden

Everyone is welcome to visit, explore and enjoy The MERL garden. Our wonderful Ways into Work student says being here means ‘being surrounded by plants and wildlife – it is a place of happiness’. We would love for you to join us and experience this for yourself. Plan your visit right here on our website.

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