Gardening news round-up
In the news...
Any gardener who cares about their garden wildlife will be watching progress closely at the Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya, Japan, which opened amid dire and gloomy predictions for the world's wildlife this week: science correspondent Tom Fielden's report for R4's Today Programme painted a grim picture of apathy and a headlong spiral into oblivion for much of our natural world. If you need convincing that biodiversity matters, spare a thought for the poor apple growers in China who have to go round pollinating all their apple trees by hand because there aren't enough insects to do it for them: try that in your own garden and you'll soon realise the point of wildlife, and lots of it.
Congratulations to Ian and Stuart Paton, twin brothers from Hampshire who broke their own record for the largest pumpkin ever grown in the UK: 682kg (1,504 lbs) and 5m around the girth. Unfortunately poor old Toby Buckland's pumpkin, entered in the same Southampton show, didn't get a look-in: in his words, 'bigger and better pumpkins won the day but still head held high'. Maybe next year.
Elsewhere on the web...
The amazingly talented kids at the Writhlington School Orchid Project in Radstock, near Bath, have persuaded their Bulbophyllum 'Elizabeth Anne' to produce an unbelievable eighteen flower spikes; though since they smell of fresh mackerel that's less good news that it might seem.
Meanwhile Veg Plotting has been revealing her secret recipe for apple juice, Deb at Carrots and Kids has come up with some wicked ideas for things to do with the kids in the garden over half-term; and John Crace has been getting everyone hot under the collar about daffodils over at The Guardian – he hates them. 'Dull', 'hideous' and 'pointless', he says: but then his all-time favourite is the hopelessly over-the-top Fritillaria meleagris, which always smells faintly reminiscent of cat wee to me. Bring out your favourite bulbs – especially if they're daffs – and beat the drum for them here.
Out and about...
Apple Day this week – and that can mean only one thing. This weekend the whole country is going apple mad. So practice your apple bobbing technique, pick those mystery apples for identifying, and get along to an appley event near you.
From an apple festival at RHS Harlow Carr in Harogate with tasting, identification and advice to An Apple a Day - a week-long series of apple events for all the family in Cambridge - there's something (in fact probably several things) apple-related going on near you all week long. Find a full list of events on the charity Common Ground's website.
If by now, however, you're all appled out, you can still have an autumnal time of it. Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is making the most of its dazzling annual fireworks display of autumn colour with its Autumnal Highlights festival: have a go at tree-inspired art, and learn all about why leaves change colour.
And in London, there's a rare opportunity to take a walk around Kensington Gardens in the company of Royal Parks gardeners to find out how they prepare this most special of parks for the winter ahead. It's free, but you've got to book via the Royal Parks website.
If you spotted any horticultural news stories this week or have any tips for autumnal entertaining during half term, add your comments below for all to share.
Sally Nex is a garden writer and blogger and part of the BBC Gardening team.