This Sunday, 31st October the clocks will go back so we can get an extra hour in bed.  We will also move to Winter closing time for the gardens which is 4pm.

On this Autumnal note have you ever wondered how plants know when winter is approaching? Certain flowers, like poinsettias, only bloom during the winter. And, in the spring, the winter buds on the trees open and the leaves start to grow, but how do plants detect the time of year, and set their seasonal activities according to the yearly cycle?

We might notice seasonal changes by the change in temperature, but this is not the way in which many plants know that the seasons are changing. Many plants determine the time of year by the length of daylight by a process called photoperiod. Due to the tilt of the earth, winter days in the Northern hemisphere have fewer hours of light than during summer days. That’s why, in the winter, it starts getting dark very early in the evening. However in the summer it will be bright early in the morning, and the sun will not set until late at night. A light-sensitive pigment produced in plants called phytochrome is responsible for the process called photoperiodism. Phytochrome enables plants to detect the presence or absence of daylight, and thereby allows plants to recognise differences in day length throughout the year. This is like the plant equivalent of our body clock. For example, in the Autumn when the days start to get shorter, trees sense that there are fewer hours of sunlight. Deciduous trees respond to this change by sending messages to their leaves telling them to change colours and drop off. This is another example of photoperiodism, a plant’s response to changing lengths of light and dark periods. Many flowering plants sense the length of night, a dark period, as a signal to flower. Each plant has a different photoperiod, or night length. When the plant senses the appropriate length of darkness, resulting in an appropriate length of daylight, it flowers. Flowering plants are classified as long-day plants, and short-day plants. Further research has also revealed that there is a third group of plants that do not respond differently to the length of darkness. These plants are known as day-neutral plants.

Long-day plants flower when the length of daylight exceeds the necessary photoperiod, and short-day plants flower when the day length is shorter than the necessary photoperiod. Long-day plants include carnations, clover, lettuce, wheat, and turnips. Short-day plants include Sage (Salvia), some varieties of strawberries and Chrysanthemum which you can see flowering rather splendidly right now in the Upper Greenhouse.

This week, with the leaves changing to autumn colours and falling on the paths, we are doing regular leaf raking in order to keep our paths free of slippery wet leaves.

We are continuing to turn our compost heaps because this is the best way of speeding up the process of the breakdown of plant material and its transformation into valuable well rotted garden compost with which we can replenish our vegetable beds.

We will continue to work on the raspberry bed, cutting back the old fruited canes, weeding around them before applying a good layer of well rotted manure.

In other BPCG news, you may know that the weekend before last, in the early hours of Sunday morning, thieves got into BPCG and smashed the locked inner glass door of our office. The kitchen door was also smashed but not right through so access was gained via the small windows which were accidentally also unlocked. Some white goods were taken and a lot of mess created.  We are hopeful that the insurance will cover the thefts – and will continue to be vigilant about our security arrangements.  We are very sad that this happened and hugely appreciate the kind words that everyone has said to us to commiserate.

Workshops coming up….On Saturday 30th October, 2pm to 4.30pm, Jelena Belgrave is running a Fermentation workshop and there just a few more places left on this.  And then she is running 2 more on 13th and 27th November 2 to 4.30pm. To book, go here

On Sunday 31st October 10am to 1pm, come to our willow weaving workghop and learn how to weave willow and create beautiful willow plant supports for your garden? These are a super attractive way to support your taller plants and create sculptural interest in your garden year round. We can also teach you how to make willow decorative items for Christmas including Christmas wreaths. Cat our Community Gardener (and trained sculptor) will lead this 3 hour Sunday morning session. You can choose what you wish to make and take your willow weaving away with you at the end of the workshop. For more information and to book go here

And looking back, Young Propagators Society held an excellent evening event at BPCG in August, called Roots and Radicles with speakers Carole Wright and Richard Choksey. Here’s the fascinating write up and lovely images of the event are here

In other news, Food Cycle Wandsworth are opening a project in the Wandsworth Road area from Friday 19th November as a weekly community meal where guests can enjoy a free vegetarian meal together which has been prepared by our lovely volunteer team. They have made sure that the venue is as safe as possible for us to welcome people back by ensuring there is adequate ventilation, providing sanitiser and our volunteers are still advised to wear face coverings where possible. FoodCycle Wandsworth Road will take place from Friday 19th November, from 12.30 – 1.30pm at Christ Church Community Hall, 39 Union Grove, London, SW8 2QJ  For more info go here  FCW do not need a referral from our guests and don’t ask any questions about circumstance when guests receive our food.