It has been some time since I featured the greenhouse. It may be small but I try to maximise the space as much as possible. The raised sand beds are beginning to bear fruit with the first bulbs flowering. Some crocus have been and gone but Galanthus peshmenii is looking quite lovely although I still struggle with the idea of snowdrops in October.
Sternbergia greuteriana is a new plant to me. I acquired the bulbs a year ago but this is the first time they have flowered. Whether the conditions of the sand bed have helped or whether they just needed a little more time I don’t know. I quite like Sternbergia, some people call them yellow crocus but they are actually in the Amaryllidaceae family.
The second Oxalis is flowering. This is my favourite Oxalis and was the reason I started to acquire them. I adore the sugar-cane markings on the flowers. Hopefully the plants will bulk up and produce more foliage and a more busy plant with lots of flower.
As you can see there are more bulbs to follow although I think it will be some time before the narcissus are in flower. As the plants in these pots finish I will move them down below the bench to rest and replace them with the next pots with emerging shoots. It isn’t ideal but its the best I can do with the space I have.
I am currently storing some of the tender perennials on the floor space in the greenhouse. I haven’t thought very far ahead but I think I will be moving them into the garage soon. I am thrilled with the brugmansia as it is flowering for the second time and far better than its first flowering. I need to research how to overwinter it – should I bring it in to the house or do I cut it back and store it in the garage? I also need to research the bergenias.
Finally the other side of the greenhouse which is full of the tender perennials. Again I need to work out which ones will be OK in the cold greenhouse and which need a little more warmth from the garage. I am also toying with the idea of putting some bubblewrap around the lower part of the staging to create a sort of cocoon in which I can store some of the tender plants.
Primrose Jack in Green
Autumn has decidedly arrived although not the crisp dry Autumn that I prefer, instead it has been a bit grey and quite damp leading to soggy piles of leaves to collect; many have already been collected.
I have noticed that despite the lower light levels there is still interest in the garden mainly from the various asters. I think the smaller flowers add some real texture although I want to add some of the larger and brighter flowered asters next year and maybe some more rudbeckias to lift it all.
The first job was to weed the slope where the Hardy Exotic Border is and plant a mass of mixed daffodil bulbs. I am conscious that many of the plants will die back over the winter and I don’t really want a large bare area so I am hoping the daffodils will add some spring interest and colour until the main planting reappears. As my garden is quite small I need to make ever area work as hard as possible. I am trying to adopt the idea of layered or succession planting as advocated by Christopher Lloyd and also David Culp but of course although I understand the logic and purpose putting it into action isn’t as easy as it appears. I think you really need to understand the plants well and I haven’t quite got there. To help me out I am thrilled to have signed up for a study day at Great Dixter next June.
At the moment my starting point is to give each area a key season of interest. So the border above is a spring/winter border with the conifers and some bulbs which will appear in the new year. Today I have added a few cyclamen to give colour. There is a sprawling geranium in the front of the border which looks wrong and will be relocated elsewhere. I think a Japanese Painted Fern, yes I know another fern, would look good here and I fancy some white vinca or maybe periwinkle around the tree trunk.
A small achievement was finally sorting the area in front of the shed and fence. This has been a bit of a dumping ground since the shed went in over a year ago and has been irritating me for some months. My son plans to put a wood store here, the shed is his workshop, but he is so busy it is well down his list of priorities so I decided to take charge. It is amazing how much things are improved with a quick tidy up, a thick layer of gravel, a bit of fence paint and a few pots. The little auricula is far too small so I need to find one of my other pots to go here. I am thinking maybe a pot of bedding cyclamen.
Elsewhere I planted out the shrubs I bought at the Hergest Croft plant fair last weekend. The Hydrangea Merveilla Sanguine at the top of the slope to add to the foliage interest. I was told it needs good moist conditions and maybe at the top of a slope isn’t the best place but the soil is very heavy clay based here and doesn’t seem to dry out too fast so fingers crossed.
More bare soil but this is where the dead acer was and I am quite pleased with how it is coming along. I have added a Leptospernum myrtifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ and Berberis seiboldii which is quite electric at the moment and should be wonderful in a year or two. Also planted out today is an unnamed double hellebore and some bedding cyclamen. There are lots of spring perennials under the soil here at the front of the border so I have added the cyclamen for interest until I am reminded what is here and where it is!!
I thought I would show you a border I replanted just over a year ago – The Japanese Fern Border. A grand title for a small area alongside the patio which admittedly has other perennials other than ferns but they are all from Asia – apart from the stray Welsh Poppy in the back there. The ferns have really filled out and it looks lush and full and makes me smile.
Just for Yvonne I have include the Primrose Jack in Green at the top of the post which I look at when I sit on the bench.
I am always in two minds about anthologies. I often find them disappointing with the assorted short articles or stories. I think I really like to get into a subject more. So it was with two minds that I agreed to review the RHS’s new publication The Garden Anthology.
The book has been edited by Ursula Buchan and is a compilation of a wide range of articles that appeared in the magazine from 1866 to the present day. Buchan states that she has chosen articles which do not rely on photographs or other illustrations to make their point which immediately warmed me to the book. I remember when my parents bought me Lloyd’s’ The Well Tempered Gardener and they were bemused why I would want a gardening book without pictures but are pictures really necessary all the time? If you don’t know what the plant being referred to you can look it up. I much prefer reading good descriptive writing that evokes a sense of place or scene.
Unlike many recent anthologies this has not been arranged season by season or month by month which is also a relief. There is nothing more tedious than reading article after article about winter gardens. Of course I know you are meant to dip into a book but I prefer to read cover to cover. In this book the sections are organised according to subjects which are quite broad. They include some obvious ones on plants, people, garden design, practicalities but then there are some more unusual sections such as ‘The International Dimension’ and ‘Inside the RHS’.
Given the broad range of writers who have contributed to the magazine over the years it isn’t surprising that their many voices can be found here from the lyrical writing of Geoffrey Dutton who in the 1990s wrote a series of articles about gardening in Perthshire to more scientific and up to date voice of James Wong. In total there are 80 different writers included and my only real complaint with the book is that there seems to be more articles from 2000 to the present day than the period before this which I found a little disappointing. Many of the earlier writers’ work are hard to access these days so I was hoping for more of this.
I was also interested in Buchan’s approach of trying to choose articles that reflected the changing interests in horticulture, whether it is a new scientific discovery or a move towards more environmental approaches, wildlife gardening etc. I wondered if this contributed towards the large volume of articles from the current century as it seems to me that changes to horticultural approaches have been significant since the turn of the century, far more than I remember previously. Maybe this shows a greater acceptance by the magazine’s readers to embrace new ideas rather than the traditional set in stone approach of this is how you do something that I remember from my early days of watching Gardeners World. Interestingly a subject that is often promoted, especially in social media, as a new idea – Are Gardens Art – was raised by Lucinda Lambton back in 1996. As they say there isn’t much that is really new!
This anthology is a good substantial read. It has a wide range of subject matter and a wealth of intelligent writing which I am sure would satisfy any gardener with an enquiring mind. It would also make a good Christmas present for the gardener in the family and I am sure a welcome change to the usual gardening gloves and secateurs.
Crocus speciosus oxonian
In need of some gentle stress relief and an escape from all the trials and tribulations that are plaguing my existence at the moment I set off cross country towards the welsh borders and the autumn plant fair at Hergest Croft.
I have visited a number of times, the last time in Spring, but I have been meaning to visit to see the autumn colour. The journey was a typical autumnal one with patchs of bright blue skies and sunshine and then periods of mist and dampness. Luckily being on the side of a hill the garden was clear of the mist and the sun soon burned off the residue. As well as Hergest Croft’s own plants for sale, including a wide selection of acers and interesting specimen tress, there were a number of small nurseries selling their wares. I was particularly looking for something to replace the dead acer in the woodland border and after much discussion and advice I came away with a berberis seiboldii and a leptospernum myrtifolium as well as a hydrangea, hellebore and some bedding cyclamen.
Having completed my purchases I went for a mooch around the grounds. First up is the rockery/ferny area near the house which I have visited in spring as the ferns have been unfurling so it was good to see it at this time of year. There are so many herbaceous plants with interesting autumn foliage which I think are overlooked in preference for trees and shrubs. I think the autumn tints above are from Darmera peltata.
I was particularly taken with this area since it is the effect I am trying to achieve, albeit on a smaller scale, on the slope in my garden. I also discovered the amazing purpley blue crocus in the top photo.
I was also interested in this herbaceous border which was still looking good despite the cooler temperatures and the battering we have taken in recent days from the rain. The planting and colours are reminiscent of what I am trying to achieve in the borders in my garden so again seeing them at this time of year has helped me form better plans and ideas in my head to take forward to next spring.
Hergest Croft is one of those gardens where I find myself looking up as much as around me. When I visited in the spring I was taken by the height of the rhododendrons and the way the light played through the spring leaves of the beech trees. I think in a week or so the autumn leaf colour will be even stronger but the mellow buttery yellows of the birches against the pines/larches (?) was quite lovely.
It is at this time of year, and maybe spring, that we really appreciate the beauty of trees especially when you see the white bark of the birch in stark contrast to its surroundings. I saw children intrigued by the peelings of the paperbark maples as well as, strangely, quite a few people head first in the trees looking for labels! There is a wonderful arboretum at Hergest Croft which is wasted on me due to my ignorance about trees but I did recognise the collection of sorbus trees. I think sorbus is one of my favourite trees and I have a few in the garden but I am now wondering if I can shoe horn in another one. I was particularly taken with the pale orange berries of the Sorbus ‘Copper Kettle’ but also the shape of the tree.
Sorbus ‘Copper Kettle’
Before leaving and wending my way home I had a nose around the conservatory which was looking the best I have seen it. I suspect this is because they have brought all the tender plants in pots in. I was particularly impressed with the Brugmansias although I am now worried mine might get this big and my greenhouse is so much smaller.