End of Month View – October 2014

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October seems to have been a wet and windy month but it has certainly been a busy month for me resulting in not much gardening time and of course with the evenings drawing in things aren’t going to improve until the Spring.

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I’m amazed at how much the succulents have filled out in the trough in the front garden.  I was worried when I planted it back in the spring that I hadn’t included enough plants but now I am far more happy.

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Here it is in situ and I am again pleased with how well the succulents planted in the border have done.  I do need to lift the Aeonium but I am going to risk the other succulents.

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The staging area is entering its winter period and is currently home to various pot of mixed alpines.  There are also a number of tender perennials in pots that are being collected here ready to overwinter storage. This area continues to work well and keeps my rapidly growing and eclectic collection of plants in some order.

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The patio border is now loosing its summer clothing but I know that there are lots of bulbs waiting to appear come the spring and this is one of the first areas I am going to tidy this weekend.  It is definitely more balanced since I moved the edgeworthia to the left which just shows you shouldn’t shoe horn plants into spaces rather than make an appropriate space for them.

2014_10300021The cottage border hasn’t really changed.  There are still some roses appearing but the plants are definitely shutting down for the winter now so I will give it  bit of a weed and tidy and wait for the bulbs to appear.  I am pleased with how this area has developed over the last couple of years.  When I dug up the back lawn two years ago I was completely intimidated by the space and procrastinated for ages trying to work out where and if to put in paths.  In the end the path showed itself as it was the logical route to the plants.  It was meant to be a narrow access path not a feature but its now my favourite route around the garden and also the cat’s favourite sun-bathing location.

I need to do some tweaking to the Big Border on the right of the path.  Its just a case of re-positioning some of the plants so the lower ones hide the legs of the taller ones.  I find that planting a slope, as this part of the border is, quite challenging as you not only have to take into account the view from the front of the border but also how the plants relate to each other as they go up the slope and in this case the border is also viewed as much from the back so in fact it is a sloping island bed – what a ridiculous idea!  I am still pondering moving the Cotinus at the end of the border.  Its rather large and whilst I know I can prune it I think the rest of the border will work better without it so I am considering a new location for the shrub.

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The far end of the Big Border is quite shady and home to several spring flowering woodland plants and a small Magnolia but I need to add some interest for other times of the year – maybe improve the foliage textures and find something to go in the bare patch in front of the magnolia.

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Finally my favourite part of the garden – the new seating area.  Its looking a little messy as I have added some fine gravel from the greenhouse which might not have been the best idea but with use the small grit will work its way down between the larger stones and hopefully it will look OK.  The tin bath pond is being emptied over the winter and I will start again in the spring once I have decided what plants to use in it.  It has had Zantedeschia in it but they won’t overwinter in the pond so I will probably store them overwinter under cover.

I think there is still a lot of interest in the garden but mainly from foliage which is rapidly becoming more important to me than the flowers. I do think that there needs to be some stronger structures included to give it winter interest so I will have a think about this over the coming months and see what ideas I can come up with.

If you would like to join in with the End of Month View meme you are very welcome.  There are no real rules, you can use it as you want. You can feature one area through the year or you can do a tour, whatever.  I do find it is very helpful in making you look critically at your garden but also it helps you to see how things have changed and improved over time.  All I ask is that you put a link to this post in your post and add a link to your post in the comments box.

 

 

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 26th October 2014

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A nice horticultural weekend has been had with yesterday spent at my HPS group meeting.  As ever an excellent day was had with an interesting group discussion in the  morning about what is looking good in gardens mainly chrysanthemums. A bit of plant buying over lunch including a rather nice Nerine ‘Kinn McIntosh’ and a Polyxena corimrosa to add to the bulb collection. I also was given a rather large Viburnum which has been planted today; I am always amazed at how generous gardeners are not just with plants but with knowledge as well.

Polyxena corimrosa

Polyxena corimrosa

The afternoon talk was on mistletoe which I have to admit I thought might be a little dull but as with the fungi talk last year it was completely fascinating.  Our speaker, Jonathan Briggs, dispelled many myths about mistletoe, explained amongst other things how they were our only native white berry evergreen semi-parasitic plant, and how the real centre for mistletoe in this country is the Severn Valley including Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  Hardly surprising given that there seems to be mistletoe everywhere around here but I don’t think I had really noticed how little there was elsewhere.

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Despite the weather temperatures being warmer than normal for this time of year we have had really stormy skies and strong winds so some of the trees around the boundary are nearly bare of leaves and I need to start the big leaf collection.  I am particularly keen on the autumn colour of the Prunus kojo-n0-mai which simply glows at the moment.  Having planted the viburnum my focus today was planting the latest bulb purchases and making a decision about what should and shouldn’t be overwintered in the greenhouse.  I have been procrastinating and dithering because I didn’t really know what winter conditions I should give my bulbs or some of the borderline hardy plants.  Thanks to

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the contributors on the Alpine Garden Society forum I have received advice and I plan to leave the greenhouse unheated and open for the winter unless the temperatures really drop in which case I can shut the door and if really bad turn the heater on.  Research has made me decide to overwinter the tenders in the garage.  The majority will be allowed to dry out but there are some that need a bit of moisture and I will put these to stand in saucers so I don’t flood the garage.

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Having finally decided to dedicate the greenhouse to the bulbs I have relocated all the succulents and the bulbs have now taken over the whole space.  There are also some primula marginata which I have a love/hate relationship with as I haven’t managed to get them to flower this year and some crusted saxifragas which are the nearest to alpine dome plants I plan to get.

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I have even had a go at some cuttings which are in the propagator on the shelf.  I know how to take cuttings but I never have much luck.  Most of them, the fuschia and pomegranate, are from display stems brought to the club meeting yesterday but I have also had a go at some cuttings from Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’.  I expect I am a bit late doing these but who knows they may take which would be fab.  Actually I did manage to get the Malmaison carnation cutting I got from the club last year to take so who knows my luck might be changing. Moving all the pots around was quite time-consuming but at least its done now.  I have a few succulents I want to dig up from the garden and overwinter under cover but the rest will be left in situ and get a thick mulch of used compost  topped off with straw.

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I have a couple of days off at the end of the week as hopefully, weather permitting, the tree surgeons are coming to tackle the weeping willow which swamps the top of the garden.  This time next week, all things being equal, this view will be very different which I find exciting but also a little scary.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 5/10/14

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Autumn has arrived and a sense of panic marred my gardening today.  With evening gardening over due to the shortening days and a wet day yesterday, I felt an unexpected sense of urgency in the garden today.  To such an extent that I found myself not enjoying myself at all but this may be tangled up with the pervasive feeling of unhappiness I am experiencing currently – which I know is hardly surprising and I need to be kind to myself.

2014_10050014With cooler temperatures forecast the tender plants were the priority.  I am in a bit of a quandary at the moment since I am using the greenhouse for my alpine bulbs which presumably means that this space won’t be very helpful for overwintering the tender perennials.  I intend to keep the greenhouse just frost-free, or even cold, and the door will be open on warmer and sunnier days and I suspect this won’t be good for the succulents and pelargoniums.  There is part of me which thinks “give it a go and see what happens”.  I’m not emotionally attached to any of the plants so if I lose them I won’t be heartbroken but then my sensible and risk averse head kicks in and I wonder how to accommodate the diverse range of plants I have accumulated in recent years.  The solution, at the moment, is that I have tided up my work space in the garage and all the pelargoniums are now stored in there by the window where they will get lots of light.  The tender succulents are currently in the greenhouse whilst I come up with a better solution.  I only ever keep the greenhouse frost-free  and they have always been fine so I wonder if I corral them in one area and give them some extra

Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’

Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’

protection with fleece whether that will be sufficient.  The rest of the borderline plants in pots have been collected on to the patio so they can be quickly put under cover if a frost is forecast.  There are still some planted out but again I am thinking of risking them to see what happens.  Bob Brown told me the other week that he thought if you planted them deep enough and mulched plants you didn’t expect to survive do. I have also heard John Massey say the same so I might give it a go.

Sorbus vilmorinii

Sorbus vilmorinii

As I collected the pots up I was deeply conscious of the fallen leaves which weren’t present last week and how much I still wanted to achieve in the garden to prepare it for Spring and finish off projects before Winter commences. Then in the next breath I experience a strong feeling of just needing to give up and ignore it all.  There are areas of the garden where I still feel very strongly that the planting could be better.  I spent some time talking to my sons about my loss of confidence in my horticultural abilities, how the borders don’t replicate the images in my head and our conclusion was that writing about the garden on this blog may be partly to blame.  I have always shared my plans and thoughts about the borders and in the last few years on a weekly basis, much as I have done today.  I have always tried to treat the blog as a record for myself but at the moment, in my heightened emotional state, I am feeling quite vulnerable and sensitive so it may be that the garden won’t appear here for a while until I am feeling a bit more positive and confident.

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’

 

 

Potted Delights – Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’

Oxalis perdicaria 'Citrino'

Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’

I have a bit of a thing about bulbs. I just love them.  I love the fact that you plant a small dry bulb and within 6 months you can have a stunningly beautiful plant. I love the anticipation of waiting for the first shoot to push through the soil. I love the ephemeral nature of the flowers and I love the variety from the tiny crocus and snowdrops to the large giant lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum).  So it’s hardly surprising that due to my recent dabbling in the vast and intriguing world of alpines that I have been expanding my bulb collection.  Added to this I have this year joined the Pacific Bulb Society so, as a friend said to me yesterday, all hope is lost.

For those who haven’t come across the PBS they generally produce a list of available seeds and bulbs one a month which you can apply to so recently small packages have been plopping through the letter box from California containing all sorts of delights.  These have been duly potted up in terracotta pots and added to the bulb collection in the greenhouse. Coming home from a weekend away the other day I was beside myself to discover Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ in flower.  Only a few leaves were present before I went away so to discover these dainty pale yellow flowers was a delight.  Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ is a bit of a rogue Oxalis.  It sends up leaves in spring but no flowers, then it dies back, only to reappear at this time of year with flowers.  The flowers only open when the light is good and apparently have a honey scent but I am yet to detect this.  I am becoming intrigued by Oxalis having been bewitched by Oxalis veriscolor when I visited the Alpine House at RHS Wisley back in February.

Oxalis veriscolor - RHS Wisley

Oxalis veriscolor – RHS Wisley

If you look carefully you can see that the flowers have a red and white twist of colouring.  When the flower bud is tight shut it is red and the petals are wrapped a bit like an umbrella would be. Then the flower opens out and it is white inside.  The Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ does the same except the flower is the same colour inside and out but when you look very closely at the buds you can see the same twisting of the petals. I think they are beautiful and intriguing

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So now you know why I get excited about bulbs and yes my friend is right – there is no hope for me

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