My garden this weekend – 3rd November 2013

Oxalis 'Artic Star' - Autumn foliage
Oxalis ‘Artic Star’ – Autumn foliage

I have to admit that some of my gardening this weekend was down to sheer contrariness.  The weather on Saturday was showery and blustery and not particularly warm and needless to say as soon as I had finished my chores the sun went in.  However, being of a contrary nature I was not to be deterred, especially, as I am away next weekend and I really needed to get the last of the bulbs in the borders.

The focus of the hour  I stole on Saturday was more work on the lower back slope.  It is sheltered here so I wasn’t blown over by the gusts of wind which were getting stronger and stronger.   More of the old crocosmia were dug up and the ferns re-distributed.  I also added a swath of Corydalia solida.  I haven’t grown this before I have seen it in many woodland gardens; I am hoping that the foliage will provide a nice contrast to the upright leaves of the various bulbs in this bit of border.

Needless to say I ended up retreated to the garage and my new potting area.  Some species tulips and Iris ‘Cantab’ were planted up with the intention of possibly showing them in the new year.

Wonderful glossy foliage of Castor OIl plant
Wonderful glossy foliage of Castor OIl plant

The gusts yesterday afternoon were a precursor to much stronger winds overnight.  I think we caught the tail end of the storm which affected Wales and this morning the litter of twigs and small branches from the willow tree spoke of the strength of the wind.  I have to admit though that there seems to be a never ending amount of twigs coming off the willow all year round and I find myself often wondering how there is so much left on the tree given the amount I clear up.

Delphinium requienii
Delphinium requienii

I woke to sunshine so I was up and out in the garden by 9:30am.  First up was to get the rest of the bulbs in the front garden.  I have extended the planting of Tulipa Ballerina and Allium sphaerocephlan across the end of the lawn but I have got as far as carrying it up the other side of the lawn in front of the beech hedge – mainly because the soil gets very wet and heavy here and I’m not convinced the tulips and alliums will do well in this environment.

Bulb planting nearly complete I moved to the back garden and cleared the Big Border of all the tender perennials and the leaves that have fallen to date.  The dahlias were all lifted and have been set upside down in trays in the garage so they dry out a little before I store them for the winter.  I don’t leave them in the ground in this garden as it is very clay based and gets sodden in the winter in places which really isn’t the right environment for the dahlia tubers to overwinter in.  I also lifted the Salvia involucrata boutin and managed to squeeze it into the largest pot I have before store it in the garage for the winter.  I have been told it is borderline hardy but I just know if I leave it out, even with a protective mulch, it will be a very cold winter and I will lose the plant.

Fallen leaves for Cathy
Fallen leaves for Cathy

 

The border looks incredibly bare now but this is fine as I really need to add some organic matter to it since it was created in a rush back in April and planted up quickly to clear the area for the new workshop.  I want to think about this border over the winter and decide how it should be developed.  I have noticed this summer that there is a distinct line going diagonally across the back garden which separates the sunny and shady areas and the Big Border is cut in half.  So I need to come up with a planting scheme that combines both sun lover and shade lovers but without a clear demarkation.  In the meantime I have added some Ornithogalum umbellatum in a drift near the Stipa gigantea which hopefully will look good.

Winter jasmine
Winter jasmine

My son came and helped me move the large pots of Agapanthus and Echium under cover and we cleared the first crop of fallen leaves from the patio.  It looks so bare and tidy now which made me feel a little sad but then I spotted that the winter jasmine along the patio wall had started to flower.  Not only had the flowers started to appear but there were far more buds than I have ever seen on it before and I am sure that this is partly due to me removing some of the competition from the wall earlier this year and giving it a bit of space.

I have more tidying to do particularly in the areas where there are lots of spring bulbs and also some tulips to plant up in pots but generally if the weather was to change suddenly it  wouldn’t mean that essential jobs hadn’t been done which is a good feeling.  Everything I do now before winter really gets a grip on the garden will be a bonus.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds like you are in really good shape Helen – or rather your garden is! A drift of Ornithogalum umbellatum sounds really pretty. I keep holding off planting the tulips because of the “plant after frost to avoid tulip fire” advice but I think I am going to buckle as soon as the weather allows because then the forget-me-not seedlings will have a better chance of establishing when I move them. Lovely to see winter jasmine flowering already – enjoy planning your Big Border!

    1. Yvonne Ryan says:

      I have just pulled out for-get-me-nots – they were random ones in pots that I brought from my cottage garden. I threw them under hebes where they can establish a bit of colour. I love they way they always pop up and are a haze of pale blue. I think I might have one of the dark large one in a random pot also. they are not so easy to establish. Helen you did heaps of work over the weekend! My back doesn’t stand that much. A couple of hours of chucking mulch is more than enough! I was ‘certified’ by my Dr the other day to say I was safe to drive for my 75th birthday! just as well as had driven 500klms last weekend on the motorways, and country roads, very busy!

  2. Cathy says:

    Thanks for the leafy evidence, Helen!! I am not surprised after the gusts we had yesterday, although all is calm again today. I am impressed with your endeavours this weekend (and empathise with your contrariness in sticking it out on Saturday despite the weather as this is exactly what I did on Friday in the rain), especially lifting and moving those dahlias and tender perennials, something I haven’t yet decided if I want to do. Like you, I found I was reluctant to start tidying but once I did I found it was satisfying to get stuck in and looked forward to some (relative) neatness again. Well done for finishing your bulb planting and good luck with plans for the big border. Hope you are going somewhere nice next weekend 😉

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy

      ha ha I wondered if you would spot your special mention. I am going to an alpine garden society conference tomorrow, but apprehensive as not been to one before but should be good

  3. Jason says:

    I also was out today doing some clean up. Mostly it was just taking up stakes and pulling out the tomato vines. Most stuff I leave in the ground until spring.

  4. Hello Helen,
    I have been reading your gardening adventures for a little while now and decided it was time to tell you how much I am enjoying your blog. At the moment my gardening has been placed on hold due to illness but I am hoping to be back in the garden next year with luck. I really miss it and of course this year some plants did better than they ever did before. Maybe from lack of supervision?? At least my daughter and my sister have been able to keep the grass in check but at the moment the back garden has become a jungle! Must admit I sort of like some of the garden that way as it gives me extra privacy. I have also noted some of the plants you have that I think may do well here so you have also given me much to think about this winter. My garden is in US in the mid-atlantic about 20 miles from the ocean. We are zone 7 but I have had some things like lemon verbena survive our unpredictable winters. Thanks to you I am enjoying my forced vacation in much better spirits.
    Kat

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Kat
      I am very glad you enjoy reading my blog and that it has lifted your spirits while you have been laid up. Just think of all the plans you will have formed by the time you are ready to tackle your jungle! You will have to start a blog to tell us about them!

  5. Anna says:

    Sounds as if you had a busy and productive weekend’s gardening activities Helen. I’ve been waiting for the first frost to bring the dahlias in pots into the greenhouse for the winter. That first frost arrived last night so will be out there to sort them out as soon as it warms up a bit. How cheering to see some spirit lifting colour from the winter jasmine.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      We havent had any frost yet but I decided they needed to be lifted as I have limited time available. I wonder about the frost thing I think it is just a case that we can leave them until they are frosted if we want rather than them needing to be frosted as some people currently seen to be implying.
      The jasmine did seem early

  6. The garden plans can begin again. My bulb order has been made, there are hardy annuals to sow for overwintering and borders to redesign. I’m learning to embrace the shrub. Herbaceous perennials are my ‘thing’ but I am learning that a bit more structure and interest is needed. A sarcococca has been planted in the front garden for a shot of winter scent. It’s strategic planting position will also, hopefully, stop a part of the garden being used by visitors as a short cut to the front door and as a litter tray by my neighbour’s cat. Shrubs will feature more prominently in my back garden too by the end of autumn.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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