End of Month View – November 2018

I seem to have started each EOMV post this year with commenting on how little gardening I have done for many reasons. I have decided to stop apologising, it is what it is and actually on reflection the garden doesn’t look too bad for the end of November.

I’m not a gardener who feels a need to put the garden to sleep for the winter.  I’ve never really understood that approach unless of course you live somewhere where your garden is covered in snow for months on end.  For me, having something that needs doing in the garden throughout the year is a good motivation to get outside even on the coldest day even if its only for a short period of time.

The front garden, which I have forgotten to photograph this month, has had most of the attention over the last few months.  Due to the new driveway I have had to replant the narrow borders outside the front door partly with plants I had lifted to protect them from the contractors but also to add two new lavenders either side of the door.  It all looks so much smarter now.   I have also tidied up the smaller of the big borders and filled it with a mix of tulips so I’m hoping there will be lots of colour in late spring.

Now I need to start thinking about tidying up bit by bit in the back garden.  There has been some pruning and leaf collecting happening but there is still lots to do if I get time.  I don’t get stressed about having it all perfect now as no one tidies these things up in nature and it all works just fine.  I do want to move the various pots of seedlings dotted around the garden to nearer the house to protect them and I seriously need to use the four bags of bark chip that have been sitting in the garden for two months now – which is a little embarrassing.

I also would like to finally finish removing the very top path that I started back in the spring and I plan to use some of the large pile of Malvern stone we have to build a low edging/retaining wall along the edge of the border in the above photo.  The border slopes quite a lot and is always dry.  I have quite a few alpines in pots around the place so I plan to use the stone to level off the border and provide lots of gravel drainage for the plants.  I probably haven’t explained that well but its very clear in my head what I want to do here which is progress as I have been thinking about it for years.

As you can see the garden gets shabbier as you get further from the house which probably reflects that with limited time over the past months I have focussed on those areas I can see better from the house but I am now determined to change this and sort it out once and for all so I don’t feel I have to apologise all the time.

So there’s my garden, warts and all, at the end of a soggy November.  Its great when people join in as its one of the few times that bloggers actually show their gardens rather than nice plants and I find that more interesting.  If you would like to join in then all I ask is that you link to this post and leave a comment with a link to your post in the comments box below.

Boundaries

It’s all been about the boundaries the last couple of weeks with a new fence along one boundary and tree surgeons sorting out the neglected beech hedge.

I find myself wondering if this is me staking my territory again now that we aren’t moving, bit like a cat. But if I’m honest the fence was on the to do list before we put the house on the market and in fact the old fence was only staying up right as it was tied to the tree.

Who knew it was possible to get so excited by a fence.  I love this fence. It is so solid and robust and I love the colour. It blends in the with garden and isn’t that horrid garish orangey brown you used to get.  If you look in the top photo you can just about see how the angle of the fence as it goes up the garden.  To accommodate the fall of the ground the fence has been made bespoke and has such a better quality to it.  The only mild irritation is the black electric housing which takes the electricity to the workshop.  We have agreed that we will reattach it so it isn’t so obvious.

I’ve taken the opportunity to re-plant the area in the photo above.  This is the first part of the grand plan – well it’s not that grand a plan, just various ideas I have had.  This bit of border has been difficult ever since we moved here.  I have tried various things and the badger has had a good go too. I’ve improved the soil and have moved an Abelia from elsewhere as its such a robust shrub I think it will do well and hopefully thwart the badger.  Like Jekyll I really rate Bergenias as a good foliage and ground cover plants so I have added two to fill this space with wonderful foliage to give interest all year round.  I’ve also added some crocus to the snowdrops that are already in this space somewhere.

In the front garden the tree surgeons have reduced the beech hedge by around two foot in height and trimmed back the sides to improve the whole look of the hedge and make my neighbour’s life easier when they get out of their car. I have been ignoring the hedge and had let it get away from me but now that it has been reduced I think it smartens up the front garden and it should improve the light to that side of the space.

So those are the boundaries sorted – now I have the bit in the middle to do.

 

Foliage Follow Up

Well lookee here two posts in three days! Anyway, I have been reading gardening posts this last few days especially those from across the pond because I am planning to go to the Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin in May and I want to reconnect with the blogs that inspired me some 9 years ago to start blogging.

One of the first blogs I started reading was Pam’s Digging.  Pam is based in Austin and her blog is very much about foliage plants especially those that thrive in the heat of Austin – lots of Agaves. I was fascinated by the different look of Pam’s garden and continue to find the difference fascinating. Anyway, Pam hosts a Foliage themed monthly blog on the 16th of each month, following on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and having spent an hour or two starting to re-engage with the garden I thought I would do a foliage post, albeit 3 days late.

This combination is one of my favourites in the garden.  The Melianthus major IS my favourite foliage plant and I have three dotted around the garden, grown from seed some 5-6 years ago.  I especially love the leaves at this time of year when they sparkle with rain drops or morning frost. The abutilon was acquired three years ago and is thriving so much so that my son can’t see out of his workshop window sometimes.  In the top photo you can see Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ which I have also had for a few years and has to be heavily pruned from time to time.

To the left of the Euphorbia is Fatsia japonica ‘Spiders Web’, planted at the same time as the Euphorbia. This photo is an indicator of the state of the garden with one plant becoming swamped by another. It’s that fine line between the borders looking full and generous and looking neglected and overgrown.  I need to do some careful editing and some rejigging to give the plants more space but I have plans to gain a little more space by losing the top path which goes nowhere!

I have decided to embrace my love of foliage going forward which should have the benefit of keeping the garden looking interesting through most of the year.

 

 

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

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Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion) was our first Japanese garden of the tour and delivered on many of the archetypal Japanese garden elements. I’ve already shown you the Golden Pavilion, the garden of Yoshimitsu, and the Silver Pavilion is the garden of his grandson, Yoshimasa (1435-1490).

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Ginkaku-ji is home to some early examples of the dry landscape gardens of the late Muromachi era; these symbolise the ocean and the mountain. The ocean (above) is represented by ginshanada which means ‘silver sand open sea’ and you can see that the sand is raked to represent the waves.  I am curious as to how often the sand has to be raked.  Having peered at it and other sand gardens we saw it seems that the sand must be combined with something to keep it in shape, otherwise surely when it rains the patterns would be destroyed.  You can just about see how sharp the edges of the sand platform are and to my simple mind the sand must have been treated in some way to keep this looking good.

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Again, looking at the second element of the sand garden – the mountain, kogestsudai, a ‘platform facing the moon’, you can see how precise the shape is especially the flat top. The dry sand elements are based on zen principles and are intended for contemplation.

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I have to admit to being left rather cold by the sand gardens we saw, particularly as they are so antiseptic in appearance encouraging no wildlife whatsoever.

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I much preferred the garden away from the dry sand garden.  Near the Silver Pavilion you have a strolling garden which is a variation of the gardens, exemplified by the Golden Pavilion and would probably have originally been intended to be viewed from boats on the lake or from within the temples.  The current garden is much diminished in size from Yoshimasa’s time having only two buildings left of the original twelve.

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Having done some research since my return this waterfall could well be the ‘sengestsu-sen’ waterfall which means ‘spring in which the moon washes’ and apparently it is intended to capture the reflection of the moon ‘washing’ itself in the waters.  I much prefer the greenness of this part of the garden over the grey of the dry sand.

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From the lower part of the garden you traverse steep paths up the slopes to the upper garden from where you have wonderful views out over Kyoto. The upper garden is a moss garden with streams, islands and bridges. The path then brings you back past the Silver Pavilion.

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The Silver Pavilion is a bit of an enigma as there are no silver elements so no rationale for it name.  As Ginkaku-ji was not finished before Yoshimasa’s death in 1490 then I suppose its possible that there was an intention to finish the Pavilion along the lines of the Golden Pavilion, other theories are that the name was coined to distinguish it the two Pavilions or alternatively because the moon’s light was reflected off the building’s former dark timber.

The pavilion you see in these photos was reconstructed in 2010; we soon learnt during our travels that few of the buildings we saw were original.  Hardly surprising given the construction is based on timber, prone to fires and earthquake damage.

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For me the nicest part of the garden was up in the high garden amongst the trees, which were slowly changing colour for the Autumn, and looking out across Kyoto.

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Whilst I was bowled over by the splendour of the Golden Pavilion, I preferred the quieter gentleness of the Silver Pavilion garden.

 

End of Month View – November 2016

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I initially started this post by saying that as I have been away most of November very little has happened to Hugh’s Border, the focus of this year’s End of Month View.  How very presumptuous of me! Of course things have happened as Nature has no interest in whether or not I am present to witness the seasonal changes, nor does she really need me to assist her.

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If I am honest this time of year is very helpful in re-engaging my interest as I do enjoy tidying in the garden and I spent a happy couple of hours after taking these photos dead-heading, weeding and clearing up.  It is so satisfying to see a tidy border especially when you compare it to a shambolic one next door.

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Whilst Hugh’s Border has sat there minding its own business slowly fading into it’s winter slumbers there have been changes elsewhere.  I have a need to improve the structure of the garden which has been a little Heath Robinson in the past.  I doubt very much that any self-respecting landscaper would think the updates are much of an improvement on Heath Robinson but we take what we can get and the thick board edges to the Big Border are already changing the feel of the space. Previously the edging was made up of a collection of Malvern stone but it was uneven and not clearly defined.  The intention is to repeat the edging on the other side of the path, but using narrower wood so the edging sort of steps down.  I am toying with what to finish the path with. It was originally wood chip which has a habit of breaking down and needing regularly updating; the other problem with wood chip is that at this time of year you end of up with brown borders and a brown path and it is all a little uninspiring.  Therefore I am thinking of finishing the path with gravel – despite the cat’s protests – as this would give a visual break to the border and will also link to the gravel steps that the path runs off.  We are also replacing the risers on the gravel steps as some of them are showing their age.

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There has been another key change in the garden which will have a significant impact and that is the removal of the majority of the trees from my neighbour’s garden.  Whilst I was away the tree surgeons have removed the large sycamore tree which was planted on our boundary near the house, as well as some ash seedlings. They have also removed most of the trees along the far boundary so now on a good day we can see a wider view of the hills.  The light is positively flooding in, even on a grey autumnal day, so it will be fascinating to see how things hold up in the height of summer. Having spent some 10 years battling with shade it is quite strange to consider the option of more flowers and I have already found myself mentally changing the focus of what was the woodland border to something more floral.

However, whilst I am happy to embrace the challenge of new lighting to the garden I do miss the height that the trees bought.  Having received a photo from my son, during my travels, of the new garden view I spent some time day dreaming about potential trees that could be added to the garden.  I carried out a lot of research whilst on trains and buses, considered the various acers and sorbus in the Japanese gardens and then bought a Liquidamber on impulse from the local plant nursery this week. It’s already been planted with the expectation that the dark leaves will provide a good contrast to the green of the Euphorbia.

I could also bore you with my mini-rockery that I constructed last week but there really is nothing much to see at the moment but hopefully in the spring there will be something worth sharing.

Given the above I am hopefully that 2017 will bring more time and enthusiasm for the garden and that the quality of the posts on this blog will improve accordingly.

End of Month View – November 2015

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The garden at the end of November reflects my state of mind at the moment.  Slightly chaotic and dishevelled!  It has been ridiculously mild but over the last few days very wet and windy. So mild that I am struggling to re-engage with the fact that Christmas is but 4 weeks away. Thanks to work and the weather I probably spent less than two or three hours in the garden in recent weeks which probably hasn’t helped with inspiration for blog posts.  Hopefully, we will have some drier weekends soon so I can have a bit of a tidy-up.

I am pleased with how the planting along grass pass is progressing.  The addition of the grasses, Anemanthele lessoniana, have given a real sense of cohesion to the planting. The majority of the plants you can see, if not all of them, are evergreen so it should look like this all winter with emerging shoots for the spring bulbs adding additional interest over the next month.

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The planting along the bottom path is more deciduous so the agapanthus foliage will disappear soon and the roses will lose their leaves but again my predilection for foliage means that there is still interest, in this case from the Melianthus major.  I am hoping that with the mild Autumn we have had this plant and the one by the workshop will flower over the winter.  I could do with doing a little more dead-heading and tidying of decaying foliage but there isn’t that much to do at the moment.

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The bottom path curves round to the edge of the original woodland border.  You can see I have done a little tidying here mainly because I have planted a number of bulbs in here and needed to clear some space.  It is strange that when planting bulbs everywhere I go to plant them is already occupied with bulbs but come the spring there seems to be gaps all over the place.  I need to make some better records and notes this spring I think.

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The other end of the woodland border which was very bare last year but is now bulking up well.  You can see ‘mega bin’ in the background – my new vast compost bin which is a delight to use.  I need to tidy up in front of it and plant some shrubs or put in some sort of screening but I haven’t got around to thinking about that yet.  Again I have added lots of narcissus bulbs in here as well as some white variegated honesty so hopefully in the Spring it will look magical.

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I don’t think I have got the viewpoint for this photo quite the same as in previous month but it was quite wet and wild.  What is interesting, to me, in this photograph is how bare the boundary behind the workshop is.  My neighbour has replaced the fence at the end of his garden and to do so he has cut back a big bank of leylandii and other scrubby things so there is more light coming into my garden.

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And I shall end with the shot up the first set of steps to the workshop.  Again there are lots of evergreen foliage to give interest.  I have to say that I didn’t have a plan to include lots of evergreen plants it has just happened over the last year or so probably due to my fascination with interesting foliage.

So that’s my garden at the end of November.  To be honest looking at the photographs with a cold clinical eye it isn’t too bad given the time of year and a lot better than this time last year.

It has been a real delight that so many bloggers have chosen to join in with this meme over the years and I do hope you will continue to do so and find it useful.  If you would like to join in there are no rules just a request that you link to this post in yours and leave a link to your post in the comment box below.

Next month there will be an End of Year View showing how the borders have changed during the year.

Foliage Follow Up – November 2015

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Having managed to do the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post in a timely fashion this month I thought I would also join Pam over at Digging in the Foliage Follow Up.  I have read Pam’s blog ever since I started blogging some 8 years ago and met her when I went to the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco.  Having a growing preference for foliage it is a logical meme for me to join but I often find myself thinking oh I have shown this or that and so I don’t join in.  This month it dawned on me, I can be a little slow at times, that I should show some of the foliage on my decidious plants so this month I am focussing on the Birch jacquemontii which lives in my front garden.

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My sons bought the tree for me probably about 8 years ago and I love it.  Its one of the few plants that I will be upset to leave if I ever move house and I keep an eye out for seedlings which I might be able to pot up but they are few and far between.  I see this tree every morning from my bedroom window when I look out to see what the weather gods have decided to present us with and it struck me yesterday morning what a wonderful colour the leaves had turned.

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Due to our mild temperatures this Autumn the leaf colour seems to be changing quite slowly and amazingly the birch seem to be hanging on to the leaves despite the strong winds we have had.  The leaves look almost orange in the photographs but this morning in the dull light of an overcast day there was a distinct pale yellow glow to the tree.

So there’s my foliage follow up post this month, not a succulent or evergreen leaf to be seen, makes a change for me.  To see more fabulous foliage pop over to Pam’s Austin garden and check out the comments box for other links.

Garden Blogger Bloom Day – November 2015

Rose Ophelia
Rose Ophelia

Who would have thought that a November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day from the UK Midlands would feature a rose in full glory.  I keep posting ‘last roses’ this year and still they continue.

Fatsia 'Spidersweb'
Fatsia ‘Spidersweb’

At the same time you have the usual seasonal flowers starting to bloom such as this Fatsia ‘Spidersweb’ which is flowering for the first time and I really like the combination of the white flowers with the variegated leaves.  The plant, along with my other two Fatsias are already starting to hum with late pollinators.

Mahonia x media 'Charity'
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

Also popular with the pollinators is the Mahonia.  I am really pleased to discover the flowers on this plant as I ruthlessly chopped it down to the ground probably three years ago to try to encourage more than one stem.  It just sat there for months on end before this time last year there were signs of growth, and now we have the first flowers.

Salvia involucrata 'Boutin'
Salvia involucrata ‘Boutin’

Like the roses the Salvias are revelling in the mild Autumn temperatures.  The Salvia involucrata ‘Boutin’ is like a beacon at the top of the garden with its large bright pink flowers.  I love the exuberance of this plant, it is like a Salvia on steroids and have cuttings growing in the greenhouse just in case I lose the one above if we have a cold winter.

Chinese Foxglove
Chinese Foxglove

Another half-hardy resident is this Chinese Foxglove which I acquired back in the early summer and it has been flowering non-stop ever since.  It has lived in the border but as is slightly tender I have decided to pot it up for the winter and it will probably be stored in the greenhouse or cold frame.  I am just trying to work out how I would propagate it apart from seed.

Gladiolus murielae
Gladiolus murielae

Also waving at me from the top of the garden are the Gladiolus murielae (formerly Acidanthera).  These flowers are particularly satisfying as they are from pots of bulbs that I had discarded on the very top border as there were no signs of growth and then lo and behold in the summer shoots appeared and they have been flowering merrily away.  I am going to leave them in situ, maybe with a protective mulch, to see how they come through the winter.

Saxifrage fortunei 'Conway Snow'
Saxifrage fortunei ‘Conway Snow’

Finally I leave you with a more diminutive treat, Saxifraga fortunei ‘Conway Snow’, one of my alpines saxifragas.  I have a bit of a weakness for these but I am keeping it firmly in check as I really don’t need any more plant obsessions!

To see what is flowering in garden bloggers gardens all around the world pop over to Carol’s at May Dream Gardens and check out the links.