Despite the false alarm given by the weather app on my phone on the way back from Edinburgh on Monday (and quickly scotched by a text to Younger Daughter who still lives local to home) there has been no snow here yet, but temperatures stayed low both day and night at the beginning of the week with freezing fog for a couple of days.
Today still has a dampness about it but fog and mist cleared early and there has been a hint of brightness – but just a hint. The heavy frosts at the start of the week made their presence felt with barer trees and ankle height leaves in some places, most obvious under the magnolia. The few dahlias have blackened and have been lifted ready for winter storage, and the tithonia and zinnia have breathed their last. The cosmos shown in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday are still sorrowfully standing, but I am hoping to be able to collect some seeds from them.
We certainly seem to have reached a transition point in the year as autumn moves on towards winter. It now seems more appropriate to trim and tidy in earnest, and finish jobs which could have been done earlier, like baskets at the front of the house and the 5 pots outside the kitchen window, all delayed because their current contents still looked acceptable. In view of the drop in temperature they have been emptied and refilled today, Narcissi ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and purple ‘Cool Wave’ pansies at the front and Tulip ‘Dior’ with pink pansies at the back, and all looking very bare for the time being. Now there is only a pack of mixed tulips to find a home for and all the bulb planting is completed.
The seasons may be moving on as they do year in and year out, but we move on as well and while we were in Edinburgh I was fortunate to be able to revisit the flat I spent the first few years of my childhood in, moving on at the age of 10 all of (ahem) 51 years ago. I periodically think about the place and readily agreed to the suggestion of one of my siblings that we wrote to whoever now lived there and asked (albeit cheekily) if we might visit. I won’t go into the details but we could not have been any luckier and the existing owner could not have been any more inviting. She was happy for us to poke our noses into the rooms and cupboards, take photos, answer questions, etc – and I was able to access the ‘back green’ where my first gardening attempts took place – picking flowers from a neglected fuchsia and sucking their nectar, and planting a potato which was regularly dug up to see what it was doing. A small beginning indeed, but boy! have I moved on from there!
Knowing we were in Edinburgh till Monday I did wonder whether to prepare a vase before we went, like the pictures for the foliage post, but decided instead to go for the foraging option.
There is a small front garden at the property (same poroperty as last year) and on our first daylight foray I noticed the cotoneaster in various pretty shades so snipped a few discrete pieces and a single stem of a nearby acer. These were joined by a rain-washed heuchera leaf and some buttery yellow rose leaves, possibly R rugosa. Reflecting the season, leaves were dropping from the rugosa and the cotoneaster as I brought them inside and gently placed them in a new charity shop acquisition, another little Caithness Glass vase with perfect autumn coloured swirls. Unlike my kitchen at home there were plain and uncluttered surfaces and plenty of light so photography was a relative doddle this time round.
If you are encouraged to post a vase yourself, either with pickings from your own garden or foraging from round about, please do so and post links to and from this post. For some, the challenge to post every week will get harder as the year progresses, but hopefully it won’t stop the challenge being fun!
Mindful of it being Garden Bloggers Foliage Day today, a meme hosted by our friend Christina at My Hesperides Garden, I took photographs of our leafy garden before we came away – it may of course look completely different now, a few days later. So, a quick whizz through November’s foliage:
Above, remaining leaves on the trees are all beginning to turn now, including next door’s beech which has yet to reach its maximum grandness, whils below my token acer, A griseum has pretty leaves and bark but there is still not a lot of it:
There is also a Parrotia persica which suggests some colouration on the way, the fact that it is shoved up against the wall built round the composting area probably does not helping it reach its full potential:
Any overnight chill will now bring a fresh flush of leaves on the ground, like under the magnolia:
Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ shows various combinations of colour, depending on the age of the leaf:
Stalwart ivy and holly show how much of a contribution they make to the overall tapestry, and my! how beautiful ferns are:
Like many other gardens in the UK there are still signs of new growth on many perennials and with rumours of a mild and very wet weather who knows what the few months will bring to the garden. Today though, thanks to Christina for hosting this foliage meme which is a good way of keeping more than half an eye on foliage instead of just focussing on blooms.
Although Thomas Hood didn’t actually say ‘no colour’ in his oft-seasonally-quoted poem ‘November’ it may well be one of the things he had in mind when he talked about the lack of definition and cheerfulness in November. We can accept that Victorian Novembers were generally very different from those we experience now, but even so I suspect Thomas Hood can’t have been much of a gardener because, if he was, I am sure he would have been out looking for even a scrap of colour in his garden. Perhaps he was suffering from seasonal melancholia…
Originally thought I would utilise some of my roses today, but spotting the flowers on Fatsia japonica when photographing for GBBD these are what were uppermost in my mind this morning – along with the often forgotten Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’. My small clump is in the rockery and probably in view from the kitchen window but I suppose its ankle level position is not in its favour. Half of the clump is now green, and I am not sure whether to take this out to encourage an increase in blackness, or whether the leaves and green berries will turn black in time – proving I don’t look at it often enough to notice!
The fatsia flowers were the first thing I have picked that required a step ladder to reach, but meant I could choose the choicest blooms for the vase. The individual florets had stems that were too short to be used on their own, so I snipped a full head, and as it was likely to overbalance because of its weight I gently pressed it onto a small pin-holder before placing it in the vase. The ophiopogon berries were surprisingly heavy too, and it was also a shame that there were only these two stems to pick as I was hoping for more. Extra leaves were cut to compensate and added to the small vintage vase, unmarked but with a very tactile lead grey textured glaze on the outside and an equally attractive turquoise glaze on the interior. I took the photographs outside against a piece of black fabric and included a few black and white photographs as props, but the relatively successful shots of the vase were let down by the reflection on the photos….hey ho!
I love the understated elegance of this little vase, which is now holding its own next to a large vase with lilies I was given as a thank you for lunch and the vase of spent flowers from a fortnight ago. I also love this meme, and would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and support after the celebratory post last week and for all the vases and comments. There were a record 23 vases posted last week, so 23 names went into the Golfer’s newest hat and he drew out the name of Janet and her Plantaliscious blog. Janet will shortly be receiving a copy of a Blurb book featuring all of last year’s vases – well done, and thank you everybody!