Six on Saturday: Fruitful

After flowering non-stop since June, and still sporting an odd bloom, climbing rose ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’ is now covered in hips, creating a striking silhouette even against today’s grey sky. Such an undemanding rose, it is never deadheaded and will be severely pruned sometime early next year ready for another easygoing year.

Nearby, dog rose Rosa canina in the ‘mid-hedge’ that dissects the woodland edge border also sports hips, brighter and shinier but possibly in a lesser quantity. Planted when this border was first created back in 2003 or thereabouts, the hedge (dog rose, hawthorn, guelder rose and hazel) is kept strictly under control and cut back to a little over average adult height every year, so these hips will soon be gone.

In the woodland edge border itself are the brilliant orange-red berries of the stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, the seedpods having split open to reveal their striking innards, drawing attention to a plant that is barely noticeable during the year, even when flowering.

Similarly bright are the berries of Arum italicum, now lying horizontal against the undergrowth, the stems having partially rotted and failing in their attempts to hold their heavy heads high. It is good to see their distinctive marbled leaves, regular components of posies and vases, emerging again.

Varying the colour palette of these autumnal fruits, crab apple Malus ‘Golden Hornet’, a small tree in the shrub border, sports yellow crabs, unloved by birds and destined to rot gradually on the tree till the gardener laboriously picks them off to stop them detracting from early spring blooms on nearby plants:

Its better-loved and better-behaved neighbour, Malus ‘Evereste’, instead covers herself in crabs the colour of peaches, a joy to view from the kitchen windows and, if you ask the blackbirds, a joy to eat. I could make jelly from them but don’t, preferring to enjoy them as they are over the winter or until the birds have eaten them all, whichever comes soonest.

That’s my fruity six for today, so I shall now pop across to visit the host of this Saturday meme, Jon the Propagator, to see what others have posted.

Posted in Autumn, fruit, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 9 Comments

What’s Blooming in October?

Well, the dahlias of course, and showing no signs of stopping either. The blooms may be smaller than they were earlier in the season, and there may have been a few casualties when stems have become top-heavy, but they have been a joy to behold since June and well worth every ramble to the bottom of the garden.

Given sufficient time in the next few days, most of the adjacent cutting beds will be culled, leaving just a half-bed of zinnias and some late-flowering antirrhinum, the latter certainly not the scarlet they were meant to have been:

There have been some drizzly days this week, but on days like these the greenhouses have also been a pleasure to visit, the working greenhouse for its healthy crop of cuttings and autumn sown seedlings, and the Coop for a number of plants happily flowering at the end of this autumnal month, including a number of pelargonium, some of my growing collection of streptocarpus, seasonal nerine and the statuesque still-standing head of Eucomis pole-evansii:

In pots and baskets elsewhere are the Busy Lizzies mentioned last week, fragrant nemesia, self-seeded nasturtium and the surprisingly still-colourful baskets of petunia at the front of the house:

Persicaria are always reliably flowering at this time of year and I have numerous varieties, some of which are shown below:

Other oddments include a range of sedums, Verbena bonariensis, Japanese anemone, Knautia macedonia and ornamental oregano:

Finally, it is a joy to still have roses, albeit not on every bush or climber and with some buds succumbing to the dampness of recent drizzly days and failing to open; those that have opened, however, are still blessed with fragrance, detectable when one’s nose is buried amongst the petals and also by foraging bees and other insects. Overnight temperatures are once more beginning to drop, however, and every week the garden is closer to its first frost of the season which will bring the inevitable demise of most of the roses and other bloomers, so I will continue to enjoy them while I can, whilst anticipating the pleasures of the winter bloomers which will replace them.

Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, herbaceous perennials, roses | 4 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Smugness

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In a Vase on Monday: Time to Push Up the Daisies?

Whilst clearing the contents of the cutting beds, I have sometimes hesitated, holding back the secateurs and erring on the side of caution and leaving some of the annuals a little longer; calendula have fallen into this category although really they are way, way past their best. Sadly, having saved seed last year, they have melded into a ubiquitous yellow from cross-pollination, although there has been an occasional hint of the distinguishing features of Indian Prince and Snow Princess. I shall be buying fresh seed for next year!

It made sense, I thought, to put them out of their misery and cut the remaining flowers for a Monday vase, allowing me then to cull the plants themselves. Once cut, there weren’t really enough for anything other than a small posy, so I added some yellow single unnamed dahlias and a few barely open buds of Dahlia ‘David Howard’, as well as some self-seeded nasturtium from one of the bold borders. On the cusp foliage of Heuchera ‘Kassandra’ provided autumnal support, along with a handful of fallen leaves from Amelanchier lamarkii.

One of the less obvious joys of the autumn season is the culling of spent plant material, piling it onto the compost heap and knowing in a year or so it will become a valuable resource for the garden, enough to mulch every border with some left to bag up and use to enrich conditions for specific plants. The 2021 heap is currently piled high above its retaining slats but will quickly drop back as the composting process begins, and a quick peek at the 2020 heap shows a gloriously dark and crumbly mix ready and waiting to be used.

The phrase ‘pushing up daisies’ refers to something being dead and buried; composting my daisies, however, and all the other spent plant material in the garden, instead brings new life and enrichment from what was once dead, just another of Mother Nature’s tricks.

Is there anything avoiding the compost heap in your garden that you could pop in a vase and share with us today? If so, please leave the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in Autumn, composting, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 21 Comments

Six on Saturday: Snip Snip Snip

There has been a lot of snipping going on around here recently, with cutting back, down or out beginning in the borders during the week but,  more excitingly, our neighbours on the hedge side had workers in the garden today working on the hedge. When the Golfer began cutting our side some weeks ago they told him of their plans, which involved reducing the height of the hedge by about 18″, sometime ‘in October’. In many places the hedge is just too wide for the Golfer to reduce it himself, so this was welcome news, especially as for many years there has been little in the way of maintenance on their side. October was fast disappearing so we were relieved when their workers turned up today.

It has made such a difference, especially to light levels in part of our kitchen, and our old friend the Rambling Rector (above) has had a bit of a makeover too as much of the deadwood reaching into their garden has been cut out. It also meant that the remaining stems that couldn’t be accessed and tied into the rose arbour when the rose was cut back after flowering could now be pulled down to join the rest, facilitated by the scaffolding, and further deadwood cut out.

While the Golfer communed with the Rector, I took Madame Alfred Carriere, clambering above the bus shelter, in hand. I usually cut her back quite severely at this time of year and she always seems to reward me with her blooms, but having watched Monty Don prune his on Gardeners’ World on television last night I decided I could be more severe still…and know who to blame if this proves to be a mistake, which is unlikely!

Even though there was some residual colour in the ‘rainbow border’, I wanted to ensure the bed was ready for the appearance of the snowdrops in the winter months, so removed the summer annuals earlier in the week, leaving the border looking very empty after more than five months of colour:

Removing what was essentially ground cover exposed not only residual snippets of holly from the Golfer’s recent hedge cutting, previously hidden amongst the foliage, but also some tatty hellebore leaves and a number of pots of snowdrops which have pushed themseves above soil level and will need to be repositioned. The hellebore foliage will be trimmed in a few weeks time, a task which I now see the benefit of, as it allows the blooms to be viewed clearly, as well as reducing disease.

Talking about snowdrops, whch we increasingly will do in the coming months, I checked on the progress of some of my early flowering ones and – whohoo! – we have visible (but, sadly, out of focus) progress, from Foursome (left) and Cambridge (right)…

Not all annuals are being taken out yet, and these Busy Lizzies will carry on being busy until temperatures really drop – what a star plant, and how I missed them when they were not available due to mildew intolerance! Meanwhile, another job for the Golfer is replacing the seat of the rustic bench behind them, which has outlived its useful life.

Finally, cut back earlier in the year when they were severely affected by aphids, these two pots of greenhouse fantasy chrysanthemums have just been moved back under cover again today, where they will no doubt be revisited by the aphids’ progeny, but at least they are not as tall and lanky as they were the previous year…and there are some blooms on the way to grace a few vases in due course:

That’s my snippy six for Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme – why don’t you visit hs blog too and see what other bloggers are featuring today?

Posted in annuals, container & basket plants, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, pruning, Six on Saturday | 30 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Strawberry Hill

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, roses, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 6 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Airy Fairy

No doubt I have used this title before in a previous post, but it suited the lighter and more delicate stems of the contents of this Monday’s vase, a contrast to the chunkier and more dominant dahlias and zinnias that have filled many late summer and early autumn vases.

It was the blooms of Pelargonium ‘Copthorne’ in the Coop that took me in this particular direction but, having picked a range of other delicate stems the pelargonium suddenly seemed indelicate in comparison, and a single stem was retained only because it reflected the colours of Argyranthemum ‘Grandaisy Pink’, a pot of which was reblooming after being cut back a few weeks ago. Joining these two are Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and ‘Red Dragon’, larkspur Consolida ‘Dark Blue’, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’, a single bud of Rosa ‘Susan Williams-Ellis, bunnytails grass Lagurus ovatus and some summer flowering jasmine that never flowers.

Plonked into a cheap glass vase, and accompanied by my Traditional Wood Wooden Classic Push Up Press Puppet Toy’, another airy fairy, the vase has more than just a suggestion of summer to it. Of its contents, only the larkspur has come from the cutting beds, the occupants of which are mostly well past their best, and I am working up to cutting everything down, instantly putting an end to some of summer’s memories. The garden, however, will continue producing blooms and foliage whatever the season, providing material for vases throughout the year.

Has your garden provided material for a vase today? If so and if you would like to share it with us, please leave links to and from this post in the usual way.

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, greenhouse, herbaceous perennials, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 33 Comments

Six on Saturday: Time to Put Off Bulb Planting

My bulb order from Peter Nyssen arrived yesterday and, like many fellow bloggers, I can now begin to put off planting them…does anybody enjoy this particular gardening task, I wonder? Actually, I don’t mind the indoor planting, and there are several packs of bulbs destined for the Coop; even planting in outdoor tubs is OK, but it’s the ferreting about trying to plant bulbs amongst permanent plants in the border I don’t enjoy. By the way, if you think there is an excessive quantity of bulbs in the order, they aren’t all for me and there are five separate heaps in the above picture – although admittedly the biggest pile is mine!

Recent garden tasks have mostly involved deadheading and general border maintenance, with several new plants planted up and some older ones rearranged, and there is plenty more of this to be done as an alternative to bulb planting. Time and weather also permitted a small project this week, creating the raised planting area for a new rose (Gabriel Oak) that I referred to last Saturday, with just enough bricks and mortar mix found to complete the task. As is to be expected, the Golfer did a brilliant job of cutting and relaying the block paviers to fit around it.

In the course of border maintenance I wanted to move established Persicaria ‘High Society’ further back in its border, and eventually discovered why it was so difficult to lift – the root shown in the picture below was at least 18″ long and perhaps 2″ in diameter, and having been curved into a U shape, this was just part of it!

Having bought seeds of Cardiospermum halicacabum (‘Love in a Puff’) on impulse earlier this year, I find them distinctly underwhelming, growing no more than 24″ in height and so far only producing a single puffy seedpod, although it does contain two seeds rather than the usual single one. When ripe, the seeds are black and marked with a white heart, so I was too optimistic in peeling open this one.

Having frequently said I never have success with asters, I then found this little example minding its own business in one of the borders. It may only be a few inches high, and these two blooms may be the only flowers it has, but it’s still an aster (Aster ‘Azurit’ if you are interested)!

It has made good sense to plant as many roses as possible where they can be seen when glancing out of the kitchen windows; not only have I been able to enjoy the late flushes of Lady Emma Hamilton and the pink spots Rural England in the apple trees, but distinctive Munstead Wood continues to produce its near-perfect blooms for our delectation (the extra tall stem propped up by a stake also supporting crab apple ‘Golden Hornet’). Why not visit Six on Saturday’s host Jon the Propagator and see if he or other bloggers are also still enjoying some of their roses too?

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, projects, roses, Six on Saturday | 11 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Lodgers

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In a Vase on Monday: Single But Happy

Many blooms in the garden are increasingly on borrowed time, partly in the knowledge that we could have frosts at any time (although this didn’t happen until early in November in the last two years) and partly because annuals have been doing their thing since June and have every right to feel exhausted.

Accordingly, I didn’t look any further than the cutting beds for today’s vase, choosing single dahlias ‘Twynings After Eight’ and ‘Happy Single Juliet’, aided and abetted by clary sage Salvia viridis in ‘white’ and ‘Pink Sundae’ versions, with a flowering stem of grass Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. The increasingly tatty clary was cut back some weeks ago and has now rewarded me with fresh stems, a big asset to many vases and posies. Today’s vase is a mottled pink Caithness Glass example, a chip in the rim invisible to the casual observer.

The search for a suitable prop began and was proving fruitless until I chanced upon this little drawing by four year old The Tinker, probably done a few months ago on one of my Grannie Thursdays. The subject is certainly happy, no doubt due to a particularly effective brand of mascara…

We have learned over the years of IAVOM that we don’t need live blooms for our Monday vases and that there is a range of material we can pop into them whatever the season: what could be in yours today? Please share your vase or jamjar with the rest of us if you like, by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 30 Comments