End of Month View: Autumn Gets its Feet Under the Table

A few nights with temperatures dipping below 5°C seem to have triggered a colour change in many trees, and an unusually damp afternoon saw me rambling quickly through the garden, taking photos and recording a  video to mark the end of another month. Although we have had a number of showers since our drought-like conditions ended, this is the first persistently wet afternoon since, I suppose, sometime in spring, and coupled with the cool breeze and grey skies it might be classed as dismal. However, it may have inconvenienced my EMOV photography and left me with wet legs and damp cuffs, but it is nevertheless part of life’s rich tapestry and personally I wouldn’t call it dismal or dreich; I suspect, however, that this is a turning point and autumn is well and truly with us, the forerunner of a gradual winding down of the garden over winter.

Unlike me, you can ramble round the garden in the warm and dry, starting with the view from the back of the house (above), and the streamside and shrub border (below), the latter shown from the opposite end too, the view and my path impeded by the ladder left by the Golfer after picking most of the rest of the apples.

Next, the woodland, the view from the bothy at the end of it, and the latter area shown from ground level, the wind sculpture spinning merrily in the breeze. There is minimal colour other than green in these borders now, and the little foliage left on the hostas after the dry summer is now dying down too.

Some of the roses under the clematis colonnade are still in bloom and there may be a handful of clematis flowers, but for a little while it will be foliage that provides the most colour, like the two witch hazels at the entrance to the woodland edge border. Beyond this, the grasses corner has filled out since it was planted but is currently windswept, and the two anything-goes beds are clinging to whatever blooms they can:

The dahlias are probably at a late peak now, but I am mindful that a frost could strike them down at any time, although last year our first frost was not till early November.  Scabious, tithonia, sunflowers and zinnias, along with tatty calendula, are the mainstays of the other cutting beds, but I may begin removing some of the remaining occupants soon:

I have been working on the blue & white beds this week, refilling the main border and adding plants to the corner where the dead stump was removed from. The other section(not shown) still needs attention, although 2 new clematis have just been added. Beyond this area, the rose garden is pretty bare and as we continue under the clematis colonnade and through the main borders we might see some gaps have appeared, where undeserving or over-dominant plants have been removed.

Heading back towards the house, the ex-snowdrop (obelisk?) border has begun to fill up again but is still short of a structural shrub or two, to be accompanied by some perennials with winter interest too. Looking back at the house from the adjacent ‘Tai chi lawn’ shows the view still blighted by temporary washing lines – but our Aga engineer will be with us on Tuesday, so normal cooking, heating and drying services will be resumed soon…hurrah, we can hardly wait!!

The Coop Corner may be short on colour (although will be getting an obelisk and clematis of its own, for added interest in future years), but the Coop itself has a pleasing group of  streptocarpus and promising buds on some nerines:

No doubt the end of October will come more than soon enough and paint a very different picture, but there will always be something to observe and enjoy whatever the month or the weather. If you would like to see a more rounded view of the garden as it is now, why don’t you watch the video** below? You can check out the route taken and the usual locations of the photos by clicking on ‘The Garden’ tab above.

** video delayed, please check back later

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Wordless Wednesday: Late to the Party

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In a Vase on Monday: Bishops and Chiefs

I was lacking inspiration for a title for today’s vase on Monday, and came up with the lame ‘Red, Red Wine’ because of the deep red of the dahlias and the availability of a prop, a fridge magnet with teeny (pretend!) bottles of wine (not the half-empty bottle of red that has been sitting in the kitchen for longer than it deserves and which I had clearly forgotten about!). Before completion of this post, however, inspiration arrived and the title changed although the prop will remain. If I have an idle moment, which is unlikely, perhaps I could consider what prop I might have used instead…

The vase itself is a cheap IKEA one, its dark heathery purple colour suiting the velvety deep red blooms of Dahlia ‘Bishop of Auckland’ whose simplicity and unpretentiousness I have been increasingly admiring recently. It was a dahlia favoured by departed blogging friend Dorris, who introduced me to her, and I enjoy it for its smaller blooms and the curved tips to the petals, less showy and brash than some of its bishopy cousins. Without giving it any thought, I once assumed there was a New Zealand connection, until I twigged that it will have been named after the small County Durham town of Bishop Auckland, where the early Bishops of Durham used to reside. Joining the Bishops in the vase we have two flowering stems of newly acquired Miscanthus ‘Red Chief’, a grass destined for the ex-snowdrop border – hence Bishops and Chiefs.

If you would like to join us on IAVOM today, all it takes is some pickings from your garden popped into a vase: then share them with us by leaving links to and from this post.

Posted in Autumn, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 25 Comments

Six on Saturday: Busy Between the Blooms

After a few days away at my Mum’s it was good to get back into the garden and get on with the accumulating tasks, as well as catching on the remaining blooms, like climbing rose ‘Crown Princess Margarita’ (above) and all the dahlias (below), now making up for the time they lost during the heat and drought with a floriferous autumnal display. Gardeners’ World yesterday included a feature on a gardener who dried her dahlias, hanging them up from chicken wire in what seemed like every room in her house. I wouldn’t go that far, but have picked a few blooms today and will try it for myself.

Thinking ahead to next year, I have been sowing a range of seeds and decided to try an autumnal sowing of larkspur, an annual I struggle to get to germinate when sowing in spring. Even putting the seeds in the freezer for a week or two doesn’t always work, although with a couple of attempts I usually manage a handful of seedlings. Not surprisingly, I was gobsmacked to achieve 100% germination from my early September sowing!

An elderly near-neighbour has what was once a smallholding, but now only has a few hens and an equally elderly horse. The horse, not surprisingly, produces a regular supply of manure, and I have decided to risk utilising it in the garden – my previous experience of manure from a friend introduced all sorts of weeds into the garden, and for a long time I was reluctant to chance it again, so currently it is a largely wasted resource with only one other neighbour digging into the heap. Although close by, access is awkward for a wheelbarrow as there is a ‘kissing gate’, but risking blocking the path for a short time I have brought a couple of loads back to spread on the beds where there is planting to do. You wouldn’t guess its source though, as any smell has long gone – just as long as the fertility hasn’t disappeared with the smell!

Some of it has been added to the corner bed gained from removing the dead stump I showed recently. The comfrey has now been removed from the bed as well (and will be replanted in the woodland edge), and it will become an extension to the blue & white border. The retaining wall needed some attention first, so I have done a spot of bricklaying today, the first for a while:

To complete my Six on Saturday, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator, I have found time to admire the streptocarpus in the Coop, with ‘Red Hot Chili’ in the foreground and ‘Bethan’ and ‘Polka Dot Purple’ behind. They and the handful of others are still looking healthy, so perhaps I can gradually uncross my fingers!

Posted in dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, projects, Six on Saturday | 19 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Return of the Native

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In a Vase on Monday: The Queen is Dead…Long Live the King!

Dahlia ‘Geoffrey Kent’, Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ and white Limonium (statice) in a lead grey Prinknash Pottery jug, a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her funeral and to her son, King Charles III.

Despite this solemn and momentous day in the UK, the IAVOM show still goes on, so please leave the usual links to any vases you have created today from material found in your own gardens.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 22 Comments

Six on Saturday: the Brief

Every Saturday Jon the Propagator invites readers of his blog to share six pictures of things in their garden. The brief is simple, and my simple six are brief, starting with a clutch of fluffy seedheads on Clematis ‘Gypsy Queen’, her season coming to an abrupt end rather earlier than usual (above), and a perfect new bloom on Dahlia ‘Pink Petticoat’ below:

These pretty and delicate little blooms, a cultivated form of Lychnis floscuculi I think, are rather lost in the border. I think they came via blogging friend Noelle, either from seed or plantlet – perhaps you could remind me Noelle?

Like Monty Don, I am not keen on begonias, but have to admit that I can’t fault the flowering power of those below:

Clematis jouiniana ‘Praecox’, although far from being a favourite either, is probably at the peak of her flowering season now, her sprawling form well-speckled with those dirty lavender blooms:

Finally, here is dwarf floribunda Rosa ‘Baby Faurax’, having a second flush of her properly purple little blooms:

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Wordless Wednesday: Feed the Birds

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In Vase on Monday: Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness…and Spiders!

For many of us, the opening lines of Keats’ poem ‘Ode to Autumn’ are immediately brought to mind when autumnal colours become prevalent in our gardens and seasonal low-lying mists begin to hang over river valleys and other hollows. One such mist took me by surprise yesterday, as invariably do the webs of the orb spiders that frequent our gardens at this time of year.

Today’s vase is very seasonal in this respect, with several stems of Dahlia ‘Art Deco’ joined by a couple of the nearby blooms of Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, seedheads of dark-leaved honesty Lunaria ‘Chedglow’ and a sprig of crab apple Malus ‘Evereste’, beginning

to colour up with its attractive peachy tones. The vase is an unmarked vintage stoneware pot, normally found sitting on a kitchen windowsill holding spatulas but temporarily transformed into a vase due to its rich colour and squat shape. The prop is a handmade metal spider, once at the centre of a wire web between posts, but now lodging in the bus shelter along with the ‘spiders keep out’ sign that has also served as a prop in the past

In the southern hemisphere, the season will no doubt be bringing with it new life and spring bulbs, but here or there, wherever you are, please consider joining us today on IAVOM by finding material from your garden to pop in a vase or jam jar and share with the rest of by leaving the usual links.

Posted in Autumn, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, roses | Tagged | 36 Comments

Six on Saturday: Scraping the Barrel

I have been scraping burnt-on grease stains off the Aga this afternoon, but feel I have had to really scrape the barrel for today’s Six on Saturday post, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator. At least I can start with something worth seeing, the only streptocarpus in the Coop that is flowering, S ‘Polka Dot Purple’. I began to build up a collection of them last spring, attracted by their long flowering season and ability to cope with temperatures down to 6°C. Although they overwintered well enough, they began to struggle early this year, first with an infestation of minute aphids and then with their watering regime. I ditched some of them and replaced some favourites, and am working hard to crack their aftercare. Two of the earlier batch which were kept are shown below, the one on the left probably on the way out, but the other perking up surprisingly well:

The size and weight of the branches of Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carrière’ that sprawl above the ‘bus shelter’ are such that they need support, and one branch has been supported by a redundant tree stump for some years. In recent weeks it has had to be repositioned more than once and in doing so this week the Golfer found that the stump had become loose and was leaning at an angle; further investigation showed that the base had now rotted, meaning the stump was no longer of use as a support. It wasn’t till a day or two later that I realised that when the stump is removed, as it will need to be, I could move the comfrey which currently occupies the bed at its base, probably to the woodland edge, and give myself a further extension to the blue  & white border…the garden continues to expand!

Also still taxing my brain is the ex-snowdrop border, although I have made progress this week and ordered some shrubs for it, albeit without a specific planting plan (hydrangea, nandina, sarcococca). I have also been toying with including a sculpture in the border and, finding it hard to visualise the scale of it, temporarily plonked an obelisk from elsewhere in the garden between the 2 existing obelisks (which will have clematis growing up them) to give myself more of an idea. It doesn’t really help but, having decided to include a sculpture, coming to a decision of what to have is not easy. I am not proposing to create my own this time, but to purchase one in stainless steel – without physical examples in front of me it is not an easy choice and I don’t want to rush it. It seems likely that the refashioned border will take on the name of the sculpture, whatever it turns out to be.

Having found a moment to order two new heuchera for the bronze heuchera bed, they were finally planted this week and the bronze effect is complete again, in time to set off the Acer griseum they grow around when the leaves began to change colour.

Our neighbours on the hedge side have had contractors in to cut the hedge today, and they came to our door this morning to ask if we could move one of our vehicles so they could cut ‘the corner’ of the hedge at the front of our properties. I was rather surprised when I went out later to move the vehicle back to find they hadn’t just cut the corner but had instead cut right the way up to our gate, ie ‘our side’ of the hedge! I am not complaining, as it saves us (the royal ‘us’, as it’s one of the Golfer’s tasks!) the effort…

Finally, finishing on another productive note, I will be off out to pick some raspberries when this post is complete. I only grow autumn fruiting raspberries but double crop them so, after picking over 17lbs in June and July, the second smaller crop is now ripening too. There will still be some blackberries to pick as well, this year ripening slowly over a longer period. Most of the raspberries and blackberries will end up on my breakfast muesli over the coming year.

Posted in art in the garden, borders, boundaries, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, projects, sculpture, Six on Saturday | 31 Comments