Stalwart and Seasonal September Blooms

I am trying to squeeze in a post to join with Chloris and her ‘top blooms’ meme but not only will it be fairly brief but the blooms will be more of a ‘middle-of-the-road’ calibre than top-notch. But that’s how it is, and I like to keep some sort of a record from month to month,  starting with Garden Bloggers’ Blooms Day before moving on to independent posts, and now joining with Chloris.

Above we have stalwart September bloomer, Sedum (now telephium, but I always have to look it up as it does not yet trip off the tongue) ‘Purple Emperor’, contrasting nicely with Carex ‘Bronco’, and below is just one of my many persicaria, all stalwarts, P ‘Inverleith’.

Not the best picture, but it would be unfair not to show the main concentration of dahlias again as they will reliably continue flowering through September unless we have an unusually early frost:

Still doing amazing things in the cutting beds are these clary sage. S horminum ‘Oxford Blue’ and ‘Pink Sundae’; I am sure they haven’t flowered for as long as this before:

Statice is a new favourite for the cutting beds as well as the borders, like the clary sage providing a shot of brightness for months on end. This one is Limonium ‘Purple Attraction (L ‘Rose Light’ has not done as well), shown with Ammi visnaga, which seemed to take ages to flower but is now providing regular pickings for posies:

New to me this year is Physostegia virginiana, a recent acquisition along with Agastache ‘Blue Boa’, both now flowering generously; I hope they both get through the winter satisfactorily. I don’t know why I have never grown the physostegia before, because it is a pretty plant.

Very seasonal is Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Glow’, grown from seed sown in July 2018; a great plant for the back of the border but sadly, I find, short-lived:

When the first Cyclamen hederifolium appear you know that autumn is on its way, and here they are in full flower, naked of their pretty marbled leaves:

Similarly naked are Colchicum ‘Water Lily’ which needed a special ramble to check up on and, yes, they are flowering, but this year hiding their modesty with a surfeit of Geum rivale leaves. A severe culling is needed of the latter, but rigorous deadheading would have been more beneficial. At least the colchicum will have some protection from the weather…

That’s my not-very-inspiring ten for this month, but if you visit our host you will always find something to inspire you – thanks, Chloris.

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Posted in annuals, cutting beds, dahlias, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 6 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Coconut Ice

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In a Vase on Monday: A Delicate Matter

As a change from brash and bright dahlias, I am delighted to have a more delicate vase to share with you this week.

As well as the Winter Sunshine sweet peas I usually sow a more ordinary mix, sowing both in October, but never have much success with the latter. This year, I was trialling some sweet peas for ‘Which? Gardening’, a variety called ‘Betty Maiden’, sowing them when they arrived at the end of March. As you can see from the vase, they are still flowering at the end of September, and I guess this is due to the time of sowing and not the actual variety, a soft flecked and shaded lilac. Next year I shall leave sowing all my summer sweet peas until spring in anticipation of a longer and more prolific crop – but that’s another story.

In the meantime, the sweet young lady is joined in a matching Caithness Glass vase by gomphrena from a packet of mixed colours (but almost exclusively white), left over from last year, and Ammi visnaga. The gomphrena seedlings were planted out into a pot where they just sat and got on with flowering for several months – barely reaching 6″ or so in height, they don’t have much of an impact in a pot but make a pretty addition to a vase. The prop is the first volume of a diary I kept continuously for about 10 years from the age of 14, which in later years may well have contained information of a delicate nature; earlier volumes, however, were more about falling out with friends and being too shy to talk to boys.

If you have blooms or other material in your garden that you have time to pick for a vase today, we would be delighted if you chose to share it with us by leaving links to and from this post. In the meantime, thank you for all your kind comments last week which were much appreciated.

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Six on Saturday: Wollerton Old Hall

Yesterday I met up with three ex-colleagues to visit Wollerton Old Hall. near Market Drayton in Shropshire, about an hour’s journey from home; this was my third visit, and the garden remains one of my favourites. Four acres in size, it is a relatively small garden set around an attractive sixteenth century house that is not open to the public. Designed and developed since 1984, the garden is made up of a number of garden rooms full of richly planted borders, topiary and subtle water features as well as a shade garden and small woodland. Although still on a different scale to most people’s gardens, there is nevertheless a feeling of relaxed and friendly intimacy about it, with numerous design ideas and planting combinations that would work in a more mundane setting.  I have not yet visited in other than the summer season, but having now bought the guide book with its wonderful year-round photos I need to remedy this soon. A very lovely garden….

I am linking my six photos of the garden with Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme.

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A Critical Eye Part 3, One of the Other Bits: Fig and Hosta

Other things have got in the way of a third part of this critical review of the garden – including new projects, which always seem to take precedence over ongoing maintenance – and, instead of there being just one final part, the Fig and the Hostas now demand a post to themselves. On this occasion, the critical view and new projects have become inextricably intertwined.

All of my hostas are in pots, but the perennial problem of slug control has increasingly made me aware that invariably those that suffered least (and often minimal) damage from slugs and snails were those not located next to other foliage. Might the answer be to ensure none of the pots were next to beds and borders where those pesky molluscs could be hiding and waiting to pounce? A number of them are the side of the house, close to the back door and against a retaining wall at the base of the mature hedge that borders one of our boundaries. You wouldn’t think that slugs and snails would be happy under a prickly holly hedge where the soil must be very dry, but they must have found something that they liked as some of the hostas here were eagerly devoured very early on the season – particularly my collection of miniature varieties. Of course it would take a slug less time to devour a miniature hosta leaf than it would something like H ‘Sum and Substance’ or ‘Big Daddy’, and most of them were quickly reduced to stumps.

A decision was quickly made, combining two solutions which were easily and fairly quickly carried out: dismantling the raised platforms that displayed the miniatures and moving the collection to the other side of the house, close to the ‘shady courtyard’ (see map under ‘The Garden’ tab above), and simply moving the larger hostas to the other side of the house, against the wall of the house. The latter involved moving the bird feeders, currently hanging under the guttering outside the kitchen window, to a new support next to the hedge but still visible from the window.

Miniature hostas on their original plinths

the plinths are no more

a grouping of larger hostas at the base of the hedge

some of the the miniatures in their new location

some of the larger hostas now placed against the house

Between the hostas and the gate is The Fig, planted around 16 years ago in a large pot partially sunk into the ground against the house, where it has thrived. Some years we have a large number of ripe figs from it and sometimes we don’t, but I have to confess that although an avid devourer of dried figs I am not very keen on the fresh variety. The tree itself has all but outgrown its location and must surely have burst out of its pot many years ago, in which case what might the roots be doing to the house?

The fig seen from the gate (note the patch of new paviors filling in the gap vacated by the miniature hostas)

I do like the green and shady effect of the fig, and it is much admired by visitors on our open days, who enter the garden underneath its canopy. They will be surprised and perhaps initially disappointed next year, however, as the fig is gone… We, though, have already had our own surprise:

Cuting the fig down filled our green bin and half a big bag, leaving a few chunkier branches to go to a neighbour for firewood

Astonishingly, there was a only a small piece of root outside the pot, which remained intact! Might it actually be possible to remove the fig without damaging the pot…?

The challenge became personal and it wasn’t a 5 minute job, but between us success was eventually achieved!

It still beggars belief that this large and relatively productive fig could have survived all those years in such a confined space. We all know that figs need their roots retained to encourage cropping, but we would perhaps have expected a fig of this size to require something rather larger than this pot, which is no more than a 12″ cube. Yet another of Nature’s miracles, I guess – and we have a survivor of the miracle, a useful and intact pot.

We also have a useful space and not surprisingly I envisage another project…

Posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, projects | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: In the Coop

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In a Vase on Monday: For Ali

Alison Mary Lyon
1959-2019
Today’s vase is a tribute to my younger sister who passed away this week.

It seemed fitting to pick my biggest and brightest dahlias, and pick them in abundance – and so big, so bright and so abundant were they that it took many attempts to find a suitable vase. I would have liked to use a Caithness Glass vase as she was particularly fond of their original 1960s earthy colours, but none of mine were big or heavy enough and a fairly plain green jug had to do to hold ‘Dorothy Rose’, ‘Top Totty’ and ‘Geoffrey Kent’.

By the time I came to place them in the jug, I realised that many of the blooms were not at their freshest, some fading at the edges of their blowsiness and with odd petals dropping as I worked. However, it struck me that life is like that – we just carry on as normal whilst we get progressively older and bits of us start to fail, sooner for some than for others. Likewise, although the dahlias may be big and bright they are not arranged in any cohesive way but nevertheless the overall effect is still pleasing – and indeed most of us live very ordinary lives, cramming as much into them as we can, and the overall effect is most pleasing to those who know and care about us.

So goodbye Ali, you have left family and friends with many fond memories of a busy life ended too soon.

Our Monday vases are created for so many reasons – for our own pleasure, as a gift, as a tribute, or just because…whatever the reason, picking flowers or foliage from our own gardens is a joy in itself. If you are able to create your own vase today then we would be delighted if you chose to share it with the rest of us on IAVOM by leaving the usual links.

Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 83 Comments