Wordless Wednesday: Peachy

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In a Vase on Monday: Oddments

On this grey, damp and drizzly Monday, a day that many people in the UK would consider to be a typical November one, contenders for a vase were few and far between and the result really is a collection of oddments: Astrantia ‘Bowl of Beauty’, the last of its kind for this year, buds of Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’, unlikely to progress further on the bush itself because of the dampness, flowering stems of seed-sown grass Pennisetum villosum, brought into the greenhouse for winter protection, a surviving bedding fuchsia similarly protected, and obligingly useful bronzey-red new foliage of Nandina ‘Obsessed’.

Tucked into another little Caithness Glass vase (not a ubiquitous pink version but a more unusual one somewhere betwixt white and amber), the blooms are a mere echo of warmer months but as perennials also harbour the promise of returning joys to come. As a collection of random oddments, they also gave me an excuse to grab random oddments from my assortment of miniature bits and bobs: a watering can, a domino and what I now see are mismatched shoes!

Have you any oddments in your garden you would like to share with us today on IAVOM? If so, just leave the usual links to and from this post.

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November Blooms: Stray Apologies

Chloris of  The Blooming Garden hosts a monthly meme encouraging us to share our top ten blooms each month, and she posted hers yesterday. I deliberately haven’t peeked at her November treasures yet, so I could roam my own garden without any preconceived ideas of what I might find. As it turns out I have found very little, most of which are stray apologies for past glories, but there are some seasonal pretties and winter promises amongst them. In recent years, she and I have both been introducing plants for winter interest, confident in the knowledge that there will always be plants flowering in our gardens; for now, however, it is more likely to be late autumn colour gracing our November posts.

I know she too will be featuring nerines this month, and although I am a mere nerine novice I have four varieties in flower, sadly no more than one or two out in each pot of five bulbs, but it’s a start! Above, clockwise from bottom left are the more usual Nerine bowdenii, then N bowdenii ‘Mr John’, ‘Alba’ and ‘Isabel’; all have been flowering for a number of weeks. The nerines are in the Coop, as is the striking fantasy Chrysanthemum ‘Salhouse Joy’ which featured in last week’s IAVOM, and Pelargonium ‘Lavender Lindy’, one of many scented varieties I have there. I shall shortly defoliate all the pelargoniums and cut them back, as recommended by specialists Fibrex Nurseries.

Behind the Coop in the partially shady border is Skimmia  confusa ‘Kew Green’, added early this year along with ‘Kew White’ which, being female and having a male friend nearby, should produce white berries in due course:

Also on the green and creamy white spectrum is the ubiquitous ivy, very much at home in the wilder and sometimes less wild parts of our garden, which at this time of year graces us with its sputnik like flowers, invaluable for late nectar seekers, followed by the green and blackish fruits. A close-up picture might have been better, but on a time poor day, this is all we have:

Amongst soggy rose buds and fading blooms of hardy chrysanthemums, there are some flashes of freshness, like the Bellis perennis beginning to provide colour in the many pots planted with tulips, and one of my two new autumn flowering snowdrops, this one Galanthus reginae-olgae ‘Cambridge’. Until now I have resisted any of these very early snowdrops as I felt there was nowhere they would be noticed amongst residual foliage; the new Fig Border, however, largely shrub filled, now provides an appropriate home for the newcomers which no doubt will be joined by a few more seasonal snowdrops in due course as my collection expands, which it undoubtedly will within the next few months.

That may well be my 10 for this month but I shall just throw in the promise of blooms to come, from one of my witch hazels, in this case Hamamelis ‘Rochester’, my newest one, which had just finished flowering when it arrived early this year so I am especially looking forward to a timely display in due course. In the meantime, do visit Chloris’ blog to see her and others’ November blooms.

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Wordless Wednesday: At Least it Made Pruning Easier…

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In a Vase on Monday: Much Too Strong for Phantasie

Dear love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dreame;
It was a theame
For reason, much too strong for phantasie,
Therefore thou wak’d’st me wisely; yet
My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.from ‘The Dreame’ by John Donne, 1633

Early this year I ordered rooted cuttings of some hardy chrysanthemums from a specialist dahlia and chrysanthemum grower and, tempted by the success of some of our blogging community in growing chrysanthemums in the greenhouse for late blooms, decided to have a go myself. Instead of a more typical variety, I thought I may as well try something a bit different – and to be honest I wasn’t especially confident of having any success – so chose one of the striking ‘fantasy chrysanthemums’, in this case ‘Salhouse Joy’.

Once the cutting was well-established it was planted into a large terracotta pot which lived outside the Coop until early autumn, at which point it was moved inside. Suggested dates for ‘stopping’ had been given, but as I wasn’t growing chrysanthemums for exhibition I didn’t really pay any attention to this – although perhaps should have done because in early summer the stems were so tall they dwarfed me and without staking were prone to snapping. At that point I just lopped the main stems to a manageable height which the plant doesn’t seem to have minded as the stems are now covered in buds – they are also covered in spider mite, but that’s another story!

The blooms, however, are a success story, as you can see – a fantastical, out-of-this-world creation and I am astonished at how easy they proved to be to grow,

considering the relative neglect they have been subjected to. I did talk to them, I suppose (sometimes severely), and they have been fed and watered when it occurred to me to do so (or, more likely, when the leaves began drooping), and I imagine they will continue to provide blooms for several weeks. The Coop is kept frost-free, but how will they fare if temperatures really drop outside I wonder?

Seeking a ‘fantasy’ connection for a prop to accompany the vase (three stems of Salhouse Joy’ placed into a car boot found vase which looks and feels very like the original 60s/70s Caithness Glass, although I have not seen that particular shape of vase before), I came across the poem ‘The Dreame’, by Jonne Donne, a poet I enjoyed hugely when studying him at A-Level, so was pleasantly distracted before writing this post.

Thank you for all your miniature creations last week on IAVOM’s sixth anniversary – I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and it was a delight to see your dinky little vases. Sandra of Wild Daffodil‘s name has been drawn out of my gardening hat and wins some biodegradable floral foam which will be in the post shortly. Back to normal this week, so no challenges other than to find something from your garden or nearby to pop into a vase or other receptacle and bring inside for your delectation. If you would like to share them with us too, please leave links to and from this post.

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Six on Saturday: the Times They are a Changin’

Cooler temperatures and blistery blustery Thursday have ensured that things in the garden are very much a changin’, but I for one have no objection. There is something about the seasonal changes at this time of year that brings out an instinctive urge to clear and tidy, to review and assess, to tweak and plan. Certain autumnal tasks are necessary rites of passage in my gardening calendar – sweeping leaves, clearing the cutting beds, pruning climbing roses, cutting back the less attractive remnants of herbaceous perennials….I may not be a fan of ‘housework’ but the gardening parallel is a very different thing altogether. There is an endless list of tasks to be done, and a clear (and – so far – dry) weekend will go a long way to ticking some of them off.

Judiciously timed (usually more by luck than judgement) sweeping of leaves can often be dealt with in a couple of blitzes over a period of a few weeks, especially when aided by an assertive breeze which conveniently blows them into corners and crannies. There is no noisy blowing or sucking of leaves here as I find the methodical sweeping meditative, almost therapeutic, although I do sometimes delegate the task of bagging up the swept piles to the Golfer.

Yes, and much as I like the greenness of the trees, who would want to miss their colourful metamorphosis, as demonstrated by the Acer griseum in the centre of the picture above, now changing rapidly through a spectrum of autumnal shades, complementing the peeling papery bark?

Likewise, the wisteria discards its finery but not before the veining on the leaves displays a contrasting skeletal framework, and I can also look forward to its imminent nakedness, starkly laid bare across the gable end of the house and begging for its winter pruning. Depending on our festive arrangements, I try to do this on Christmas Eve – only because there is no way I will not know what day this is!

The dahlias in the cutting beds were cut down after the frost last week blackened the foliage and lifted soon after, and in a strange way anticipating this outcome was a kind of pleasure in itself. After six months of flowering I knew their demise would be instant once temperatures dropped below zero, another defining point in the gardening calendar, just like leaf sweeping and pruning the wisteria, and once done the cutting beds can be fully cleared and tidied. I say fully cleared, but in truth I have had to shove some Brompton stock into one bed – finally releasing them from their cell trays in the greenhouse from which they have been bursting for weeks – because I don’t know where else to put them. Apart from the stocks and some still-healthy antirrhinum the cutting beds are now empty and I  look forward to removing lingering stakes and supports and raking over the rest of the beds.

In anticipation of the upcoming snowdrop season I took advantage of one of the recent wet days to update my snowdrop records and today cut the foliage from the hellebores that share the bed to give a clear area to add a mulch of compost and leaf mould, my first task for tomorrow, weather permitting. Emptying the older of the two compost heaps (2018 vintage in this instance) is yet another seasonal rite of passage but far from my favourite, (particularly the nearer one gets to the bottom of the heap), although removing the top few shovelfuls of the black gold is always quite satisfying, considering the less than savoury original contents. The urgency of the task, however, increases in direct proportion to the overflowing of the 2019 heap….but I still might manage to put it off a while longer, after mulching the snowdrop border that is.

There may well be a never-ending list of tasks to be done, but it doesn’t stop my brain ticking over, reviewing and assessing, tweaking and planning, at the same time, and an unwary plant may suddenly find itself relocated or ousted without warning or apology. Almost on the spur of the moment parts of the woodland edge border have been rehashed and refreshed in the last couple of weeks, and on my rambles I have found myself pausing and observing parts of the bold borders for rather longer than the norm – so something is clearly brewing although I am not yet sure what is it is…time will tell in due course, and so will I…

For other Saturday Sixes, please visit Jon the Propagator who hosts this weekly meme.

Posted in composting, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday, snowdrops | 16 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Bessera elegans, Underwhelming and Not Very Elegant

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