Six on Saturday – 3/11/2018

Well, that was a week that was. The thermometer hit -3°C on Monday night. My Dahlias were blackened, top to bottom, just like it says in the books. In ten years or more of growing Dahlias, it’s the first time I’ve cut them down after they’ve been frosted. In previous years I’ve just picked a moment when I got sick of looking at them getting tattier. Fuchsias aren’t looking too clever either, though I did manage to get the non-hardies under cover so they’re fine.

I’ve often thought how nice it would be to have a nice clear line to demarcate the seasons; I’ve changed my mind, it isn’t nice at all; flowery one day, mushy and malodorous the next.

One.
Moving swiftly on. I started the week with destruction, felling a pine tree that we didn’t think was earning its keep. It was up against a thorn tree and completely one sided, too near to the conservatory, impossible to grow anything under it and it never grew like the picture in the book that made me want it in the first place. That’s my set of justifications for getting rid of it. Oh, one more; it’s my garden and I’ll do as I please. The idea was to plant another winter flowering Camellia there. so we could enjoy it in winter from inside the house. I think I’ve changed my mind about which Camellia, it’s likely to be ‘Show Girl’ not ‘Tanya’, which was lovely, but not for long enough. RIP Pinus koraiensis ‘Siver Ray’.

Two.
Trees for small gardens has been a mainstay subject for garden club talks and magazine articles since gardening began. The Propagator himself, no less, posed the question on Twitter in the week. I suggested bamboo, as I often do. Trees that never get very big tend to be very slow, often shrubs really, that become trees eventually. Most trees are deciduous or if evergreen, profoundly dull. Most trees will at best give you flower and fruit, perhaps autumn colour; they are “doing their thing” for only a few weeks a year. My bamboo is evergreen, with light green leaves on bright yellow stems. It had reached its present height of about 4.5m within four years of planting and will never get taller. It has spread to cover around 3 x 1m in fifteen years or more but could easily have been kept to a much smaller area. It needs thinning, which will yield me usable canes, let light and wind through and show off the stems better. I can think of two downsides, an unpronounceable name, Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ and a high price for a half decent plant. Beware cheap bamboos, they’re the spreading ones that produce lots of propagation material.
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Three.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Paradise Little Liane’. I have three sasanquas out the front of the house. Just behind them, at the foot of the front wall of the house, are potted Agaves, Sempervivums, Echeverias and Aloes. In front of them is Chamaerops and Yucca. Sun lovers all. There are plants of this Camellia at Mt Edgcumbe and Trewithen, both in shade, neither ever flower. I was at a talk about woodland gardens last weekend, where sasanquas were being talked of as woodland plants. Some might be OK, most will do better in sun and some demand it. ‘Little Liane’ is small, with very small leaves. It’d be good in a pot if you didn’t have acid soil and could find a nursery that sold it.
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Four.
Both of our neighbouring houses are empty so I was able to stand in one neighbour’s garden and take a picture pointing the camera at the other neighbour’s front window. I may not get such opportunities for much longer. Our Yucca gloriosa ‘Variegata’ is flowering again and the European fan palm, Chamaerops humilis, ain’t looking too shabby either. Camellia ‘Little Liane’ is at bottom right.
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Five.
I am inordinately fond of Hakone grass in its various forms. They’re elegant, often colourful, not invasive, by seed or runners and tolerate shade. The best thing about them is their autumn and winter colour. This one is Hakonechloa macra ‘Nicholas’, the first to start to turn colour. I have it in a pot at the back of the conservatory where it gets no direct sun but is doing a fine job of brightening a dull spot. I pulled it out into the sun to take its picture and it looks even better, but I have lots that get some sun and it’s back where it was.

Six.
Most of the hardy Fuchsias in the garden had both foliage and flowers turned to mush by the frost on Monday. One that I was surprised to see come through relatively unscathed was ‘Lady in Black’. This is very like ‘Lady Boothby’, widely marketed as the climbing Fuchsia, perhaps with a darker corolla. If we get nothing colder than we’ve had so far, I’m hopeful it will not get badly damaged over the winter and will cover this panel of my archway next season.
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Yesterday morning, at 8:22, I took a picture from upstairs and reckoned that if you’d marked around the shadow cast by our house, you’d have outlined our back garden. All around was sun, within was shadow. Things did improve as the day went on, but in general, it’s a much shadier garden in winter than summer. Cornwall might be the mildest part of the UK but I still look forward to the days getting longer again.
I’ve cut down the Dahlias and some perennials that were finished, Muscari are coming up, tulips in pots are just about to break through. There will be Camellias.
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There will also be lots of lovely blog posts to read. As gardens shut down for winter it gets harder but I can’t wait to see what imagination and quirkiness bring to the table this year. Talking of which, I’m off to see what our host The Propagator has showcased this week and to follow all the links from there to the rest of the SoS community.

 

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31 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 3/11/2018

  1. Our neighbour has a very similar looking bamboo to yours and I very nearly went for one to replace the tree I accidently did in. I went for a slow growing tree like shrub in the end as I wanted it to match the shape of the other tree in the corner. But I must admit the instant privacy and evergreen nature of the bamboo would have been preferable in many ways to the lollypop on a stick I have at the moment. I like that climbing fuchsia.

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  2. The mix yucca and chamaerops gives the most beautiful effect. I also liked your phyllostachys. Only 15 years and they didn’t spread too much. Good to know. Without a barrier around? I have P nigra and I always hesitate to plant them in the ground….

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    • I have no barrier on the bamboo. Moisture is the key, in moist conditions bamboos get much taller and spread much faster. Mine will send a runner up to a metre out and produces several canes along it. Or I cut it off if I don’t want it. I think that’s fairly typical of Phyllostachys, except P. vivax, which can be a beast.

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  3. I’m never too sure what to do with the ladies, whether Boothby or dressed in black, at this time of the year as I’ve read conflicting advice. I should keep noted but can’t remember whether I cut mine back last year (and by how much if I did) or not. How will you treat yours please? I forgot to move one of my tender F. Rivendell into the greenhouse. Surprisingly, plants on either side of it got frosted into mush but it has survived unscathed and is now flowering nicely indoors.

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    • All you can do with Fuchsias is leave them until spring and decide then. If the tops are killed or badly damaged cut them back hard, if not leave them and get earlier flowering. It totally depends on what sort of winter we get and the conditions they’re growing in.

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  4. Do you know, I actually like seeing how folk make a winter garden come alive. Sometimes it’s as simple as frost on form in a garden. I really don’t mind seeing pics of dead plants either – they have their own beauty. And I LUST after your greenhouse!

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    • The trouble with a wet and windy place like Cornwall is that stuff doesn’t die off attractively but tends to collapse in tangled soggy heaps. Nor do we get much frost to highlight form. I prefer to get the dead stuff gone so that the evergreens, many with architectural qualities like Yucca and Astelia, are seen to best advantage.

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  5. We have the same problem with a sloping north facing back garden which is quite sunny in spring and summer but dark and uninviting at this time of year. That is why I put raised beds in our south facing front garden which is warm pretty much all year round so I can hang out here now. Love your Hakone grass with its beautiful reddy orange autumnal tones.

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    • I started getting into woodland plants because I had quite a lot of shade (though no woodland)and I like them so much I don’t see shade as a problem at all, just an opportunity. The exception is shade encroaching on previously sunny areas which causes problems for the plants already there.

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    • Fair question. Mainly because it’s a bit of a shady corner that’s easily ignored because everything is happening in the other direction. Also from most angles the pine was seen, or more accurately, unseen, against a background of the other tree. Of course, with it gone, it’s no longer such a shady corner.

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  6. I get a lot of dry shade from clients’ established trees and the dead zones that often ensue. Hakonechloa is a very good answer to this and one which I have used a few times with varying success. I think it needs a bit of help in the form of moisture retentive stuff in order to get established?

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    • I had to water the ones I have in shade a few times this year but it was exceptionally dry. They’re not in the root zone of anything very big though. I think my best dry shade performers are Epimedium pinnatum colchicum, Epimedium ‘Frohnleiten’, Cardamine trifolia, Melica uniflora ‘Variegata’, and Pachyphragma macrophyllum.

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  7. It’s interesting to see the photo of your garden from upstairs, and even though it’s shaded it looks very much as though it copes with all of that. Clever planting! My problem is not enough shade and I’m patiently waiting for trees to grow, but stupidly planted birches which are definitely not good shade trees in this part of the world. I love your windy path down the garden-enticing! I like the bamboo very much and would be interested in using same to hide metal fences, but a bit nervous about the potential for it to sneak under said fence and appear next door.

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    • I’ve seen assorted bamboos in Australia, Brisbane Botanics for example. I’d be nervous. I don’t think the sort of barrier materials sometimes used here would stop the big beasts. Is it too cold for Delonix where you are? that’d be the shade tree I’d have if I lived somewhere hot.

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  8. Goodness, that’s cold for Cornwall. We haven’t had a killer frost yet which is just as well as I haven’t finished getting everything in. I am very fond of bamboos too, the non-spreading kinds. Two favourites in my garden are Chusquea coulou and Thamnocalamus ‘Kew Beauty’. Love your white camellia.

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    • It was unusually cold, especially this early. At least the ground is still warm so it didn’t freeze the roots of my numerous small camellias. Both those bamboos are beauties; sometimes I wish I had a bigger garden, mostly I accept that I can barely cope with what I have now.

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    • Sounds familiar, don’t know what I’d do without my shredder. I have enough Haks to do a Hak of the week until Christmas, and that’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had, come to think of it.

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  9. I have only just noticed (my third winter coming up) just how shady my garden is at this time of the year. The sunny border/gravel garden gets the sun first and most of the day, the woodland border doesn’t see any at all. And the remaining lawn is in shade too which means it is wet which means I haven’t mowed it yet! Sigh… maybe it has to go completely. Now you have introduced me to autumn flowering Camellias I am seeing them everywhere! Trengwainton has a lovely pink double one near the entrance and I saw a white one in the Italian garden in Heligan which had bright yellow stamens and was covered in hoverflies or possibly wasps. I didn’t dare try and smell that one though!

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    • In my over-thinking things moments I have reflected on how every part of my garden gets a different sunshine total and a different pattern, seasonally, diurnally, of sunshine; and then you get sunny years and dull years on top. As a photographer you will appreciate just how much more light a plant in sun is getting compared to one in shade. It’s a good thing most plants are adaptable to a degree. There was a sasanqua Camellia between Trengwainton’s reception and the road, if memory serves, I’ve never been there when it is flowering.

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      • Have a look at my post tomorrow Jim as I have a photo of a pink Camellia taken from the path from the car park to the reception. I did have a sniff, but couldn’t detect anything other than a slight herbal scent.

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  10. Good move with the Pine. There were a couple of quite hard frosts here this week but I haven’t manage to get everything in to the glasshouse yet, sadly. Houseful this weekend so no gardening – next weekend hopefully. I had a clumping bamboo (name long forgotten) I bought from Bristol Botanic Garden many years ago. It very slowly clumped up over many years and was beautiful. Then it made a break for freedom that I missed! it took three years to get rid of it from next door, my hedge and everywhere else. I’m very wary of them now. Just one dwarf one in a pot.

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    • My bamboo is at least well away from the boundary so it can’t easily escape. It has made the odd dash for freedom and been beaten back. I was expecting some sympathy for the pine but there’s been none. Hey ho.

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  11. I’m still trying to achieve pinus koriensis! It should have pretty large edible seeds and like the slightly damper climate we have. I’ve got one tiny seedling that I may try and plant out next spring before it gets bonzaied (assuming it survives the winter for me!) Yours definitely was suffering from it’s neighbours so the garden is better without it however.

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