End of month view – November 2017

I first contributed to Helen’s end of month view two years ago so I now have the same view of the garden for the last three years. It’s like visiting a town you’ve not been to in years; most of it is unchanged and familiar, a few bits have changed completely. In the garden a large magnolia, clump of bamboo, large hazel and an Osmanthus are gone. Everything else is much the same. It makes more sense to talk in general terms about where things are at the end of November than to contemplate what is late or early this year compared to years before.

The sun is low in the sky, picking out plants with structural qualities. The warmth of the light enriches the colour of everything, though when the sun is hidden and the light more blue, it is the contrasting golds of autumn colouring that stand out. What remains of deciduous foliage looks insubstantial and not set to last much longer.

It is the season of the evergreens. Largely overlooked and serving only as a backdrop to the flamboyant colours of summer flowers, they now show their worth. Sometimes cold weather enhances their colouring, the white variegation of Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’ turns pink, some conifers assume red or brown tints. The main thing though, it is that they are still green and visibly alive when all around is bare soil and skeletal branches that would look no different if they were actually dead.

The problem with evergreens though is that they get inexorably bigger every year and almost always outcompete the deciduous plants around them. Plant too many and then show any reluctance to ruthlessly cull when the need arises and you will end up with nothing but the evergreens and eventually have a deadly dull evergreen canopy below which nothing will grow.

There are also a great many evergreens with dark green foliage and not so many that are light in colour. Green conifers underplanted with Rhododendrons and Camellias might work with enough space or it could be funereal. I value variegated Pittosporum, Astelia and Bamboos for being both evergreen and bright.

My aim is to keep the balance of light and shade in the garden fairly constant. Looking at old pictures is a great way of monitoring progress.

Steve at Glebe House is hosting links to other end of month posts.

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End of month view – October 2017

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This time last year the Acer on the left was still covered with leaves. Two years ago it was bare. It also had a backdrop of a magnolia which is now gone. Not much else is different. The real bareness of winter hasn’t hit yet and there are still bits and pieces of flower to be found. As the deciduous stuff slowly recedes, so the evergreens become more prominent.
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This view was taken with the camera held aloft on a monopod. I do like a different perspective. It’s as near as I can get to seeing it anew, as a first time visitor might. I find
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myself pleased and displeased for the same reason. I want a garden full of different things so there is always something going on but I do worry that it’s all a bit too disorganised and busy. I’m going to stick with the first part and be pleased as I know I will never change the way I do things. This seems like the right time of year to be thinking about making changes. So I’ve thought about it and decided against.

I have three autumn flowering camellias in full sun in the front garden. ‘Paradise Little Liane’ has flowered freely this year for the first time. If it seems crazy to have a white flowered camellia against the white front of the house, bear in mind that we mostly see it from inside, looking out. ‘Navajo’, seen from indoors and backlit, is a treat.

Dahlia ‘Cheyenne’ chose not to flower until mid October, too much shade I imagine. Miscanthus ‘Ferne Osten’ is a flopper with us and will soon get cut down. ‘Septemberot’ stands up much better and sometimes colours well in autumn, not this year though. The nerines are all but over for this year. Even so, they still pack a small pink punch. Other than that, it’s all Fuchsias and Salvias.

For more end of month shenanigans head over to Glebe House Garden and follow the various links.

End of month view – September 2017

 

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Even though there is plenty still happening in the garden, it is the end of the growing season and seems like the right time to take stock of the successes and failures of the past year. Autumn is the ideal time for making changes; getting rid of the under-performers, planting something better, moving things around.

Today I removed a large Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’. It’s a handsome enough fern, but basically just a variant of the wild male fern with the tips of the fronds divided. It’s a curiosity but the overall effect is no different from the normal version. It is at its best in early summer, pretty dull the rest of the time.

I also swapped over two hydrangeas. One is a small double flowered serrata variety which was not enjoying the dry ground beneath the maple where it was. The other is a much bigger double flowered lacecap macrophylla that in moist soil was growing lush and flopping over the path. The serrata now has more moisture, the macrophylla, in poorer conditions, will hopefully put on less growth and flower more. We shall see.

The biggest problem now is to somehow get back under cover all the pot grown Fuchsias,succulents and camellias that are at risk outdoors in the winter. There is never enough space. Last years plants have grown, in size and number, others have been acquired. We’ve managed to kill a few, which helps a little, but never enough.

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I’m pleased with how much colour I still have, though it’s best not to look too closely at many of the plants. Slug and snail munchings and spotty leaves are what you get in wet years. The dahlias have mainly had a poorish year, some starting flowering very late and the blooms spoiling quickly. Some Fuchsias have had problems with rust and other foliar diseases but many are still flowering well. My new this year Fireworks golden rod is in full flower now, following on from Heleniums, all of which have now finished. Japanese anemone ‘Bressingham Glow’ looks to have a long flowering season and is still in good shape. Nerine bowdenii flowers well into October, as do various Hesperantha. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is an extraordinary performer, still going strong, as are several Salvias.

I have two Miscanthus sinensis varieties, ‘Septemberot’ and ‘Ferne Osten’, both now at peak flowering. I don’t have high hopes this year for autumn foliage colour from them. The Hakonechloas will provide straw colour way into the winter but are still fully green at present.

Most of my shade plants are spring flowerers, Impatiens omeiana being a notable exception. It is flowering freely above somewhat ragged foliage.

We planted pots of Begonias at the front of the house and they have been and still are outstanding. The concrete drive runs right up to the white painted front of the house, it’s not a setting for anything subtle. We potted up a few slightly less gaudy bedding type begonias individually and kept them in the conservatory where they have flowered for months too.

I picked over my tomatoes and cut them down yesterday. They’d done quite well but botrytis has been a problem. Next Year’s vegetable seeds have been ordered. Seeds of things in the garden have been collected and more will follow. The dahlias I grew from seeds of ‘Orange Cushion’ are flowering well on my allotment and are good enough to encourage me to grow more.

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End of month view 1-9-2017

I was going to skip this month, but the meme has a new host and I received a reminder, so here I am, a day late.

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A few days ago we were looking at a large Magnolia that has been near the centre of our garden for about twenty years and had reached perhaps 22 feet in height. First thoughts were to trim some branches to reduce the amount of shade it was casting, but after a closer look, we decided that was impractical and made the decision to remove it. It has now mostly gone.

I suppose because it was a magnolia, there was, and still is a certain amount of soul searching about whether it was the right thing to do. Had it been Sycamore, that would not be the case. The only questions would be be why it was planted in the first place and why it had stayed so long. It was planted early on in my enthusiasm for Magnolias and had I known then what I know now, would not have been the variety I would have chosen. Looking on it as an honorary Sycamore wasn’t so hard.

The improvement in light level across a large tract of the garden is massive, including getting dappled sunlight into the conservatory at the back of the house in early evening, something we have not had for years. At the back of my mind when I take drastic action like this is a garden I do occasional work in where the owners have failed to make tough choices over a long period and now have loads of massive conifers below which nothing will grow.

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Looking back to the house, today. To the right of the Yew are a purple maple and variegated Chinese Privet. In the foreground are Shefflera taiwaniana and Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’

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The same view a year ago. The magnolia obscures the privet completely.

The Schefflera and Pittosporum in the foreground will become small trees in time, but will not shade the garden, being at the northern margin.

Elsewhere in the garden, it is the season of late summer colours, with Dahlias and Heleniums doing most of the work. Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ is all but over and has been superseded by ‘Chipperfield Orange’, ‘Monique’ and ‘Feuersiegel’, all quite tall varieties. Dahlias ‘Red Velvet’, ‘Orange Cushion’, Hayley Jane’ and ‘Gerry Hoek’ are excellent but there are lots of other good ones as well.
Japanese anemones of various sorts are doing their stuff, with ‘Loralei’ and ‘Bressingham Glow’ standing out. Fuchsias are flowering too, but are less impactful, flowerwise.

In the greenhouse, Scarborough lilies are centre stage; We have Cyrtanthus elatus, the red species, and C. elatus ‘Pink Diamond’, which is earlier flowering and pink.

A number of these plants are due to feature in tomorrow’s “six on Saturday”, a different meme, so if you want pictures you’ll get them then. I’m glad that the end of month view is to continue. My next port of call is https://glebehouse.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/end-of-month-view-august-2017/ from where Steve is now hosting the meme.

End of month view – July 2017

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Every month, for a day or two leading up to making this regular posting, I muse on what I am going to say. Mostly I am thinking about the garden overall, rather than about specific plants, but overall is the sum total of what key plants are doing, so there’s overlap.
This month I had formed a strong impression that the earlier stuff was all but over, a little earlier than usual because of the hot weather, but the later stuff was perhaps a little behind because the ground had become so dry.
So I took this picture from our bedroom window and compared it with the same view from a year ago. Virtually identical. Seems like my June gap comes in July, though It’s not too pronounced. A little more effort to get dahlias and fuchsias going strongly earlier and I will have cracked it.

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The viewpoint I have used back towards the house has been all but closed off by the Schefflera and Pittosporum at the bottom of the picture. I put the camera on a monopod and held it aloft as high as possible, taking the picture with a cable release.

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I used the same technique for this shot. The polytunnel and the camellias and Magnolia immediately behind it are in the far corner of our patch. Last year I had a pink dahlia amongst the oranges and reds behind Herman the Head. This year I put it elsewhere but planted out the pink hydrangea, so there’s the same clash. I thought it would be over by now, at least that’s my excuse.

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This is probably my favourite bit at the moment. Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, with a Shasta daisy behind it, which always flops. The taller Helenium to the right is ‘Chipperfield Orange’. I have Mina lobata growing up the metal obelisk, it can sprawl over the Helenium and keep the flowering going into the autumn.

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I don’t often mention the front, but we have just for all out vulgarity with bedding in pots, tempered with several Eucomis and Agaves montana and parryi which stay out all year round. So much crap is talked about bad taste in gardening, a few years bag Dahlias were the epitome of vulgarity, now they’re the height of fashion. I can’t be bothered with it. Bright colours are uplifting, the end.

End of month view – June 2017

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Two things struck me when I compared this picture with the same view a year ago. The first was that the flowers are a couple of weeks ahead of last year. The second was how little the view had changed. I found myself searching for the small differences between the two images.

For some reason I find that slightly dissappointing, without really knowing why. Perhaps because it seems like I’ve done lots of work in it and planted lots of new plants and there doesn’t seem to be a lot to show for it.

On the other hand, a lot of garden maintenance is directed at keeping things the same, on the basis that you have it looking how you want it to look and are trying to keep it like that for as long as possible.

Big changes are all too often not of our choosing, a large plant dies or a tree blows down. It often takes a disaster like that to significantly refresh an established garden though, and with hindsight will often come to be seen as having been a positive.

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There is still bare soil to be seen, with Dahlias, Salvias and the like taking their time to fill out. A lot of my Dahlias were slow to start this spring, I think I need to find somewhere warmer to get them under way earlier. Consequently I planted half a dozen out a week or so ago and a similar number today.

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Eryngium giganteum

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Geranium ‘Nimbus’

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The first Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ of the season.

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The double Hydrangea we bought last year is doing well.

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Hydrangea serrate ‘Tiara’

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Euphorbia lathyrus and unknown Clematis.

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Bobby

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Of Colour and Chaos

End of month view – May 2017

Come in, please, I’d be delighted to show you round my garden. Can I suggest you put on over-trousers, there are places where the path gets narrow and it was drizzling earlier, everything’s a bit wet.
Let’s start round here, I’m afraid I didn’t get to my poppy in time to stake it. Seemed to go down overnight. My Camellia ‘Nightrider’ is leafing out as beautifully as ever. That’s coming over the path too, suppose I’ll have to trim it back before long.

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This bit beyond the trellis is pretty shady. The Weigela has done better this year than for a while. The bamboo is getting a bit unruly, I’ve already taken ten or more stems out where they were leaning across the path. I use on the allotment for my runners. That

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thing down to your left there, that’s Polygonatum mengzense tonkinensis HWJ573. Hinkley and Wynn-Jones, need I say more. OK, the flowers aren’t stunning, but it’s a very elegant little plant. That’s Impatiens omeiana behind it, but you knew that. That’ll flower much later, provided I keep it moist. The Polygonatum has bright red berries right along the stem, I got seed out a few weeks back and sowed them; nothing yet. That big clump over there is Blechnum chilense; it’s too happy, trying to take over the garden. I love the new fronds unfurling but I’m going to have to chop it back.

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That’s all my pot grown camellias to your left there. Why in pots? Well I wish I had room to put them in the ground but I don’t. Some of them are a bit tender too, they go in for winter. That Polygonatum over there, the one the cat is sniffing, is just your common or garden Solomon’s Seal. Usually gets trashed by sawflies, this year, nothing. I squashed a couple of adults and rubbed off a couple of batches of eggs, is all. Right, this way.

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I sorted out my polytunnel. That’s where all that junk on the path came from. Agapanthus, that one, enormous, biggest I’ve ever seen when it’s growing well. In the tunnel? mostly camellias, tomatoes too. The toms provide shade for the camellias. The plan is to go to a show next year and sell loads. Camellias, not tomatoes. That’s my home made family apple tree just there. I did six grafts back in January, three varieties, all took. They’ve made just as much growth as the established shoots. Even some apples on one of ’em, though I should really remove them. Come on, this way. There is a path under

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these neriness, be careful though, they’re awful slippy. Worse later when the leaves die down. This paved semi-circle was our top of the garden sitting area once. Look at it now.

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The glasshouse is half empty, you can actually walk to the other end. The other half’s obsession, cacti.

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Right, push past the Chionochloa and mind where you’re treading. The Dianthus are just the thing for breaking up the edge of the path. Paving slabs are very practical, but the less I see of them the happier I am. I’d normally have chopped the Fuchsias back but they didn’t stop flowering all winter and if I did it now the bumble bees would be well pissed off. I love the colour of that geranium. While you’re here, just cut through the border there and clamber up the bank. Look at that view down the back of the glasshouse. Not

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bad for a bit no-one sees. Yes, that is Fuchsia excorticate coming through the fence, well recognised. Actually, while we’re up here, I’ll do my every month shot from here. The Schefflera taiwaniana is getting bigger, I’m going to have to move my viewpoint slightly.

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Another few years and the Schefflera and Pittosporum will be fighting it out. Further round the path is blocked with fuchsias I’ve potted up into 7.5 litres. Oh, and pot grown spuds, and lettuce. Yes, Dahlias too. They should have been out by now, bit slow to get going.

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Oh gosh, look at the time, I can see you need to get going. I’ll just leave you with some pictures, you can browse them at you leisure.

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Thrown together as my contribution to the Patient Gardeners end of month meme. There’ll be links to many more I don’t doubt.