Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
24th November 2013
Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Purpureus'
I went out into the garden this morning in a futile attemp to catch up with everything that needed doing and there was a distinct feeling that something seasonal had happened.
Some definitive moment had passed. The start of the week was bathed in cold water followed by strong drying winds and cold nights. I have started carrying things up the
long muddy trail from the greenhouse to the house. Temperatures dipped on thursday night but stopped short of frost here (not all gardens locally escaped). All in all,
it has been autumnal.
Twenty years ago I planted Osmanthus heterophyllus in a spurt of enthusiasm for evergreen shrubs that weren't Camellia. It has grown to about 10 feet
and made a dense evergreen with rather more naked stem than I had imagined but I am quietly fond of it. In the years it has been here it has never put on a significant flower display.
Two weeks ago it managed a short twig with a few flowers at the top of the bush. Anybody looking into the garden would have seen me clutching a camera and
jumping up and down under a big bush screeching with frustration. (No, I'm not going to get a big ladder. It always seems like a good idea and it never is.)
A couple of weeks later O.h. 'Purpureus' has relieved my frustration at a convenient height. It dates from that wonderful era of gardening when
elderly gentlefolk either took up bridge or planted shrubs. Gentle people who spurned the brash and distinctive variation in favour of the slight and subtle.
Is that a kind way of saying it wouldn't make the grade nowadays?
24th November 2013
Hedychium 'Tai Alpha'
Cold nights have triggered the autumnal collapse of the Hedychium outside. Those in pots would have been moved under cover this weekend
it there had been time but perhaps a delay is a good thing. In a week or two the old stems will fall away and save me the trouble of removing them.
In the greenhouse most of the flower spikes have finished but 'Tai Alpha' is still hanging on. There are a couple of canes still growing that might
flower in the new year if the weather permits but they will be a bonus if they make it.
The spicy scent still fills one side of the greenhouse but blends with the dank earthiness and the combination isn't entirely pleasant. Years ago
I wondered if the smell of cold greenhouses in autumn was caused by slugs. It is the sort of question that can only be answered by performing a test.
I collected half a dozen large slugs into a bucket and had a good sniff. It's true, they do smell of autumn but not as strongly as damp soil does.
Over the years I have slowly given up on slug pellets and resorted to sarcasm. It isn't any more effective but it is more satisfying to distribute.
Hmmm. Thank you for that!
24th November 2013
Galanthus 'Autumn Beauty'
Autumn snowdrops are a source of seemingly endless pleasure. I grew up in an era when they were scarce and difficult. Perhaps they
still are and it is me that has changed. I think it is more likely that the world has changed. As a young man they were always grown outside
based on the classic gardeners assumption that if it won't prosper outside there must be something wrong with it. Just plain miffy!
We have grown out of the feeling that we have failed if we have to keep things in pots in the greenhouse. Or at least I have.
There are still only a few named selections of autumn flowering snowdrops but no doubt there are more to come. It will be interesting to see
if they proliferate in the footsteps of the spring snowdrops.
'Autumn Beauty' is the name given to a group of seedlings arising from a cross between G. elwesii and G. reginae-olgae. Recently
people have noticed some variability among them. I didn't see it in the group for sale when I bought mine but doubtless the variations will be named
in time. Wish I had bought a few more of them at the time.
24th November 2013
One advantage of leaving the Hedychium outside for a few more weeks is the chance to enjoy the bright seed capsules for a bit longer.
The leaves have slipped into autumn colour like a clown on a banana skin, and shortly they will fall to the ground. In the meantime
they make a very clear statement that the party is over. Turn yellow, switch the lights on, everybody goes home.
The seeds are enclosed in a scarlet berry displayed in the bright orange capsule. Presumably they are scattered by birds in habitat.
My local blackbirds haven't got the idea yet, or perhaps this is a bit too much for them.
In a week or two the stems will break at the base and
all fall over in an untidy heap. There will be a distinct feeling that something seasonal has happened. It is a familiar feeling, as though
the season is changing in a series of clear steps rather than the slow erosion of minutes of daylight. I have started to look forward to the winter solstice,
the spring bulbs and the return of the light.
To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
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