Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
27th October 2013
An interesting week in the garden. I have been feeling the cold and slowly adding layers of garments, the garden has been shedding them. Most of the leaves have fallen from the sycamores
and the woodland space they shelter has become open and sunny again. For a few months I get spectacular low sunlight flooding in between the trunks and I often linger among them
soaking up the pleasure. The fallen leaves are still crisp but the weather forcasters are warning of strong winds and rain tonight. Tomorrow the garden will be different.
I was walking through a very beautiful valley garden yesterday that had suffered in the wind earlier this week. The giant Gunnera leaves had all been snapped off at the knees.
It was both strange and comical. I am hoping to greet the morning with similar lightweight amusement.
This will probably be the last flush of beauty from Dahlia merckii. It is a big sprawling leafy thing that will be battered beyond recognition by wind and rain. I took a tray of cuttings last week
because it seemed a pity to lose all that growth to the weather. I have no idea how I am going to get them through the winter but if I can keep them in growth into the new year
they should take heart from the increasing daylength. They will get a bit straggly in the conservatory but they will get over it.
27th October 2013
Eomecon chionantha is a survivor from the last spell of tree toppling weather. A large (and admittedly rather unstable) Leyland Cypress came down in the spring missing it by inches.
The tree had to be left in place for a few weeks and its thick evergreen foliage was smothering everything it landed on. The Eomecon had a lucky escape and was released from the shade
it was supposed to enjoy into a world of light, air and (probably most significantly) moisture. It has responded by growing with enthusiasm, for the first time in several years.
I think the trampling and squashing that was inevitably part of the tree removal set it back a bit. A long, warm and dry summer set it back a little further but the first rains of autumn
revived it and have inspired this unseasonal flower. As with most of the poppy-relatives, the petals fall quickly. It will be over long before tonights storm smashes it to the ground.
I'm not sure whether it has demonstrated that it can attract falling trees or demonstrated an ability to dodge them but I have noted the next closest risk, a large Acer rubrum
that never produces any autumn colour. I doubt there will be any leaves on it in the morning but I am hoping it will still be upright (I grew it from seed and I have thirty years of autumn disappointment
invested in its dullness).
27th October 2013
Sinningia Dark Red
Something about warm weather anaesthetises perception. The summer garden is awash with flower and much of it passes without note. As the weather cools the details become more important.
I have a single flower open on Mahonia 'Cabaret' and I spent some time trying to get a picture of it. Eventually a combination of wind, shadows and short-sightedness
drove me from it and it was rather nice to stomp down to the greenhouse where it is still warm enough to trivialise the details.
This Sinningia is one of a small cluster of pots that have been gathered together in preparation for winter. If a sudden freezing snap is forecast I can carry them all up to the house
without having to hunt around. It seems to flower at the end of the growing season. In past years it has often waited until it is safe on a windowsil the blooms open but a warm summer
has helped it along.I hope for seed every year but the capsules don't mature. If I had some seedlings I would be tempted to leave a tuber in the greenhouse over winter.
I think it is probably S.iarae, named in 1995 from Sao Paulo state in Brazil. If that is the case then reports online suggest that
it will tolerate a degree or two of frost (but not three). Identities are difficult to confirm because many similar species have been hybridised in order to test their relatedness.
27th October 2013
Nerine 'Mother of Pearl'
Greenhouses foster the illusion of safety. They create comfortable environments sheltered from the outside world. Mine is clad in plastic sheets and from time to time the weather will rip one or two
from the structure to remind me not to be complacent. About six weeks ago I replaced one in the roof that had been torn by the wind. The loose flapping section finally broke free and left me with a leak.
Useful in a dry summer, a bucket placed underneath collected a fair bit of water, but it couldn't be ignored any longer. Now the structure is intact again and the doors have been fastened
so they don't flap around in the gale.
The Nerine are looking good. The season of pollination has arrived and there hasn't been a free afternoon yet but it is worth making time. The first of my own Nerine seedlings have flowered this autumn.
First seedlings are always cherished but there is a small section of the mind that sees them, notes them and acknowledges that so far they have been essentially worthless.
'Mother of Pearl' is very welcome. This has been my second attempt to grow it, the first one had a salmon pink flower. It was attractive but wrong. This one came from a commercial source as a prepacked bulb
and during the summer (before it flowered) I lost confidence and bought another small bulb from a specialist collection. It's a good thing, I am happy to have another.
All being well, I will wake up in the morning and still have enough of a greenhouse to pollinate the Nerine in. If not - well, you can imagine what I will be moaning about next week!
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