Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
6th November 2011
Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon'
Another week perfumed with 'Essence of Autumn', which in this case means rain on hot ashes. I had a big bonfire last weekend and it was still smouldering when the rain came.
A couple of weeks ago the ground was still dry under the trees, but now it is thoroughly moistened. I have been digging out a stump, on and off, for a few weeks
and a last big push yesterday saw it out of the way. When I started, I was excavating the roots from soil that way as dry and crumbly as sand. Yesterday I was scrabbling around in a
hole full of wet mud. The season has changed.
I cannot really rely on autumn colour. A sudden gale can strip the leaves from the trees any time from early October. We have had a blow or two, but this Liquidambar is quite sheltered
and has survived to give the best display for years. A smaller plant under a Magnolia has also coloured for the first time this year - a single vermillion leaf perched on the top.
It's only a seedling, but it's good of it to try. For years I have assumed it was going to be a greenish washout.
'Worplesdon' was raised and selected by Rowland Jackman (of Clematis x jackmanii fame, amongst other things) at his nursery in Woking. He chose it for colouring reliably
on acid soils and it is certainly the most reliable thing I grow (in a garden that is mild, wet and rather windy - it is difficult to imagine a location less likely to produce an autumn display).
6th November 2011
Anemone x hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson'
The herbaceous Japanese Anemones all appreciate rich moist soil in the growing season, but they seem to flower best if they are rather dry and sunny at the end of summer and it is difficult for
me to manage that. Fortunately they stand up again quite well if the weather beats them down.
I don't have a favourite colour - the one in front of me at the time usually heads the list. I even like 'Pamina', which tries so hard to be purple that it manages to emphasise how far short it has fallen.
Many of the cultivars will flower quite early in August, when I don't really want to be reminded of autumn. The white ones seem to come a bit later which is welcome. This one is new to me. I have been
trying to find out who raised it but so far without success. I have always grown 'Honorine Jobert', the first of the white cultivars to be named, and I didn't think it could be improved upon,
but this has a better shape flower and a cleaner white colour. 'Honorine Jobert' can have a rather bowl shaped flower that nods slightly and the outermost tepal is often rather greenish and twisted.
It took me several decades to see any fault at all in 'Honorine Jobert', and I have only had 'Andrea Atkinson' for a year or so. It may not last, but for now this is my favourite.
6th November 2011
A small white flowered species from Uraguay, I have seen magnificent pots of it in other peoples greenhouses, but with me it plods along and produces a few flowers at ground level in autumn.
Does fine for me in a pot and doesn't seem to be worried by cold. It may be that I should keep it moister during its summer dormancy.
The hardy bulbs in the greenhouse are starting to show the first shoots and hopefully there will be a selection of flower buds showing as the winter sets in, but nothing much to see yet
except for a bright pink Hyacinth which has produced a single flower at ground level before there is any sign of growth above. I still have to sort through the greenhouse and rescue
any of the bulbs that are not going to be winter hardy - the Lachenalia are mostly shooting already and they will not prosper if I allow the leaves to get frosted.
6th November 2011
Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious'
There also seem to be a lot of twigy things that need protection from the cold. I usually stay away from tender shrubs because of the space they need when the cold weather really starts.
This Salvia is a prime example. It isn't hardy in the ground here (I have killed it twice now). If I had a sunny south wall it might be worth another try, but I haven't.
I have also killed it in the greenhouse and I may be about to repeat the experience, because I can't see me finding room for it on a windowsill. I was going to say on a sunny
windowsill, but I don't have one of those.
This golden leaved form seems to be later flowering than the typical one. This is the first time I have flowered it thanks to an autumn that has started rather benignly. I have taken note
of the snowfall in the USA and started the process of preparing for winter. During the week I hung some black polythene in the greenhouse. It will keep off a radiation frost and give
me time to rush around in a panic if there is a serious cold snap. Plants outside will just have to take their chances, but the Sansevieria came into the house at the start of
the week for their annual sulk in the dark, and a couple of Phalaenopsis came in this morning as a sort of limbering up excercise while I think about where to put the rest of
the tender orchids.
They are already starting to look cold, and won't tolerate an overnight frost. Hopefully this Salvia will be a bit more forgiving.
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