31st October 2021
Eryngium pandanifolium .
So far the autumn has been benign. The garden has relaxed in the end of season calm. Temperatures have remained high, the sunshine has been pleasant and the ending of the year
has been more conceptual than practical. Early storms have produced some rain and filled the water tanks very efficiently. We have had some wind, thinning deciduous leaves
and letting in the late season sunshine.
Over the last two days things have changed. A weather system passing over rocked the trees and slashed them with heavy rainfall.
For a while I wondered how people were coping at the bottom of the hill but have been no reports of flooding. There has been some debris in the garden, and thunder overhead
drowned all sound in the house for a few moments but it didn't last. Overnight it passed, the sun is sparkling and the temperatures have dropped.
The lunatic fringe forecasters have suggested that it could be the coldest winter they have on record (which usually means about three years, the lunatic fringe aren't great on hard facts).
I find it reassuring. This is the season for forecasting the coldest winter ever, it sets the scene for Halloween.
Eryngium pandanifolium could hardly be called a casualty, but the towering flowering stems have been laid down by the wind. They won't stand up again. For the moment they have fallen parallel
to the path so they aren't in the way. Windy weather will sweep them around in a great arc and eventually I will be sufficiently irritated to cut them off. For now it is quite
amusing to see the flower heads up close without having to squint into the bright sky.
31st October 2021
Galanthus 'Kinn McIntosh' .
From time to time when I photograph things I find that the best pictures over several years have all been taken on the same day of the month. Perhaps there are plants that
are particularly predictable, more likely it is just chance. After the first deluge of the week I went up to look for early snowdrops in the garden. 'Remember Remember'
offers in its name the promise of predictable flowers on 5th November. I expect it to be the first of the snowdrops to flower outside but only because the name sticks in the mind.
Checking back through my pictures, the earliest it has flowered has been 25th October so an expedition of discovery seemed appropriate. There was nothing to see, no sign
of shoots just a bare space on the ground. I looked at it for much longer than a bare piece of ground really merits. It isn't up yet but perhaps it will make a rushed appearance.
I have a second plant growing in a tub in the greenhouse. That isn't above ground yet either so hopefully it is having a late year. Beside it in the greenhouse
Galanthus 'Kinn McIntosh' has been flowering for a week. It is increasing gently and I am looking forward to the day when I can plant a spare bulb outside. It may well
turn out to be the earliest snowdrop growing in the garden. Both cultivars are selections of G. elwesii and both flower astonishingly early. 'Kinn McIntosh'
has the sense not to make reckless promises about timing which adds to its appeal in my view. It comes when it is ready which is quite calming as the garden negotiates the change of season.
'Remember Remember' is like the promise of a slick salesman, a little too eager to please.
31st October 2021
Gladiolus watsonioides .
There is a plan. There is always a plan. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that there is always an imaginative hope for the garden. An idealised image of the future. It isn't really a target,
it is more like the rumble-strips on a motorway that alert you as you drift off course. Several years ago I planted 200 Colchicum 'Waterlily' under the trees at the top of the garden.
Fortunately I had a birthday at around the right time, it made spending the money feel like a joyful celebration rather than a reckless indulgence. I consoled myself with the thought that I
would only have spent the cash on cake. Quite a lot of cake.
I had a vision in mind, a lilac carpet of delight shining in the autumn sunlight. This year it finally worked. I felt so smug that I planted another hundred. This year it was wonderful and
it's going to get better. Any background rumbling is just thunder. Rejoice!
The point is that there is a plan, I try to be guided by it. I am trying to reduce the diversity of things that I grow, rationalise the collection to things that all need the same conditions.
I am trying to cut down on the work by simplifying things. One of the delights of the garden is coming across something insane flowering away, bathed in the soft glow of unexpectedness.
I have a plan that will make things easier but it will reduce the insane joy a little.
Gladiolus watsonioides doesn't really fit. I knew that when I was given the pot of seedlings five or six years ago. I felt almost guilty when I saw the small red flower opening yesterday
as though I was cheating the garden of measured rationality. How much deviation from a plan can I cope with for a moment or two of effervescent joy in a plastic greenhouse with a dripping roof?
I can live with a little rumbling.
31st October 2021
Hedychium 'Devon Cream' .
Gardens are complicated things. We have had some wind this week, skipping lithely through the gaps, carrying away the heavy humidity of the season. I like the wind, for all the damage
it can do. I am happy to share the garden as it cleans and tidies away the exuberance of summer. The worst autumns are those where the rain soaks everything in stifling humidity and all the leaves
slump from the trees one night with a dull thud. It looks as though the place has just given up the struggle and rolled over. A plan acts like a beacon, coaxing the garden forward. The worms will
tidy up the leaves, give them a couple of months and it will be done.
It took the best part of two years to get the Hedychium outside but it was worth the effort. H. 'Devon Cream' has been in flower for several weeks and is looking magnificent.
I wanted a border of tropical foliage, I wanted a place for the Hedychium, I wanted things to be easier. The Hedychium border is laced with the perfume of success but mostly with the
perfume of 'Devon Cream'. I want space to plant more Hedychium in the garden. I am working on it.
The clocks have gone back. It will be darker this evening. I have some Nerine seedlings to pot up but I will be pushed out of the garden by the gloom before I am ready to leave.
As I walk up the path to the house I will pass a small plastic greenhouse with a leaking roof and pause to pat it affectionately.
Maybe the wind will blow for a bit. Perhaps I will be smiling as well.