Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Feeling of Suspense

Almost every garden blogger I read (in the northern hemisphere anyway) seems to be writing about the same thing, it's what Eleanor  Perenyi describes as "... a feeling of suspense: When will the curtain fall?".
The weather is still mild and and the cool evenings have given certain plants the conditions they like best. The Arums have taken advantage of  cooler conditions to throw up a fan of dramatically marked leaves, that grab the last few days of autumn sunshine.
 Helleborus niger 'Preacox' has sent up flowers as well as foliage and will be in bloom well into early December. It can take the cold winter weather and will still have a few flowers left in the Spring, however the marginally hardy Mexicans Amicia zygomeris and Salvia leucantha will have to be lifted soon and brought into the greenhouse before the curtain falls.
Arum italicum

Arum italicum 'Chameleon'

Helleborus niger 'Preacox'

Amicia zygomeris

Salvia leucantha

Friday, October 19, 2012

Only in Autumn.

Pelargonium sidoides has lovely silver grey foliage and equally beautiful flowers that are an extraordinary intense red/purple. The stems, about 12 inches in length, drape away from the main plant and in this case drop  below its pot and onto the foliage of a little Prunus that I have growing in trough below.  The resulting colour combination could only happen in Fall when the Prunus leaves turn a vivid red. This would, perhaps, be a little to hot in the Spring or Summer, but Autumn allows all sorts of dramatic colouration.

Pelargonium sidoides foliage.

P.sidoides flowers against the foliage of a small Prunus.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Falling in Love Again.

It has been a long, hot summer and during that time, I fell out of love with a number of plants that, despite being given lots of extra care and gallons of water , never looked their best. 
The japanese maples were amongst these, and in fact, they looked so miserable that I had plans to get rid of the majority of them in the Fall. 
Now of course, having survived the heat of Summer, they are at their best producing brilliant colour as the days shorten and the nights get colder. Well, now everything is forgiven and I chide myself for forgetting how wonderful these trees are in Autumn and Spring.
One thing I have noticed is that the japanese maples I have that are grown from seed and therefore growing on their own roots, are generally more robust than the named varieties that are grown on grafts. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?
These two Japanese maples have finally come into their own.
 On the left is A. japonicum 'Atarii' and on the right, A. shirasawanum 'Aureum'.

A. shirasawanum 'Aureum' , close-up view from above.

A close-up of the leaves of A. japonicum 'Atarii'

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Finishing Touch

The finishing touch to my garden re-invention is the placing of this large circular alpine trough in the centre of the space that used to be the lawn.  

The opposite point of view looking towards the house.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Revolution or Evolution ?

It has been coming for some time, last year I contemplated the removal of the two obelisk shaped beeches, that are a major feature in my garden. It has been evident for a decade or so, that they were planted too close together and were out of scale in my small city garden. The very mention of this to friends and neighbours was met with gasps of horror and I finally yielded and instead gave the two sentinels a very hard prune this Spring and I am now convinced that they can be kept in scale and are worth preserving.
Well, that was last year and I was still eager for change, this time looking at the lawn (in fact more of a green space) with a keen editorial eye. It was uneven, weedy and constantly under attack from skunks and racoons that tore up the sod in search of subterranean grubs. My inspiration was Japanese and Mediterranean gardens that used gravel as its open spaces, but the very mention of digging up the existing sod was again met with disbelief by my friends. I finally got my way and persuaded David and Jonas (both professional gardeners) to take on the job and, as luck would have i, in the October edition of the RHS The Garden, there was a short piece by Roy Strong entitled "Reinventing your Garden" that encouraged a radical re-edit.
Here are some quotes from the article:

 "What is it that happens to gardeners as they get older? Somehow after 60, mummification sets in, along with an inability to look at their garden with a critical editorial eye."

 ".. it reveals them as failing to understand one of the basics of horticulture: that gardens are about change, about perpetually adjusting a picture which will never be finished."

The starting point.




Out with the old...

In with the new!

The transformation begins.

Brick edging relaid.

             The finished product. Thanks David and Jonas, it looks great!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Coleus Cuttings

It was such a short ago that these tender plants were transplanted from 4 inch pots into larger containers in the garden. They've grown many times in size over the course of the Summer, and well into the early Fall, when they seem to thrive in the cooler days and nights. Now it's just a question of time before the first frost wipes them out, and so it is time to collect cuttings to winter-over plants for next year.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Greeks Bearing Flowers

It's Cyclamen Time in the greenhouse, and my collection, all started from seed in 2006, have matured into spectacular flowering machines. Presently, the species that are Fall flowering are the centre of attention, they are mostly C. hederifolium, but also C. mirabile, C. cilicium and C. alpinum. The favourite, at the moment, is C. graecum: they are not as large as their cousins as I was slow to realize the beauty of this species, and as a result they remained growing congested in a single pot before potting them up separately in 2010. Since then they have grown into lovely plants and the four that I selected as specimen plants finally bloomed for the first time this year. One of "The Greeks" has a beautiful dark pink flower, but it's the foliage that is the most striking thing about this species; I wish my photography could do them justice, and I hope these pictures will give some idea of the loveliness of this species.
A long shot of my little greenhouse, with the Cyclamen taking over most of the bench space.

The four C. graecum.
The best of the flowers on these plants
Foliage of the same plant.
Foliage of the second plant.
Foliage of the third plant.
Foliage of the fourth plant.