Friday, 18 October 2013

Foliage followup October 2013

What better way to celebrate the first anniversary of my blog than posting my first ever foliage blog.
It's been raining here for the last 2 days - I love the garden in the rain and I love to garden in the rain!
I always think that gardens take on a different dimension when it's moist and misty outdoors.  The senses are really turned on when we venture outdoors on rainy occasions.  The one job I love to do when it's raining is weeding.  The weeds pull out the soil with little effort, especially in the lovely rich soil I have in my garden.  Quite possibly gardening in the rain is not for everyone but I do recommend giving it a try - I often feel just as invigorated as my garden does!  Having said that, I would not dream on venturing out in torrential rain, unless absolutely necessary and it is not recommended to plant or move plants when the soil is waterlogged.

As I was busying myself with moving some pots and containers into their winter homes I just couldn't help admiring how lovely foliage looks in the rain.

Physocarpus opulifolius Burning Embers
In sharp contrast to the lush Physocarpus foliage, which might just be the perfect background shrub for my new Kniphofia, Bee's Lemon, we have the ouch factor!

Mahonia x media Charity
Not all Mahonia have the ouch factor though, a new, rather expensive self indulgence -   Mahonia eurybracteata subsp.ganpinensis Soft Caress.  Far more tactile that its cousins - we grimace no more!

Mahonia eurybracteata subsp.ganpinensis Soft Caress
This Mahonia and it's partner sit comfortable either side of the front door - in good sized terracotta pots.  They won the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Plant of the Year 2013.  Which explains the high cost,  I hope I'm not disappointed!

Another from the Mahonia family Mahoberberis Dart's Desire.  A Mahonia and Berberis hybrid this low growing (50cm) evergreen shrub is very easily identified as such.  It produces lovely new red leaves in spring.
Mahoberberis Dart's Desire

Terracotta pots are often a good way to highlight foliage of plants.  I've yet to find a candidate that doesn't look good in terracotta.  Take Wooly Thyme - this plant would never in a million years survive planted in the soil in my garden - it often looks at it's best trailing over brick walls, which I don't have!  I can have a similar effect by growing in a good sized pot.
Thyme pseudolanuginosus

Unlike the Thyme, Black mondo grass does grow happily in the borders.  It also does well in containers.  This specimen is underplanted with deep blue Iris reticulata and really comes into it's own in spring time but unlike other spring containers - I can leave it basking in the sun and enjoy it year round.  The light bouncing from the wet black leaves is almost mirror like and difficult to capture.
Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens (AGM)

I like to grow some clover in a pot for the bumblebees - when flowering is over it is sheered right back and will produce new leaves which will often remain looking good over winter.  This purple four leaved clover is far too invasive to grow in the borders and I hope by keeping it contained - it will remain well behaved!

Trifolium repens Purpurascens 'Quadrofolium'

Limp and heavy with rain the Acer foliage provides quite a dramatic background for the Japanese holly fern and others.  Red and Green together is, in my opinion, one of mother nature's perfect partnerships
Acer palmatum dissectum Crimson Queen and Cyrtomium fortunei

There are lots of reds and greens around


Cotoneaster, Leucothoe and Heuchera

Variegated Cornus

Holly and ripening berries

 Varying shades and textures of green in a red container makes for a great looking winter display
Variegated Euonymus, Heuchera, Ivy and Maidenhair fern planted up for a winter display
Drenched in rain - species Nasturtium with it's green leaves and red calyx grows happily through the privet hedge.  Later the green seeds will ripen to metallic blue berries
Tropaeolum speciosum
From the tiny proportions of the Tropaeolum leaves to the massive proportions of the Fatsia foliage

Providing an almost jungle effect in the side garden Fatsia is very much at home in the shade
Fatsia, Fern, Magnolia and Zantedeschia looking lush in October rain 
Regular rainfall will provide better conditions for the slimy creatures I mentioned in my previous post - I suspect the Lupins will one of the first casualties, it usually is!

I'm seeing mixed messages from Hosta So Sweet - it seems a bit confused as to what time of the year it is

Hosta So Sweet

Euphorbia characias Silver Swan - not only tall and elegant in the heavy rain, it really lights up on a dull day.

Euphorbia Silver Swan
I do suspect I may have over done my first foliage post - so a big thank you for your patience and perseverance.  It wasn't supposed to be this lengthy and believe me, there was lots I left out.  

I leave you with a shot of my favourite shrub, complete with cobweb for effect!

Cornus alternifolia Argentea

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

October in my little corner of Scotland

I really am surprised at just how many plants are looking good right now.  Usually my winter tidy up has began in earnest but not this year.  I can't seem to pluck up the courage to do the deed quite yet.

I'm one of those gardeners who just has to chop everything back as we near the end of they year.   Perhaps if I tell you my reasons for doing so you'll understand.  Scotland suffers very wet and on occasions mild weather.  Rightly or wrongly, I refuse point blank to leave mounds of dying and decaying plants to their own devices.  The thought that I might provide snug comfortable winter resting place for slugs just gives me the heebie jeebies!  Those slimy creatures makes my skin crawl.  I will NOT make life easy for them.  What about you, are you a chopper?  I like to think that by clearing everything away - it also makes life much easier for the birds as they forage for their winter food.

Cardoon flowers would provide amazing winter structure, don't you think?  Alas, those huge fleshy leaves will happily keep a slimy mass happy for months on end.  Whilst snails will indeed hibernate for winter, slugs are active all year round here in the UK in all but very dry, hot or extremely frosty weather.  


Please don't just take my word that some things in the garden are still looking good - see for yourself.  Join me as I take a walk around.

Around the Physocarpus - there are still a few blooms.  It's kind of obvious from this picture why I just can't bring myself to cut it right back at the moment
Physocarpus opulifolius Lady in Red

Alstroemeria, Monarda, Sedum, Salvia and a lonely little Anemone (September Charm)  in the bee border - just out of shot and certainly out of season a couple of Geums are flowering again

Geum Dingle Apricot and Geum Bell Bank
October 2013 
Up to the hot end of the garden - both clumps of the Persicaria are doing extremely well, for October, that is!  There are a few bees still flitting about and visiting these plants regularly.

Persicara amplexicaulis J C Caliente, a few remaining flowers of Helenium Moerheim Beauty
a lemon scented pelargonium and climbing Rose Warm Welcome  

At the back of the garden there lives a shrub I planted 3 years ago.  It took an age to settle in and has for the first time flowered for me.  Heptacodium miconioides is a rather non descript shrub for most of the year and frankly might prove rather awkward to flower unless we have a perfect year like we have had.  Any shrub producing scented flowers at this time of the year is extremely welcome, don't you think? The clyxes should turn red a remain for while.  It's common name is Seven Son flower tree and has been awarded an AGM by the RHS.
Heptacodium miconioides
Speaking of scent - I bagged this plant from my brother's garden, Actaea simplex - the varietal name is not known.  I just wish it's scent would waft around the garden. Despite my encouragement to keep labels, he never does.  It's possibly Pink Spike - I have A. Brunette growing but the foliage is ever so slightly different.  It is completely lost amongst the Sambucus foliage but come spring I will find it a new home.   

Actaea simplex Atropurpurea?
The reappearance of Clematis Josephine last month and her continual growth has not been hampered by the time of year
Clematis Josephine

The deep pink Aster (another labelless plant from my brother's garden) has comfortably moved itself completely under the Sambucus.  It's the least affected of the Asters with Powdery Mildew.

Still on the scented theme - my newest David Austin Rose - Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton has an incredibly scent.  One sniff of her fruity citrus scent and I couldn't help myself going back for more - sitting on the step of the deck, the drifts of her scent is amazing!  I'm so looking forward to her maturing to an old age in my garden.

The shadier side of the garden is too in reasonable condition give that we are now half way through October.

The Mahonia is not quite flowering yet and Acer palmatum Orange Dream showing no Autumn colour yet.  A close look and we see that the Astrantia are all flowering again..  Astrantia are very good at extending the season particularly if you are brave enough to cut the right down to the ground when they are just about to go over.

Astrantia major Roma

Astrantia Ruby Wedding

Astrantia Snow Star
Around the pond Ajuga repens Burgundy glow is looking great despite been thinned out a few weeks ago.  I'm not sure how long this plant will last in the garden but so long as I can keep it under control it can stay for now.  Note Hosta Devon Green smothered by some ferns, signs that the afore mentioned slug population is on the increase. 

My rescued pot of Rudbeckia is still flowering - I've ceased deadheading this week.  I will find this a home in the ground for winter.  They usually don't make it through winter here,  I can but try!

These are not the only daisy like flowers around at them moment.  I tried a little piece of Erigeron in a far shadier position than they would normally be happy with - flowering later that expected but flowering none the less. 
Erigeron formosissimus
Another bargain pot of dying perennials - the blooms on Leucanthemum Snow Lady.  These are supposed to be frost tender but I'll get them in the ground and provide a deep mulch in the hope that they survive the cold.
Leucanthemum x superbum Snow Lady
The little dwarf Aster in the front garden is sadly suffering powdery mildew - I really do wish I could find a spot in the garden where Asters don't succumb.  Any tips?

I wonder how many of us are well pleased with our October gardens this year - especially UK gardeners.  Last year and this year have been poles apart and 2013 has set the bench mark extremely high!

I am linking this post to May Dream Gardens Bloom Day meme. Thank you for joining me this October and please pop over to see what is happening in other gardens around the world.

The last picture of this post is a newest addition to my garden this autumn.  A late flowering Kniphofia which will probably prefer conditions in the front garden.  Be warned you may need your sunglasses - it's bright, very bright!  Yes, yes, I know - possible slug fodder!! 

Kniphofia Bee's Lemon