Last day of October

Salvia Guanajuato

Salvia Guanajuato with bee bum

After a foggy start this morning the sun is out, although there is a faint mistiness as I look across the field. It’s 16C mid afternoon. A huge streamer of spider’s web metres long gilded by the sun glides slowly westwards.  The tick and rattle of falling leaves is loud in the stillness, the ash and chestnut are nearly all done with shedding.

On the wing

An intermittent chack of jackdaws watching the chicken run for food and occasional burst of rook banter livens up the soundscape.  In amongst this the insistent calls of Long Tailed Tits and short bursts of Great Tit ratatat. Earlier the plaintive cry of a swirling Buzzard.

I’m waiting for the Fieldfares to turn up and feast on the fallen cooking apples (the fat Bramleys create a bit of aural drama as they clatter through the branches and thump to the ground). Continue reading

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It’s all over now

ipomea-bona-nox

The final night flowerer attempting to open on a cold October evening, this is as far as Ipomea Bona Nox got, sadly it didn’t have the energy to fully open. It may look a lot like your common or garden pestilential convolvulvus at first glance but isn’t. It’s been in the greenhouse since May, slowly building up its buds but it’s too late in the year now. Perhaps we’ll have a better summer next year. Continue reading

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West Dean Gardens – hot house delights

West Dean Gardens GlasshouseI have been to West Dean Gardens in Sussex before but a long while ago and I didn’t remember the glasshouses or cutting garden particularly. This Monday the sun shone, the greenhouses stood to attention, neat and tidy, spic and span. There’s obviously care and pride at work here.

Glasshouses were filled with an abundance of tender bedding plants, the Cuphea ‘Tiny Mice’ in particular absolutely humming with bees. Continue reading

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Not so gladdy

Gladioli

This rogue gladdy appeared in a batch of Mirella

I’ve developed a soft spot for gladioli over the years, both for exuberance and for their later summer flowering, but they can be somewhat trying for a mere amateur! The tawny bed is home to two primulinus hybrids bought years ago from Bob Brown, Hastings and Mrs M Rowley. Hastings, a sandy orange is increasing nicely, Mrs M Rowley is a rich claret but less floriferous. Being primulinus they are small flowered and therefore less vulnerable to wind and rain. They also fit better generally into a ‘soft’ herbaceous planting. Continue reading

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Veddw – a garden of light and shade

Veddw House Garden

Stones record the shifting of names for the place over the centuries.

Yesterday, on a sunny day with a fractious swirling wind we visited Veddw House Garden in Monmouthshire.  We had been meaning to for a while now. I might have been expecting formal herbaceous plantings in amongst the clipped hedge rooms, there weren’t any. I had to adjust my focus to better appreciate this garden.

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Let’s hear it for the humble nasturtium

nasturtium-aug1

Nasturtium (Tropeaolum majus) are fabulous fillers this time of year, still looking fresh until the Cabbage White caterpillars do their thing (big round of egg laying going on for the past couple of weeks), and then another flush of leaves and flowers in early autumn. Sadly the butterflies don’t distinguish between the common and my more unusual doubles, Darjeeling Gold and Margaret Long. Continue reading

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A Queen of the Night flowers

Selenicereus - Queen of the NIght cactus

Selenicereus – Queen of the NIght cactus

The bud has been forming for a few months, starting as a small brown furry nub. In the run up to flowering a tiny bead of nectar sat under the tip of the beaky bud. Yesterday at around 5:00pm the first strap of the outer bud loosened and by 10:22pm she was fully open.

Even when the bud was closed yesterday there was a subtle scent, almost primrosy, the fully open flower scent was not as expected but sweet and greeney with a touch of cocoa. Today all is over, a brief burst of glory overnight. Sadly whether pollinated by bats or moths its only companion last night was a stray Green Veined White butterfly. Continue reading

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Lost in the gardens of Heligan

The Jungle at Heligan

We almost (but not quite) had The Lost Gardens of Heligan to ourselves one very rainy early May day. It was my first visit and on such a day the crowds for the most part were either taking shelter in the cafes or jumping into cars and moving on to sunnier places.

Having thought it would be ‘pants’ the jungle was lovely, we only met 3 other people on the walkways,  the misting rain and intimate scale of the planting made it very special. Continue reading

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A blustery summer’s day

Pelargonium Marchioness of Bute

Pelargonium Marchioness of Bute

We’ve had restless blustery winds for 3 or 4 days now, the seeds from the birch trees are still swirling into the house through doorways and windows.

We’re part-way through my pelargonium and fuchsia year (I mainly forswore dahlias this year but loads made it through the winter in the ground anyway!). Both pelargoniums and fuchsias have yet to fully hit their stride. Continue reading

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A gloomy end to June

Philadelphus Casa Azul

Philadelphus Casa Azul

This wet weather is bringing more slugs and snails out, I can’t remember them being so bad last year. Plants are collapsing or disappearing overnight.

Birds stripped every single strawberry, ripe or not within a day, next year I will protect them.

The old roses are balling, what a waste of heavy headed pale pink Juno, Blanche Fleur and Boule de Neige. Continue reading

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