I managed to find a seed of an Erodium manescavii about to be released which I’ve included below, after mentioning the fantastic form of its seed in my last blog, and how the seed augurs its way into the ground courtesy of its pointed tip and attached tail which spirals round according to changes in humidity. There are even some flowers on it right now but the photo included was taken in May, so it really does give value for money in the garden throughout the summer and autumn – better than most Geranium species.
In the last week before the clocks change and we lose ‘summertime’, the landscape’s moisture laden condition often gives rise to dramatic mists and fogs here. Unfamiliar with the physics or meteorology of what is going on, I’m just inclined to enjoy these dramatic and fast changing displays around dawn. A wordsmith could do better; for me the sequence of images taken below at roughly 20 minute intervals will have to suffice.
Whilst the Saxifrage fortunei are still flowering full tilt, with several less vigorous cultivars now joining rubrifolia in flower, there are lots of single second flowers on plants this year, completely out of season – Welsh Poppy, Clematis montana, Bugle, to name but a few.
But it’s really the time of year to appreciate the plants whose leaves fade and change colour to give a final burst of interest before slipping into wintry dormancy. Over the years we’ve come to realise that like the cloud and mist scenes above, they are never the same 2 years running, and this year has overall been poor. But equally there are some trees and shrubs which even in this generally disappointing season still perform brilliantly. Of equal importance for the impact of a display is how long the leaves actually are retained on the tree or shrub.
As an example, Parrotia persica is a lovely fairly slow-growing tree, which we grew in both Bristol and here in west Wales. It always had the hint of greatness, but over more than 18 years experience in 2 places, it is let down by the fact that just as you think a real firework display is about to explode the leaves are lost, sequentially, along the branches.
In this regard where plants are planted relative to the prevailing winds is obviously critical but in its current well sheltered position the Welsh Parrotia is still a little disappointing.
By contrast Sorbus sargentiana consistently colours up dramatically, and retains leaves for long enough to be able to appreciate the display.
Liquidamber styraciflua does even better with some of the most dramatic leaf colour changes and also a display that starts in late September and has even now barely lost any leaves in spite of some very stormy conditions.
Many Cornus also seem to have dramatic consistent leaf colouring to add to the effect over the winter of coloured stems on the current year’s growth.
So a mix of some of these in the garden gives a real colour boost at a time when colour in the wider landscape is becoming more limited to the green, grey, brown palette with the sky taking over as a source of changing dramatic images.
By the end of October the last hard fruit have been picked. After the promise of all that sunny dry weather at blossom time, a generally dull summer has meant unspectacular crops of apples, disappointing pears and the usual issue with our one productive quince tree – most of the quince start to split towards the end of September. If you can pick them at this time then they doo seem to ripen reasonably off the tree. This year I missed this point, and so had considerable wastage. Like pears they seem to rot really quickly with discolouration spreading right the way round the outside of the fruit.
A decent crop of carrots for the first time this year after growing them in a Dumpy bag under fleece. The advice from most organic gardeners is that carrot flies hug the ground, so one would have thought that Dumpy Bags would provide an ideal solution. In fact I’m sceptical about this down here – perhaps the Welsh Carrot flies are fitter and stronger, and fly higher as a result. In any event the fleece helps create a warmer growing environment early on, but in spite of it’s use there were still some signs of fly larval damage to the roots, but I’m more than happy with the yield from the initially poor soil used to set up the Dumpy bag, and growing the carrots with no added fertiliser.
What I have done though this year for the first time is to create a root store in an outbuilding after being caught out with the severe and sudden onset of winter last November. With the added move of buying a set of winter tyres for the first time ever, it would be nice to be shown to have over reacted….. we shall see.
Finally, when does one start tidying up herbaceous plants? Again after last winter, I’ve already cut off most of the Hellebore leaves, since they’re underplanted with spring bulbs, especially snowdrops, and if we get heavy snowfall again then the chance might be lost. However in many areas of the garden this doesn’t leave bare soil since we grow a lot of Chrysoplenium davidianum, Brunnera macrophylla and Cornus canadensis which all seem to survive under the Hellebore foliage during the spring and summer, only to be revealed when the Hellebores get their autumnal trim.
And a final couple of photos of lingering summer before the clocks change and we start to settle into winter …
Our garden at Gelli opens for charity most of the year by appointment under the N.G.S. Please see our website for contact details www.thegardenimpressionists.co.uk