Thursday, November 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day November 2012

Another 15th of the month and another blog entry in the Garden Bloggers' Bloom day series.  It being mid November at 50degrees north there aren't a lot of flowers around in the garden.  But there are a few, some holdovers from summer, some flowering for the first time this year and in their season.

Newly in flower since last month is a quintet of plants that rarely disappoint at this time of year.  Jasminium nudiflorum, the yellow flowered Winter jasmine offers bright colour just as everything else seems to fade.  Last year it flowered early.  This year it's back to a more normal sequence, beginning at the start of November.  It's a lax shrub, usually grown against a wall and tied into a support - the way I grow it - but it can also be used as a low, ground covering scrambler.  I still remember a visit to the old cliff gardens in Torquay one winter's day in the early 80's when this plant spread a yellow carpet across and down large areas of the garden.

Jasminium nudiflorum

A true climber, Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles' can flower intermittently for most of the year but really starts to get into its stride as the days shorten.  I've mentioned this one before, hardly surprisingly as it does have such a long period, but its worth noting that its the only Clematis that I have no difficulty with.  I've grown a fair few over the years and they've all succumbed.  It may be my acid soil or, more likely, my rapacious gastropods but they do not prosper here.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'

Fatsia japonica I grow as a large leaved, exotic looking shrub, not for its flowers.  But you can't miss them in November.  Pompom heads of pure white flowers that open to provide an abundant nectar source at a time of year when little else is in flower.  Even though the weather is getting colder there are still flies, hoverflies and even the odd red admiral butterfly on the wing during the warmer days and this - and the closely related ivy - provide sustenance.

Fatsia japonica flower heads
My fourth newcomer is more exotic.  Hedychium greenii, the most tropical looking of the relatively hardy ginger lilies.  Upright pseudostems with glossy green, maroon backed leaves would be worth a place in the garden even it never flowered.  Some years it doesn't, leaving bud formation so late that they're caught by frost before they open.  This year looks a bit less dodgy.  I've a few stems with buds ready to pop and no frost forecast for a week.  Having said that I wasn't even sure if I should include it as the first bud was due to open this morning but got eaten.  No matter, here's a shot from warmer years.

Hedychium greenii
Final flower amongst the new sprung winter set is Rosemary, Rosemarinus officianalis.  We have a plant outside the back door so I can pick fresh growth for cooking.  It's old, straggly - and flowers on and off through the winter.  Individually, the flowers are quite fascinating, but very small.  The shot below was taken at 1:1 (life size on the sensor) macro ratio and even two flowers don't quite fill the frame.  If you look closely there is even a little springtail insect on the right hand flower.

Rosemary in flower
I still have many of the earlier, summer flowers producing a display.  Passiflora caerulea is twining up the now leafless cherry, Abutilons 'Waltz' and 'Patrick Synge' continue to throw out their dangling bells, my fuchsias won't stop flowering till frost hits, Hydrangea 'Mme Emile Mouillere' is still producing white mopheads on the newest growth, and I've a couple of pelargoniums and petunias bravely defying the ever cooling nights to add a little colour.  But winter is fast approaching and their flowering days are numbered.  But in the meantime the true winter flowerers - my camellias, mahonia, Iris unguicularis, hellebores and others are showing signs that their display will brighten the darker days.  But more of that in December's Garden Bloggers Blooms Day.

As always, my thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.  Head over there to see what's flowering in many more gardens round the world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seeing Red

I only have one plant in the garden with consistent autumn colour.  A few others make half hearted attempts as the year dies but only Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' really goes to town with its display.  Here it is:

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' autumn colour

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' autumn colour - looking up into the canopy

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' autumn colour - another view
It's been in the ground for 12 years now, bought as a tiny sapling.  In recent years I've had to raise its skirts, removing the lower branches to allow light in to the shade beds underneath.  All year it's elegant - but the final display as pigments are removed from the dark red leaves before leaf fall and winter is always the best.  Fortunately we've had little wind and the leaves have not been stripped. Looking at the forecasts I should enjoy it for a few days more before bare branches herald the true arrival of winter.  Today, when I took the shots, was cloudy.  Tomorrow should be sunny and the light should make the colours even more intense.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A final flourish

Winter, to judge by recent temperatures, is well on its way.  No frost in the garden yet - though there was a little bit on the open field that occupies part of the dog's morning walk.  But it will gradually deteriorate.  I'm in the process of bringing in my shade house plants for winter storage on available windowsills and the bananas and other tender plants will need lifting and storing or protecting in situ.  More of that in later blogs but, in the meantime, my pot grown plant of Brugmansia 'Apricot' is winding up for a final flourish.

Brugmansia 'Apricot'
The latest flush of buds have been lengthening and swelling for a couple of weeks now, ignoring cooling nights as they would in their Andean homeland.  It's not a large plant, pot grown from an overwintered cutting, so six flowers at once is the best result I've had all year - even if they haven't all opened.  Up to now it's been one or two flowers at a time but the plant has grown and matured through the summer and is now capable of producing more.  I'd prefer the display earlier in the year when nights are warmer and the perfume can fill a garden on windless evenings, but for that I'll need to overwinter this one successfully to give the plant a chance to flower freely at an earlier date.  A spot in the shed has already been earmarked.  I'll let the first mild frost defoliate the plant and then store it dry and cool till March next year.  Unfortunately the top growth isn't frost hardy.  With some protection the roots can survive and new growth arise with the return of spring but recovery is slow and usually prevented by slugs and snails.  Even in growth they're a problem - as evidenced by the holes in the leaves on the photos.  How the local snails cope when the leaves contain a rather potent alkaloid hallucinogen I've no idea - but it might explain their ability to reach even the highest spots of vegetation in the garden.  Definitely not for human consumption - though there are always some daft enough to try.

Brugmansia 'Apricot' - a closer view
Mine will never get to the tree like dimensions of those in even marginally warmer climates simply because I don't have the space to store them over winter.  A shame.  Large plants in full flower are spectacular.  Big, dangling blooms which run the colour range from white, through cream and yellow to pink and even red.  And, unless you grow the scentless Brugmansia sanguineum, possessed of a fabulous perfume that wafts after 4 o'clock in the afternoon to lure the moths that are their natural pollinators.  All they ask in return is rich soil, good feeding and plenty of water when in active growth.