Gardeners of my generation with a fair bit of experience under the belt usually instantly recognise the better known plants, shrubs and trees which many of us have in the garden.
However there are a lot out there who are just getting in to gardening. How often do you spot a plant in someone’s garden and think I must have that, problem is if you do not know what the plant is, the task is almost impossible.
Well, yes it does take quite a long time to get enough information together to make you feel confident in your new hobby. Read as much about the subject as time will allow, and that plant that took your fancy, next time you see the gardener if you happen to be passing by, go up and ask what it is. We gardeners are generally approachable people who just love others to show interest.
Well anyway here is one shrub that at this time of year is just starting to come in to its own. Cornus (Dogwood) grown for their showy bracts, colourful Autumn foliage, but most of all for their brightly coloured winter shoots. Great in the mixed border, or as a waterside plant.
Cornus Alba Sibirica, grows to around six feet tall, has red Autumn leaves, small white flowers in early summer, and the stems in winter are a bright crimson. Dogwood like a moist position in full sun to get the best colour from the stems. Don’t prune the first year this will allow your shrub to establish, thereafter cut back hard each April to just about three inches from ground level.
Erythroniums (Dog Tooth Lilies) just have to be one of the most perfect of plants for a woodland setting Producing nodding, lily-like blooms on slender stems in the spring, in fact they will flower well in any semi shaded situation the bronze or mahogany patterns on their foliage herald the approaching season even before the flowers appear.The common name dog tooth is a reference to the shape of the bulbs.
Erythroniums will spread into large colonies where they will form a lovely naturalized ground cover before many other plants hit their early season stride.
The hardiest variety is Pagoda, each flower stem carries several yellow flowers in late Spring. Look out for this one next Spring, best with pot grown plants.
One very special Perennial which I am surprised that I have not mentioned before, is Meconopsis (Blue Poppy). Quite a number of varieties, the one which I am particularly fond of is, Sheldonii Lingholm. Flowers May/June-Height 70/90cm nodding blooms of the purest blue. Described as a short lived Perennial, although I find in the cooler north east of the country it survives many years.
Divide plants every three years to encourage regeneration.
Talking of dividing Perennials, I have always been an advocate of carrying this out in the Autumn, this seems to be the time of year when I have the most success.
However there are some Perennials where it is safer to divide in Spring, plants that tend to start making growth in the Autumn. You know the ones where you cut back the dead foliage in Autumn and already find fresh shoots emerging, like some of the Asters for instance.
It is possible that if you were to split these at this time of year they may struggle to get through the Winter.
This morning I just divided the Cimicifuga beside the garden pondÂ which had grown enormous, just sliced it in half and planted a large part of the plant in the round garden where it can be enjoyed next year.
Meconopsis Sheldonii Lingholm
The container grown Agapanthus, which although flowering well this year have become root bound. I repotted them this afternoon which next year may reduce the amount of flower heads, nevertheless something that just has to be done.
Agapanthus are not fully hardy in this country, but still do well in containers. They all have strap like leaves with flower spikes 50/90cm. The hardiest are fully deciduous whilst others are evergreen, they are all best over wintered in the greenhouse.
Those fully deciduous should not be watered until spring, as the roots tend to rot otherwise, evergreen varieties should be lightly watered in winter.
I find that if left in the greenhouse after late May they will not flower as well. In late Spring place your containers in a sunny position and water well and often, good drainage is essential. Agapanthus come in shades of pale blue right through to a dark rich blue, others of a pure white. Bressingham Blue is one of the dependable fully deciduous varieties,60/75cm tall, dark blue flowers.
Friday morning, up early, a quick look around to see if the severe winds of last night had caused any damage.
All looks well except for the expected tons of leaves lying everywhere.
Stood for a while watching a Wren foraging in the border in amongst the hedging. The wildlife in the garden gives me as much pleasure as the plants do. Check out this brilliant bird website, an award should be forthcoming for this one http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/home.shtml
Evening newspaper has just come in, a lot of destruction in the city and surrounding area. Also very sadly, report of a fishing vessel missing in the North Sea.
Hope you covered that garden pond with netting, it doesn’t take much to imagine the damage caused by rotting leaves, which could well finish off your goldfish with the poisonous toxins released in the water.
Spent an hour or so before the rain started clearing up those leaves. Leaves lying on a woodland floor are fine, gradually adding nutrients which is beneficial to the well being of the trees. However in a garden setting they can cause damage, especially on the lawn, where leaves if left for any length of time will cause damage to the grass. Rake them up, sweep them, or get out the garden vac.
Also you can become environmentally friendly and compost the fallen leaves. Word of warning though, they take a hell of a time to rot down.
Wren (Permision of David Gains)