Just Passing..

Anemone x hybrida 'September Charm'


Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm’


Start of autumn this weekend. Where did the summer go?

It’s been a strange one this year. On Facebook the other day I was bemoaning to a friend the absence of any garden visits this year. Not a single one. An occasional plant fair but with no time to linger. No, the primary objective for any trip out these days has been the sourcing of building stuff. It’ll be worth it in the long run, of course it will, but there is no doubt that this summer has rather passed me by. The trouble with living in deepest darkest Devon is that it’s such a long way from anywhere else. That is of course one of the main reasons we chose to live here. There are distinct advantages to being far from the madding crowd. Until, that is, one starts to engage with large projects. And the more specialist the ‘stuff’ required the greater the number of road miles needed to find it.



The Precipitous Bank

Reaching the peak of its late summer splendour, with minimal assistance from the Gardener.


It’s been our habit over the years to sweeten the pill of journeys to distant corners of the Isle by locating a suitable hostelry en route. If I can get my act together this can be planned in advance, saving on the time and all the faffing about involved in trying to find a half decent pub in an unfamiliar town once the stomach has already started to rumble. Trip Advisor reviews are sought. Postcodes for sat nav and phone numbers are obtained and recorded and sometimes, heaven forbid, a forward booking for lunch may even have been made.

But could it be that I’ve been missing out on an even better sugar-coated opportunity?




Hydrangea NoID

It’s almost reached full blue. Every year since I moved it the blue tones have been stronger. Funny to think it used to be lipstick pink.


One of our longest trips of the summer, to Basingstoke in Hampshire, to see a greenhouse, as you do, took us through the very lovely county of Somerset. A brown signpost flashed past at the side of the road. (Or to be more accurate we flashed past it, since Mike was doing the driving at the time.)  ‘East Lambrook Manor Gardens’. Now this rather rang a bell as an immediate google search confirmed: an English Heritage Grade 1 listed garden created by the celebrated 20th century plantswoman, Margery Fish. Not that we had time to do justice to the garden sadly, it was already late afternoon. A quick pop in to the plant centre though.. it really would be rude not to, wouldn’t it, considering we were passing?

There followed a discussion between Himself and I as to what constitutes ‘passing’. He would have it that a direct line of sight to the entrance is a necessary requirement. You and I will know that there is far more to it than that. Even when you’ve dallied a few moments exploring the possibilities down the rabbit hole of the internet, acquired the plant centre’s postcode and entered it quickly into google maps, only to find that it is now 14 minutes to get back. My cause critically undermined by the need to maintain the original direction of travel for quite some distance until a roundabout on the dual carriageway provided an opportunity to turn the car around.. a point not lost on the occupant of the driving seat and offered up as the principal argument in his defence. But still, a 14 minute detour. That’s nothing really is it? Not when you look at it in the context of the whole seven hour round trip?



Tulbaghia montana

And especially for a little gem like this? Not to mention an exceptionally healthy seedling of Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ for less than four pounds, two heleniums, assorted geraniums, two grasses and a rather tasty sanguisorba? It’s kind of got me thinking that maybe a lunch stop isn’t the only thing I should be planning in advance. Imagine, with the deployment of a little creative navigation wouldn’t there be all manner of select nurseries we could just happen to be passing?



Turning the shed upside down in the hunt for something or other a few months back I turned up an old wire basket with a dozen small terracotta pots. I’ve since started collecting an alpine a month in the hope that I can keep the basket going with something of interest all year. It could get more difficult as we move into autumn. But we shall see.


Banksia blechnifolia


Banksia blechnifolia

With serious gardening rather hit and miss this summer, quite a few of my most recent acquisitions have been curiosities which will most likely stay in a container. Banksia blechnifolia hails from Western Australia. It was love at first sight for the foliage alone. It is able to withstand temperatures down to -5C but its main enemy here in Devon will be the winter wet.


Banksia blechnifolia


Banksia blechnifolia

The reverse sides of the young leaves are deliciously furry, reminiscent of deer antlers, fur which it appears to shed as the leaf matures. The plant doesn’t reach a great height, maybe a foot or so, as the stems tend to travel prostrate along the ground. Next year it may need a wider pot but I shall worry about that after I’ve got it through the upcoming winter! A mature plant produces the conical flowers typical of banksia and these also sit at ground level. You can see an example of the very quirky B. blechnifolia in bloom from fellow blogger Jane in Mudgee (here) who wrote about it on precisely the same day I purchased mine, a coincidence stretching half way around the world.


Banksia blechnifolia


Not just me smitten by the banksia’s charm.


Solanum pyracanthum


And now for something completely different.. Solanum pyracanthum

Ouch. Yes, they’re sharp!


Solanum pyracanthum


Solanum pyracanthum is a relative of the tomato, as you can perhaps see from the blooms, and it comes from Madagascar. Another one for greenhouse protection over winter. The Porcupine Tomato or Devil’s Thorn even produces tomato like fruits but these and all parts of the plant are highly toxic. Unsurprisingly it is listed as deer resistant! No doubt the bunnies and the slugs will still have a go.


Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'


Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. A reliable and shining beacon through the softer light and shorter days of Autumn.


This weekend there are paving slabs to find.

Two stone suppliers immediately spring to mind and there’s a smashing place for lunch just a stone’s throw from one of them. So if you’ll excuse me I must go and find a plant nursery and plot the route..


Linking to Sarah (here) for a delightful peek Through The Garden Gate.