Wet Wet Wet
WordPress tells me I’ve used this post title twice.
Water pours out of the gully taking run off from the Precipitous Bank.
The photo wasn’t deliberately taken in black and white, it just turned out that way. Too many days recently have been like this and it’s not just the garden that is suffering. Inside the house the new plaster needs to dry, a process which has slowed significantly with the onset of autumn if not been slammed into reverse. And until it is properly dry no decorating can be done. The dehumidifiers are back.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact if the photographer spins around 180 degrees on that very same spot the view couldn’t be more different:
Acer palmatum ‘Ozakazuki’
This is allegedly the most vibrant of all the Japanese maples and who could disagree. This year it is spectacular. It’s been touch and go. ‘Ozakazuki’ lost its leading shoot many years ago and as a result, perhaps not unlike its owner, it has tended toward the short and wide. It’s a characteristic which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Himself. A tree could be acknowledged as the most aesthetically appealing specimen on the planet but this will mean nothing if its branches should dare to impede his progress down the path.
And so, back at the beginning of the year, I finally succumbed to the pressure and Ozakazuki met with its inevitable destiny and an appointment with the loppers. Her circumference was reduced and, to retain proportion, her skirts were lifted. I have to admit, I was pleased with the overall effect not least because the elegant structure of the trunk and lower branches has now been revealed. But oh, did she bleed. It’s a characteristic of acers apparently and pruning, if it’s necessary to carry it out at all, should always be done when the tree is dormant. Even so, even in January, I worried that I might have gone too far.
Acer palmatum ‘Ozakazuki’
The tree came into leaf late in Spring, somewhat thinly at first, and she’s produced more seeds than I’ve ever seen before. I hope this isn’t a sign of imminent disaster. There might be fewer grumbles from certain quarters but I would still hate to lose this tree. It looks healthy enough for now. Time will tell.
In the greenhouse, protected from the strong winds that have also featured of late, mini me… the bonsai maple.
It may seem a strange time of year to be reconnecting with the garden, but this is what has happened. With so much else going on over the last six or seven months it has been neglected more than ever before.
A long look back down the Precipitous Bank
Bold stands of autumn colour punch through the backdrop of weeds. Double the work next year. Hey ho.
Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Emerald Lace’
While most of the roses have succumbed to the rain ‘Desdemona’ is still going strong. She was the first to bloom in late Spring and is now the last to expire in autumn. Conveniently situated close to the house it’s been easy enough to snip off the dead heads on the rare occasion the secateurs have passed this way and as a result she’s been in bloom virtually continuously for the last five months. A touch of blackspot now, almost impossible to avoid down here, but a real do-er nonetheless. And she easily carries away the chez duck trophy for the rose with the strongest scent. What’s not to love?
Since we moved here I’ve been working hard to build up the garden’s late season interest. Here’s a few more of the plants creating an impact right now:
Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’
A new entry to the garden just a month or so ago and such a worthy punch of colour that I’ve already purchased and germinated a pack of seeds as insurance. A short lived perennial it grows fairly tall (to 1m) and has a tendency to be leggy, especially towards the end of the season, so it’s best to plant it middle to back of a deep border. ‘Prairie Glow’ would work particularly well with grasses and will be perfect here on the Oudolf inspired Precipitous Bank.
Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Little Henry’
The unusual tubular petals on this one, and its leisurely build up to blooming, make it another gem for early November. ‘Little Henry’ is the dwarf version of Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ but it’s still by no means small. It easily reaches 1m in height here in Devon. Watch out for the evil Spring mollusc though..
Persicaria ‘Black Field’
I don’t know what I’d do without persicaria. ‘Black Field’ is the last of them to come into bloom but, the payback, it’s also the last to go. From just one plant it has spread into a significant drift of glorious weed suppressing colour right where I need it most.
Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
This gardener’s first grevillea. ‘Canberra Gem’ is reputedly the hardiest for a cool wet climate but that doesn’t appear to stop it feeling confused. Now is presumably the time it would be blooming in its native Australia. But in Devon? I shall be glued to the weather forecast for any sign of the much touted ‘Beast From The East 2’, coming shortly to a county near you if you reside in the UK. Allegedly. Although I have to admit it is now getting a tad chilly out there. When established ‘Canberra Gem’ should be hardy down to -5C. This is but a baby. It is appropriately nestled in a nursery bed ready to be forked up, dropped in a pot and whisked off into the greenhouse before Jack Frost can unfurl a single icy finger.
A painterly NoID Hydrangea, changing from pink to blue as it acclimatises to its new home in the woodland edge.
And it’s not just about the blooms, some hydrangeas display spectacular autumn leaf colour as well. This is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Wim’s Red’.
Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’
And let’s not forget the seedheads.
Phlomis russeliana will continue providing structure well into winter. Or at least it will until the first serious gale given that the gardener, in her infinite wisdom, chose to plonk it on the side of an exposed hill. Fortunately it spreads generously and is ready to divide. I shall offer it more consideration next time. Another job for the lengthening Spring list.
Things may be visibly winding down. But don’t look at it as the end of the gardening season. Think of it as the beginning of the next. A time of renewal for the garden and the gardener alike. Time to research and to plan, to make provision for seed sowing and planting as soon as the weather allows, for an even more spectacular garden by the time next summer comes around.
For me, this year especially, it makes absolute sense.