Seasonal shades

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A David Austin rose at dawn. After a dormant period in late summer, all the roses are coming back into flower for a late autumn display!

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Well, it’s been quite a growing season here in South-East Scotland.

A spring, albeit late, free of severe frosts.

A summer, predominantly dry with plentiful sunshine and real warmth.

And an autumn, still continuing (just!), warm with reasonable sunshine and plenty moisture, which means that the garden is still looking quite good. One or two seasonal snaps for you, then, taken in the last couple of weeks, including, I’m afraid, yet more of the ‘Bishops’ Children’ whose colours are intense and a real pick-me-up on those duller autumn days! Their days. I fear, may though be numbered as the mercury has somewhat dipped these past few nights…

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Dahlia ‘Bishops Children’, with Verbena bonariensis in the background underplanted by the fresh green of self-sowing poppies

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Some Hostas put on a better autumn show than others; sadly it is very fleeting! This one is Hosta ‘Mr Big’

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The Nerines, transplanted a couple of year’s ago from my Uncle’s garden, have this year put on an excellent show

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the wonderfully-architectural Onopordon, the Giant Thistle, with seed heads aplenty (with some saved for the next display some two year’s hence)

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one of the Hybrid Teas, back in bloom after their summer rest, with the dark-leaved Acer in the background

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Much beloved by the blackbirds, a Cotoneaster in full berry, with the leaves just starting to turn

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African Marigold, seemingly very at home in a Scottish autumn!

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a Lupin in its second flush. We cut them back in July after the first flowering which very often brings a second autumnal flush.

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Year 2 of the ‘Musselburgh’ leeks; we couldn’t eat them all last winter, so left them in the ground for ornamental flowering this year. These have put on an excellent, and very long-lasting show, and are well worth growing just for the wonderful globe seed-heads!

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Midsummer makeover

20130728-193733.jpgThis past week has seen a change in the weather, still warm but thundery downpours have appeared on the scene. Good news for the garden as no need now for supplementary watering. I’m waiting for a barrage of previously dormant weed seedlings however!

This week  we’ve been giving the garden a mid-season makeover, hence a rather longer post than usual.

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Making hay…with the sunflowers in the background and the giant thistle to their left

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Giant Thistle (Onopordum acantheum

The new grass areas in the walled garden whose seed heads gave us that rippling velvet effect earlier in May have now been strimmed down and the hay cleared; the rain and wind had flattened it so it was time to clear it. From now on until the end of the growing season, we’ll mow it short like the rest of the grass in the walled garden. We’ve left two long drifts of long grass under the old apple trees though as the wild flowers we planted there are still flowering and we want to give them a chance of setting seed.  Some of the hay is now drying under the staging in the greenhouse; it will be appreciated by the hens and the elderly resident in the greenhouse when dry.

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the first of the Dahlias

20130728-193836.jpgThe dahlias, cosmos, and mesembryanthemums underplanting the roses have  been enjoying the sun and this has started them into bloom so we’ve been keeping the hoe going around them to keep them tidy. The sweet peas too have been excellent, although shorter-stemmed this year- we can pretty much pick a vase-full a day at the moment and indeed we need to otherwise they will stop flowering!

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Cosmos

The other annuals we’ve given their own bed to are the younger son’s giant sunflowers which at around 4 feet at present are not particularly giant but they are very stocky which means they won’t be subject to wind- blow. They’ve been lapping up the sun, they’ve starred to flower and I’m pretty sure they’ll put on a great show – one flower that can’t help make you smile! Not bad for a small bag of parrot seed…

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The area I’m most pleased to have got under control is the shade border as that had become somewhat overrun with our old favourite- willow herb and creeping buttercup, I was a bit concerned that it might suffer during the dry spell – particularly the damp-loving Ferns ( including Shuttlecock and Royal ferns), the Candelabra primulas and the Ligularia, but this border lives in almost total shade of a high wall with no overhanging trees; it locks in whatever rain falls like a giant swampy sponge and all plants sailed through, although I did give a can- full to the Ligularia as it is in full bloom at the moment and did look a little stressed.

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In the greenhouse, everything that doesn’t answer to the name of tomato has been moved outside for a break in the sun, including the perennials which we have still to plant in the  new west-facing bed; this area has now been sprayed with glyphosate to clean the ground of perennial weeds, ready for planting in 2-3 weeks’ time.

We’ve been selectively spraying glyphosate in the woodland too – just nettles this time. We started this spraying programme last spring as the whole area was overcome with nettles making it virtually impenetrable to humans as well as stifling the other plants that were attempting to grow. Most of the wood is now clear and we’ll only need to spray occasionally, just to get rid of nettle seedlings. So far we’ve only planted new rhododendrons into this area but I’m keen to plant it with some woodland perennials too if we can get the ground clean enough.

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Hosta

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Nymphea Colonel AJ Welch

 And finally, proof that plants can  pick up the internet! In a recent post, I was bemoaning the fact that my yellow waterlily never flowered and that I would probably be replacing it. No sooner had I written this this that not only the original plant but also it’s rather annoying and similarly useless progeny,replanted at the other end of the pond courtesy of one of the gardening ducks, decided to revolt by each producing not one but two splendid canary yellow blooms! The compost heap grim-reaper no longer beckons!

P.s while on pond matters, large blue 3 inch dragonfly spotted hovering over the pond this past week. These almost prehistoric insects fill me with awe; we have nothing else like them in Scotland, closely resembling a mini helicopter. Sheer magic!

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Of Golden rain and Granny’s bonnets

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Laburnum vossi

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the giant thistle, Onopordum acantheum, still a baby, with Verbascum in the foreground

A week of high pressure, sunshine and warmth has really pushed the garden on. Indeed, this has been a weekend of watering to ensure that the sunflowers, new herbaceous, sweet peas and transplanted polyanthus don’t suffer a check. In previous years, we’ve found that the sweet peas can often suffer quite a check in growth once planted out. This year, we germinated the seed much later and as soon as they were ready to go out (early May), we planted them out. No yellowing leaves, no check – something to note for next year – don’t be in too much of a hurry to plant them in the spring!

20130609-172034.jpgThis weekend, we have started to plant out the Dahlias – between the two teacup yews in the walled garden and round in the ‘kitchen garden’, the air of which is now filled with the scent of the white lilac.The dahlias should provide a welcome blast of strong colour right through until the first frosts. As well as a dwarf variety, we are also growing Bishops Children again with its lovely dark-red foliage, a perfect foil for the almost tropical-coloured blooms. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get the other bedding planted out; for the moment, it can stay cosseted in the greenhouse, with a weekly feed of Phostrogen to keep it moving.

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Tree peony in the woodland (species not known)

The rhododendrons in the woodland this year have been marvellous and just keep on coming – a positive legacy 20130609-171910.jpgfrom last summer’s washout! With them the focus of attention at the moment, I nearly missed the tree peony flowering there – unlike the yellow Ludlowii which seeds itself in the walled garden, this one is a more modest size and a has a rather old-fashioned, poppy-shaped, dark red flower.

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the east-facing border, with Perennial cornflower (Centaurea Montana) and Heuchera in the foreground

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lupins in the south-facing border – quite a spectacle!

As the days go on, the herbaceous starts to change from green to technicolour – irises, geraniums, blue perennial cornflower, lupins in all shades, to name but a few, but my favourite are the Granny’s Bonnets – aquilegia,

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Aquilegia, ‘Granny’s Bonnets’, surely one of the most diverse cottage-garden perennials

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a contrast of golden and dark-purple acers (Crimson King) growing in the policies near the pond. The deciduous trees at this time of the year are at their best.

which we grew from seed a couple of years ago and which are themselves now starting to set seed. Each clump offers a different colour combination – some blowsy, some quite unassuming – all very beautiful.

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Laburnum vossi

Finally, our Laburnum, now freed from the deep shade caused by a tall holly,  is in full blossom now – a cascade of golden rain – surely one of the most beautiful early summer trees.

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the south-facing border looking east, with Aquilegia in the foreground, Verbascum and lupins in the distance