Ten Months on…

021

Dawn backlighting our Silver Birch

Season’s Greetings!

010

Frost animates the seedheads of the Phlomis

Ten months have elapsed since I last filed a report. A growing season has passed.

However, while my posts may have faltered, the Garden has continued to flourish. A fortnight’s annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period, coupled with the seasonal norm of numerous hours of darkness, have afforded me the luxury of providing an update on some of the things that have been happening this year here in our corner of South East Scotland.

Over the next couple of weeks, then, a short series highlighting some of the happenings from the Scottish Country Garden 2014.

019

A rose for Christmas Day!

Advertisements

All change

20131111-191403.jpg

Acer atropurpureum (autumn colouring)

Autumn has finally bared her white, sparkling teeth. Last week finally saw the arrival of our first frosts.

20131111-191548.jpg

The cheerful Bishops’ Children (Dahlias) have bade their farewells, for the cold they cannot cope with. Many of the late-flowering perennials too have succumbed. Not much colour remains in the herbaceous borders but there is still some structure and we shall leave what’s there until it looks unsightly.

20131111-191452.jpg

Oak

20131111-191505.jpg

Beech

The sharp frosts will hasten what has been a very slow leaf-fall. The oaks, limes and beech here still have good heads of leaves, but for not much longer, I suspect.

20131111-191420.jpg

Acer (close-up)

This Acer atropurpureum, sheltered in the north-west corner of the walled garden is just at its best, its dark leaves intensifying to more firey shades.

And so, the garden starts to prepare for winter…

20131111-191526.jpg

Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the Dawn Redwood, autumn colour

20131111-191607.jpg

frosted Phlomis seed-head

20131111-191704.jpg

the Larch trees, sheltering the Walled Garden to the north

The week the mercury touched 30

20130712-175449.jpg

20130712-175505.jpg

the first of the Hybrid Tea roses with Phlomis in the background

20130712-204407.jpg

Sweet Pea

20130712-175515.jpg

Yellow-flowering Iris, Delphinium and Lysimachia (Garden Loosestrife)

For the last 10 days, a period of high pressure has hung over south east Scotland. I don’t ever remember it being so warm, certainly not for the 10 years we’ve been here. The temperatures have been up in the mid 20’s and a couple of evenings ago it reached 30 degrees. And it’s set to continue for another week at least. Certainly making up for last summer!

20130712-175638.jpg

Canterbury Bells

This warm dry weather should help the butterflies; they need all the help they can get and very few were in evidence last year. When out for my early morning walk with the trusty hound this morning, I came across a group of them (not sure what the collective noun is for butterflies – a flight, or a flutter, perhaps) in a sunlit clearing – small black-brown butterflies with a lighter coloured rim edging the underside of their wings – Meadow Browns, I think.

August’s usually a good month for butterflies here, particularly Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Ladies and Red Admirals so we’ll see what the buddleias attract when they come into flower.

20130712-175539.jpg

Delphinium

20130712-175648.jpg

Achillea flower bract

20130712-175628.jpg

Lychnis

The dry weather has meant dry soil, so much of the time has been spent watering the recently planted bedding and herbaceous. For those plants in the borders, once a week’s enough, but the pots have needed a watering every couple of nights.

20130712-175550.jpgStill, less rain has meant fewer weeds, and for that I’m grateful, although in the shady, north-facing border there is much to be done as the creeping buttercup has, well, crept over much of the earth, so this is the current project. When I’ve tidied it up, I’ll do a post as it’s quite colourful at the moment.

The grass growth too has slowed, which means faster cutting with less box-empties!

20130712-204330.jpg

Climbing rose “New Dawn”

The plants are really enjoying our tropical weather with the roses coming into bloom, including the first of our new David Austin roses that we planted in the spring. The herbaceous continues to flourish, although the bedding is starting to come into bloom as competition! The first of the dahlias and mesembryanthemums are starting to flower, so that will be them until the first frosts in October or maybe November if we’re lucky.

In the pond, the water lilies have all come into bloom too, but we’ll leave that for a future post.

20130712-204353.jpg

our ‘functional’ sweet pea frame!

20130712-175602.jpg

Herb garden corner. The rocket has gone to seed, but it has rather attractive flowers, popular with an elderly garden resident

20130712-175616.jpg

the east end of the south-facing border, with Feverfew (Pyrethrum), golden and green, taking centre stage

Seasonal notes…

HonestyHaving finished all the winter work on the fruit trees and bushes, this last couple of weekends we’ve been pushing on with tidying the herbaceous borders in the Walled Garden.

I’ve been removing the fallen leaves that have wedged themselves in under shrubs, and been cutting back the stems of old perennials that have been pushed down by the wind and rain. The aim has been to try to keep some interest in the seedheads and stems that remain, rather than ‘clear-fell’ the borders. I’ve left seedheads from things like Phlomiswpid-20121118_122125.jpg, foxgloves, lupin and astilbe. They look quite good now that we’ve removed the rather ‘sad’ material.

One of my best value purchases a couple of years ago was a packet of Honesty (Lunaria) seeds. I grew up with this cottage garden biennial with its mass of cheery early spring purple and white flowers but we’ve never had it here. Flowering in its second year, we had an excellent show last summer but it’s at this time of the year, mid-winter, that it really comes into its own. The Good Lady took a picture of  its tranlucent, penny-shaped seed heads a couple of weeks ago and it positively glows on sunny days. When I was clearing the fallen leaves round the old Honesty plants last week, I was pleased to note a rash of new seedlings under each one, perpetuating their existance here in the garden.

At the end of February or March, I’ll revisit the borders and cut back the remainder of the old stems, so that they don’t detract from the flush of new herbaceous green that we’ll start to see then. It’s quite a while, though, until the spring and it’s nice to have some form and structureimage to look at when wandering round. This really comes into its own if we get some really hard frosts, where each stem and seedhead becomes ‘sugar-coated’ with hoar-frost, bringing a whole new dimension to the garden in winter.

As you’ll have gathered now from my fellow UK bloggers, last weekend saw a real touch of spring in the garden, with temperatures in the double figures Celsius – most unusual for early January. With high overnight temperatures too, there’s been quite a lot of growth with polyanthus, primulas and tree paeonies showing early buds, and a flush of fresh green on the grass. While I was working outside last Saturday, I noticed the first Winter Aconite (Eranthis) flowering – a real harbinger of spring, and then during the course of 3 hours or so, a whole host of these cheerful yellow flowers started pinging up – one moment, there’s nothing; the next an instant flower! Are these the fastest growing flowers in the world, I wonder?

wpid-20121201_103753-1.jpgThis week, the temperatures have returned to normal (low degrees Celsius) and, in the cold light of dawn, I see white frost on the lawn and the greenhouse roof. Some snow is forecast for the early part of next week, and the sky looks threatening…