Death & Decay


It is all too easy when writing a blog like this to talk about how good things are and to only put up your best pictures of flowers and foliage on sunny days and in good light. But we all know gardens are not always like that! So, just for a change, I thought I would post some images of my garden on this miserable wet mid-October day.

In reality, at this time of year I am surrounded by a scene of death and decay. 074

Last weekend a friend introduced me to the concept of plants that ‘die well’. I don’t know who originally coined this phrase but it is very apt. Some plants do seem to die better than others. This Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ dies badly in my book and smothers everything else in the process.

The leaves of this Amelanchier lamarckii. on the other hand, die back well with interesting colours and a gradual decline before dropping in November. My alkaline clay is not well suited to it but a generous annual mulch of leaf mould seems to be doing the trick.041

Echinaceas die well because they continue to stand tall and straight and maintain their cones filled with seeds which the finches love. 038

Of course, there are a few bright spots as well. The Verbena bonariensis collapsing into the waiting arms of Bidens aurea makes a lovely chance combination051

And despite the atrocious weather today, my Granddad’s Chrysanthemum which I have named ‘George Simons’ after him, still looks fabulous.025

Some foliage always looks better adorned with raindrops and Cotinus coggygria is one.040

The impossibly named Aster ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’ is definitely not dying but it doesn’t like the rain. If it wasn’t held up by all around it the metre high stems would be horizontal now.062

Already horizontal and revelling in the wet conditions, the lawn is looking magnificent.

Had to end on a high note!

My Garden This Week – Part 2

014Osteospermum ‘Cannington Roy’, remarkably hardy and has overwintered for two years successfully in the gravel margin between the path and house wall. Incredibly floriferous and will keep on going until November if it is deadheaded continuously.028

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ against Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, a fetching combination and lucky accident! A good ‘doer’ compared to a lot of others; strong, tall and has clumped up well in poor dry soil in full sun.024

Astrantia major with pink and blue hardy geraniums, a perfect combination. This Astrantia pops up in various places where it is happy so I leave it and let it flourish. It seems to like the company of other ground cover plants which probably keep the soil cool and moist.013

A scented leaf pelargonium with an exquisite scarlet colour, almost fluorescent. 042

I have no idea what this Iris sibirica is called but it is simply beautiful. The seamless blend of white, cream and yellow is perfect in every detail.050

Yes I know it’s only a daisy but this Erigeron karvinskianus has my respect and admiration for it’s sheer tenacity and determination to succeed in the face of adversity. It manages to get it’s seed into every crack and crevice and is slowly but surely colonising the four corners of my garden.017

This remarkable bi-coloured Foxglove, Digitalis grandiflora, opens creamy yellow and gradually turns light pink creating this lovely two colour effect. I will collect seed from it but I doubt if it will come true again.


Autumn Colours

The autumn colours of Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’

A walk around the garden on this cold and misty morning was a treat and just served to remind me how gardens change and evolve with each season. The immature Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ is still only 2m tall but is already showing it’s well earned reputation for fabulous autumn colour.                                                                               The red tipped foliage of the Photinia fraserii hedge glistens with dew and is quietly beginning to go to sleep for winter.

The young purple beech hedge holding it’s coppery leaves

The young purple beech hedge is gradually knitting together to give us some privacy in the middle garden and I am pleased with it after just three years from 60cm whips, particularly given the awful first two winters it endured. It has had it’s first proper trim this year and I think we will see some real progress next summer now that it has got it’s feet down.

One season’s growth on Cotinus coggrya ‘Royal Purple’ after cutting back hard in Spring

The Cotinus coggrya left from the previous garden in the middle of the lawn had got too big and sprawling and was therefore cut back hard in spring to either rejuvenate it or kill it off! The pruning worked and it responded with bigger and better leaves but on thin wispy branches. It will get the same treatment next year and should be even better for it. It is under-planted with cream tulips, yellow primroses and Geranium sanguineum and looks a treat!

Autumn foliage of Viburnum opulus after the birds had the berries!

Despite being munched by Viburnum beetle earlier in the year which turned a lot of it’s leaves into lace, the guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, has managed to retain some foliage which will gradually turn a beautiful shade of dark pink. The few bright red berries it produced have all gone, snaffled by the blackbirds, pigeons or squirrels!

New flower buds of Peris japonica preparing for the Spring show!

My little Peris japonica in a pot likes it’s position by the front door and is always putting on a show. At the moment it is covered in pink buds which burst into white flowers in spring to welcome visitors to the door. It is a constant talking point.

The emerging fat pink buds of Skimmia japonica, the hips of the dog rose poking through the Pyracantha, the fading flowers of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and the seed heads of Echinacea purpurea are all telling me it’s nearly time for me to stay indoors and start looking through those seed catalogues!