Posted in gardener's jottings

Somethings old, somethings new

At what instant does the summer change? What subtle chemistry of air and sunlight” ~ Jane Tyson Clement

Yesterday was the official start of Autumn but the Seiryu Acer has been showing somewhat premature signs of it for the last 2-3 weeks. By contrast, the tuberous begonias which were planted out well in time for summer have only recently come into something that resembles full blooming.

Green dragon acer ‘Seiryu’ already breathing fire

These signs are perhaps indicative of the mixed-bag summer we have had this year. Disappointing to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who long for long sunny days though I hesitate to complain when parts of Europe and the USA have had horrifically high temperatures, resulting in fires.

Continuing the heat theme, I’ve been pondering what style of planting to make for the front dais garden. At the moment it houses all the plants but after the Japanese ones move to the back, there will be gaps that need filling. Being North facing with afternoon sun, those solar lovers are not going to bloom to their best.

‘Neon’ setting the tone for the Derbyshire dais

Neverthless my salvias have done well and on that note my daughter gifted me another one which rather sets the tone, being a vivacious magenta ‘Neon‘. Its not only hot pink but evergreen and theoretically hardy!

Thus I’ve decided to choose blooms that stand out in the colour palette, across the three seasons. Not forgetting of course the importance of background foliage and evergreens!

Since I needed to infill with late season colour I purchased some gaudy yellow gazanias and a very tall orange Salvia with the appropriately hot name: “Embers Wish“. Despite this nomenclature, it will probably need winter protection here, although the dais is sheltered having the benefit of backing on to my living space. For this reason I like to take cuttings and overwinter in a sheltered spot, like my newly renovated greenhouse (when it finally gets all its glass panes).

Talking of winter protection, I have four scented leaf pelargoniums which only just survived being kept under a poly greenhouse last winter and then savagely cut back in Spring!

maroon velvet flowers of Pelargonium. sidoides

This year I intend to be a better carer not least because I would hate to lose any of them, especially the South African geranium P. sidoides.

Normally at this time of year I start to wind down but there are outstanding manual jobs in my garden design plans before the inclement weather stops play! I’m also trying some Autumn seed sowing and have opted for Chilterns bargain-basement lottery mixes of hardy perennials, plus a shrubs & trees mix. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so they say!

I’ve a few bulbs to pop into pots too though I used never to plant tulips until November, as it was once thought this helped prevent ‘tulip fire’. Apparently this is no longer valid advice.

Take a scrolling stroll through the Derbyshire Dais garden in September

Posted in gardener's jottings

Fronting the Garden

This morning, the sun endures past dawn. I realize that it is August: the summer’s last stand” ~ Sara Baume

Having moved home and garden in the sweltering late July heat, I’m pleased to report that there were few casualties. Sadly however, the Leptospermum scoparium or Manuka seedlings roasted after being left in the car whilst unpacking was done. The scorchingly hot day meant that all the growing tips were singed, and one by one, all but a couple, gradually died.

manuka clinging on with a wing & prayer

The loss is very disheartening as till then I’d taken much care and pride in the seedlings. If there is an upside, however, it’s that these were the first seeds I’d ever attempted to stratify and met with such success. And now with a small glasshouse under renovation, there is a future of much seed sowing to be had.

Stratification” as cold storage – laying seeds on moist paper within a plastic bag and plenty of air and placing in a fridge. Removal from the fridge simulates the winter to spring temperature change and triggers germination.

As the time drew near to moving, I had put so much thought into developing (over time) a Japanese style back garden that I failed to fully register that at the front of the Annexe is a generous dais space for pots. This means that my old ‘garden in a pot’ can continue in some shape or form and hence I’ve subtitled this blog “and other plants“.

The Derbyshire Dais – with all my potted plants

This is a sheltered, North facing space which catches the afternoon sun so part sun/part shade loving plants will be the requisite.

After moving Acers, Hydrangeas and Hostas to their eventual Japanesque garden, there will be significant gaps here. One idea is to specialize in two or three species, perhaps those that reflect the seasons or the locale. And here in Derbyshire I’d have to consider hardy plants or else be prepared to put in a great deal of overwinter cosseting.

Acer at the window

At the moment, I enjoy looking through my front window at the very upright Acer Seiryu or Blue-Green Dragon. In Autumn, it will turn a beautiful red-bronze. Thus, after it is moved, I would want to replace it with something equally colourful in both Spring and Autumn. I’m currently considering one of the smaller Amelanchiers (snowy mesipilus) but am open to suggestions and have plenty of time to do more research.

Already I have added a wishlist category to the Plant Register and from the internet, am starting to bookmark some possible suitable plants. I use Firefox’s Pocket bookmarker solely for plant ideas and its tag facility makes such bookmarking even easier to sort.

After many years of garden visiting, I constructed a virtual wishlist in my head of trees, shrubs and perennials I would want for my garden whenever I had one. Like castles in the air, such ideas literally come down to earth with the reality of locale. Thus, I shall probably never grow the strongly scented Pineapple Broom (Cytisus battandieri) or one of the wonderful Cornus kousas but a Spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) is still possible. I shall eventually have a gate from my back garden into my daughter’s woodland and along that path down to the brook. This native tree would be right at home there!

Anyway, that’s enough of daydreaming for now. There is very little to be done in the garden at this time of year as the plants begin to take a rest. I have yet to build up more late flowering, autumn interest plants but meanwhile, a great deal of manual work is about to begin with the first steps towards my Japanesque garden design. Watch this garden design space.


Take a scrolling stroll through the Derbyshire Dais of the Front Garden in August