Sunday, 19 October 2014

An October Garden

In my Autumn garden I was fain
To mourn among my scattered roses;
Alas for that last rosebud which uncloses
To Autumn's languid sun and rain
When all the world is on the wane!
Which has not felt the sweet constraint of June,
Nor heard the nightingale in tune.

Broad-faced asters by my garden walk,
You are but coarse compared with roses:
More choice, more dear that rosebud which uncloses
Faint-scented, pinched, upon its stalk,
That least and last which cold winds balk;
A rose it is though least and last of all,
A rose to me though at the fall.

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)

Suddenly this poem sums my garden up.  A week or so ago all was still (unseasonably) warm and very (unseasonably) dry.  Suddenly the rain has arrived, cold and mist too and Autumn is definitely upon us. 
As I walk around my garden the roses are still there, some with their buds balled by rain and some flowering still quite heartedly.  There are now many asters in my garden as I have bought quite a few this year, and I have several cuttings/root spurs in the greenhouse making even more plants for next year. 

I have wandered around a couple of aster gardens in recent weeks, at AvondaleNursery and at Picton and I have formed opinions about asters.  Actually I have reinforced my opinion about asters and I shall take the opportunity to share my very personal view with you.

I like them tall.  There it is, I have said it.  I am not keen on any below knee height.  You can call this being short-ist and I think it actually is.  I look down on the lower asters and, well, I look down on them.

You can tell me they are useful in small gardens, I will fundamentally dispute this as they look equally short in a small or large garden.  Height goes up not along.

You can tell me they have their place and there I will agree with you, they do and that place is not in my garden.
But you say, this is unreasonable, we disagree, we think they are wonderful.  Well that’s great, as I said this is a very personal view and applies only to me and my garden.  I am not saying no one can or should grow them but I have yet to find one I could give a home to.

Gosh that turned into a bit of a rant didn’t it? and I didn’t even mention the ‘pink flowers look like prawns’ conversation.*

*not all pink, but some specific wishy-washy pinks apparently.  I rather link some pinks but I now I wander around my garden looking for prawns. (thanks T)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Owly Service

Or a parliament of owls

You know when you go to garden centres and various other worthy outlets you sometimes see those stone owls?  I have looked at them for many years and thought how much I wanted one, yet never quite got around to buying one.  Then some weeks ago I was at Calke Abbey and they had some in the sale, well it seemed like fate, this was the day to buy.  After a very brief look I knew the owl for me, picked him quickly in that 'what if someone else picks him up before me' manner, and wandered around clutching him in a possessive manner until the choosing was done and I went to pay.  It was sort of like being the Log Lady, but with an owl instead.

I love my owl.

Then I went to Haddonstone Show Gardens where I also became enamoured of an owl.  No idea why this is happening, I have not had a compulsion to buy owls particularly before.

Then I had to find somewhere for them to live.  I thought they ought to live together really so they could form a parliament.  It did not take long for me to realise where they had to be.
They have been placed on the pile of rocks that occupies the top right hand corner of the garden.  These rocks are weathering in well now and getting more overgrown, something I am encouraging as they are an ugly reminder of the now removed stream that was briefly part of the garden.

The moment I positioned them my mind went straight to the Alan Garner book, The Owl Service and in the same moment the 1970s television series of the same name.  I have happy memories, but slightly scared memories of both.  Yet I look at my owls, who (hoo) I now refer to as the Owl Service and they make me smile.  I cannot help but wonder if there is a third owl out there just waiting to join them.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Prairie Borders - year four

At this time of year my Prairie Borders are at their peak.  They were a bit of a gamble on my part when I first planned them as I had no idea if they would work.  I also worried they might be hard to maintain and even worse, I might just get bored with them very quickly.

I have written about their development here and here.  I have grown everything in these borders from seed, or have transplanted self-sown or divisions of plants into them.  They have been very cheap to achieve and that makes me happy.  They have taken a few years to establish well, but I do not mind that too much, the development is part of the fun.
I often describe them as blonde, that is because they are.  Wonderfully so and it makes me think maybe its time I went back to being blonde, its been a while.
The echinops have been there from the begining and have been a great joy.  Bees and butterflies love them and they make great accent points.

I have grown annual rudbeckia in these borders on and off, but this means I have to grow them every year and the results have been variable.  This year I have planted some divisions of perennial rudbeckia, I am hoping these will settle in well.
I have not put many in as I like to the palette simple and restricted.  This is totally the opposite to the rest of the garden and is quite hard for me to do.  However I have found that with these borders simple is best.
I planted up the borders with Verbena bonariensis earlier this year.  I have taken a while to decide whether this has been effective or not, but I think now the season is at its height that they have worked well.  They can stay.
The grasses overflow the paths rather well, it makes the grass paths hard to mow, but it is worth the effort.
I had worried about how the borders would sit in relation to the rest of the garden, but actually I think it works ok.  I do not find them too incongruous.

So they remain work in progress and are not yet what I would call anywhere near finished.  This means that I have not even had time to consider being bored with them.  I like not being bored.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A visit to Plas Cadnant

Despite having regular holidays to North Wales for many years now, I have only been to Anglesey once.  It is a beautiful island and I decided during my recent holiday it was time to visit again.  I had two main places I wanted to visit; an art gallery in Beaumaris and Plas Cadnant.
We got distracted by Beaumaris Castle, which I have to say is a very good castle.  It has it all, a moat, ruins and a good wander around the top of the castle walls.  I struggle usually with wall-top walks but there are quite good hand rails so I felt relatively safe.
Anyway, after some picture buying and castle wandering we finally arrived at Plas Cadnant.  I was immediately impressed at how well thought out it all was.  They have a really nice cafe so we had a quick lunch and then set off to explore the delights of the garden.
The entrance takes you straight into the formal pointy tree garden.  I have mentioned before how much I love a good pointy tree garden.  They supply you with a map when you arrive and this gives you a suggested route.  We decided to be compliant and follow the map.
Immediately I got distracted by this fantastic bit of espalier work.  Impressive stuff. 
Outside of the holiday cottages there is a small formal garden.  I thought this rather well done.
There are long herbaceous borders,
mossy stone heads,
and glimpses down to the pointy trees through these wonderful dark red hydrangeas.
It is a garden of windy paths,
and windy steps.
There is a woodland walk that leads to nice waterfall.
The paths keep winding through more hydrangeas and maples,
this hydrangea 'quercifolia' stopped me in my tracks.  It was so beautiful.
As we headed back towards the formal gardens there is some rather fine topiary.
At the end of the pointy tree avenue there is this formal pond.  I loved the ferns growing into the walls.
They had rather fine walls in general.
There is a lot more to this garden than I have shown. It is a garden that is work in progress as it had been neglected for many years before the present owner bought it.  I really enjoyed my visit and will definitely visit again.

On the way back to our holiday cottage I stopped off at Crûg Farm Nursery, one of my all time favourite nurseries.  I was not hugely certain of what I wanted, but I had been seeing dark red hydrangeas where-ever I went on this holiday, so it was no great surprise that....
.... this hydrangea jumped into the car and demanded to be taken back home.  Well it would have been rude of me to refuse.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tree following - the quince pauses

So here we are, episode 8 of tree following the quince.  I had expected more change in the quince this time as we are now in October, yet I look at the photographs I have taken and it seems much the same as it was in September.
It is liked it is holding its breath, someone has pressed the pause button.
For a moment I wondered what I could find to say about it, it is hard following a tree that appears to have run out of oomph.  Then I focussed my in closer,
I looked at the light coming through the leaves and the flush of autumn appearing around the edges.  I also noted the tiny pin-pricks of light showing through the leaves and wondered what caused them.
Another leaf had blotches on it, its not a poorly tree but the odd leaf shows that things have been living off it.
I realised I had never noticed the red leaf stems before.  They are rather wonderful.

I expect far more change in the November episode.  This poor tree has been without water for over a month yet has survived quite well.  As I write this the rains have finally started and it feels like this wonderfully long summer has now come to an end.  Autumn is now knocking at the door.

Thanks as ever to Lucy for hosting this meme, there are more trees being followed here.