Not being one of the very early risers the gloomy mornings are only just starting to have an impact on me. Fortunately there are only two weeks to go until the shortest day and then we will be on the up again. Winter frosts have turned most of the herbaceous borders brown which is a reminder to me to get those soggy plants removed. I was looking forlornly out of the kitchen window this morning wondering what my six would be when I realised that the garden was full of birds. The persimmon tree was hosting several species and one in particular caught my eye. Out came the book of birds and I was able to identify a redwing. Once again Mr P’s Six On Saturday regime has come up trumps. Armed with optimism I sallied forth to see what else was going on in the December garden.
One step outside the back door and the first reward was spotted, The mint that had frazzled up and died in the summer is pushing through again. This was grown from seed this year so I’m very pleased to see it’s resurgence.
Two steps more and I was reminded of the annual moss cull that takes place at this time of year. The birds descend and pull up the moss from the cracks in the paving. They fling it around with gay abandon, they have no need for the moss now. I imagine they are searching for insects. What else could it be? I have some sweeping up to do.
Down the steps, the hydrangeas are in their last throes of pinky-brown. Some have advanced further into winter foliage and some have new buds forming.
The leaves are down from the trees. There seemed to be a never-ending supply of them but now they are piled up in the leaf cage it doesn’t look like much.
Round the back in the nursery corner the salvia ‘Amistad’ that overwintered from last year is still in flower. I am coming to view this plant as a late summer contributor. I have six cuttings in the greenhouse that are doing well, so far. There have been casualties though. The salvia nemorosa caradonna cuttings have gone from three to one and the lavender looks a bit wobbly.
It feels like a few years ago now but some time in the recent past I sowed a whole packet of euphorbia oblongata seeds. Forty five I seem to remember. I managed to get three plants which hovered between life and death for some months. I tipped them out into the garden to do or die and one of them looks quite healthy now. It will, of course, die over the winter. But maybe not. I’ll keep those fingers crossed.
Fingers crossed that your winter gardening throws up some joys. I am thinking about the spring bulbs that are doing their thing below the surface at this very moment. I have also thought about slugs that are lurking so tomorrow’s job will be to clear the sogginess.
For me November has been a sunny month but the mists of autumn arrived on Friday. The softened light wrapped itself around the garden and the muted colours blended together like a good Harris tweed. I loved it. Today the skies are blue again, a brief respite as next week promises a good blast of winter chill. The gardening year is moving on.
I had the opportunity to be out in the garden this week and my bulb planting success rate increased. I started out with 258 to plant. I put away the ‘Mount Everest’ Alliums and Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’ last week, leaving me with 240 bulbs. This week the extra Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ went in along with most of the Thalia. Planting the yellow tulip ‘World Friendship’ in the narrow border led to a little swearing as I encountered one or two of last year’s friends. I took a rain check on them for another day. So I have 106 tulips to go, 10 Thalia and 50 of the tiny allium sphaerocephalon. I plan to get them in before the cold spell arrives.
It was a week of tidying up and fond farewells were said to some old friends. The last of zinnias and cosmos went to the compost heap. The verbena bonariensis were brought back in check with self seeders despatched to the heap or relocated. I now have a clear patch in the south east facing border for 60 of those extra tulips and the remaining allium sphaerocephalon. I’m feeling the need for an anchor plant in this corner, something that would work well with the trachelospermum jasminoides. Suggestions welcome! It’s a sunny corner as it also picks up some afternoon sun from the west.
Most of the leaves have fallen from my trees and the leaf pile is growing steadily. There are still plenty to come as the leaves on the trees in neighbouring gardens are still hanging on. Whilst I am not a regular gardening diyer I did turn my hand and trusty staple gun to producing this leaf bin. Say no more!
At this time of year my thoughts turn to plans for next year. After two and half years in this new garden I am getting round to the north facing border. This photo shows the section that is currently home to a stand of blackcurrant bushes. I love blackcurrants but I do also have another stand in the veg plot so the ruthless gardener is going to make an appearance and these will go to be replaced by a planting of white shade lovers completely inspired by a Joe Swift article in the August edition of Gardeners’ world. Watch this space.
Also on the project list is a new compost area. The current heaps are in crumbling brick bays. I’ve emptied out two sections and installed a builder’s bag nearby to take the new pile. Once the other two sections are empty I will be calling in some muscle to knock down and wheel away the bricks. Then Father Christmas will bring me some new wooden bins – I’ve had an early word!
I’m looking forward to the bricks going as I will be getting a skip, which, perhaps sadly, I always find very exciting! I am inspired by One man and his garden trowel, a fellow sixer to share with you ‘down the side of my shed’. Hiding beneath those autumnal leaves is a great collection of old paving slabs and miscellaneous bits of metal excavated from the garden over the year. Once the skip arrives it will indeed be farewell old friends!
Good luck with your garden plans. Find out what everyone else is up to by checking in with Mr P. All the links to SOS appear throughout the day.
I have been shamed by my fellow sixers! The shorter days and colder temperatures have me reaching for the blanket, the gardening books and a cuppa. I was even considering not posting a six! But reading Mr P’s links to today’s sixes have encouraged me to get out in the garden. I have not sown my sweet peas seeds, planted any bulbs and only just in time did I fleece my tender agapanthus plants. But then none of us are perfect are we? The very least I could do was to share six from my garden this week:
I garden in London and so get a little complacent about frosts. But this week the lawn has had a light frosting and it was clearly a sign that cold weather gardening had to start. Last year’s fleece was in shredded tatters in the shed and I hate all those white flaky bits. I hot footed it to Homebase and found some delightful green bags of 35gsm fleece with very handy draw string pulls. I usually fleece up the agapanthus armed with a stapler but these jackets were easy to pull over the plants and the fetching shade of green is slightly less obvious than white. Job done.
I was certainly lulled into complacency by the balmy days I experienced in Suffolk last week but the cold evenings are changing the colours of the garden. The persimmon tree is looking beautiful even as the leaves are falling.
The previously sun scorched hydrangeas are also taking on their winter hue.
But elsewhere the summer container plants are still in good health and I will leave them out throughout the winter. In mild years I have been able to carry the geraniums over into the next summer.
The white antirrhinum sowed from seed is still in flower at this end of the garden but elsewhere I have collected seeds from another plant that has done its bit for summer.
I recently planted out some gaura and pennisetums in a west border and alongside them I put in some Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, which still thinks there’s time to put on a display. Thank you!
Thank you too, to everyone who shares their gardens on a Saturday. You provide inspiration, support and encouragement and always make me laugh! What more can you ask for? Well, if anyone’s free to plant a few hundred bulbs….