Monday, 22 October 2012

Climax and shut down....

So this is it, we are almost at the end of the year; the garden has climaxed and is heading towards a messy end. The ground is sodden, and the wind is making everything wobbly with cosmos and Jerusalem artichokes lolling all over the place like a hen party from the suburbs at the end of the night.

Things are still growing, nasturtiums are taking over, and ricinus look better by the week, even the Cannas which have been late all year are making a push for it,  perhaps realising that the end is almost nigh and they should get their skates on.
A combination of busy weekends and an escape to tropical climes has meant that this was the one weekend I had to get things ready for winter. So I was brave...I have dug up bananas, looked disappointedly at a few things that never got into their stride (don’t talk to me about Coco Yams or Alocasias). I have also put in a lot of bulbs.....when you are in a shop and you buy bulbs you self regulate as you can feel how heavy the basket is and how much you will ache from putting them in, however on the internet you have no idea....400 daffodils, that seems like a good number...oh yes 200 tulips, of course and ooh I did like that muscari at the flower show last year I will buy 50. Lets just say that the box that was delivered needed two of us to lift it down the stairs

If I was here every weekend in October/November I would probably want to wait another few weeks before shutting things down for winter as lots of plants are still looking great, and I think that they will try and keep growing for a while yet. So I have gone for a half way house in that I have dug a lot of things such as the bananas, ensete, some cannas whilst moving the proper tender things like begonia luxurians inside and saying farewells to things that won’t survive and I have no space for like coleus and the papyrus. However I haven’t cut it all down and things like the bananas I have potted up into the smallest pots they will fit into and moved into a covered sideway, the thought being that I will let them dry out for the next few weeks before cutting off the leaves and wrapping them. They were all really sodden so I hope this will help as it is the wet that kills stuff as much as the cold does.
I have been surprised at how much stuff I now have as the sideway is full! The one clump of cannas I had 2 years ago have turned into 6 large groups, and I haven’t even contemplated digging up the others which I will rescue once the frosts have cut them back, perhaps keeping 30% in the ground to try things out.

It could all be a bit depressing, but I’m moving on and ready for next year as I’m mentally preparing lists of things to move, new places to try things out and better combinations of plants. I’m also trying to be a better gardener by bulking stuff up: I’ve been looking with pride at my 25 new pots of black lily grass that came from divisions, and the 8 pots of Polypody ferns. There are also shows to go to and I’m looking forward to the RHS autumn show next week, and very excited by seeing proper jungles.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Great Dixter, and jungle fantasies....

Last weekend was my birthday...on Friday I went bowling (note to self....wearing jeans that are too tight, eating too much and then drinking beer isn’t good for your bowling. Note to’s my birthday, I should have won by at least 20 points). Then on Sunday we went to the East Sussex/Kent borders to first pop in on Bodiam Castle as it is a fabulous proper castle, then go to the house and garden of the late Christopher Lloyd which coincidentally had a plant fair!
I told you it was proper!
Any regular readers will know how much I love Christopher Lloyd...his style of gardening is very aligned to my own. He also famously dug up his rose garden to plant a jungle style garden. So a trip was a lovely birthday treat.

Firstly I was impressed by the plant fair as there were some interesting nurseries...there was a Belgian Persicaria specialist, and French Michaelmas daisy person with whom communication was a little hazy when I was asking for ones which had mildew resistance as his English wasn’t great.... erm...ilya une daisy that er pas de malaise de erm blanc malaise on the erm leaf?? However I did manage to buy a good few things as bizarrely a lot of the plants I had been chasing for years were all at the fair..
Anyway, the garden was a fabulous joy to wander around....dense and eclectic planting which had evolved since the last time I was there. For me the jungle garden was also like a giant orgasm....dense exotic planting which was huge and close, making it feel claustrophobic and like a proper jungle. Wonderful plants which I imagine must take a lot of watering and feeding.  Lots to be inspired by, go and see it!
The garden has all this great topiary which gives a strong structure..

the long border...lots of Phlox

Kaffir lily....mmm

There was a lot of this French marigold used as a filler....great colour and very useful

Lots of salvias which I was lusting over....I think this one is rather tender

I have no idea what this is (its about please!)

this is the jungle garden from a distance...its not massive and I love how enclosed it is...from here it almost looks caged!
Gorgeousness.....Tetrapanax and a fabulous lush looking Persicaria

swoon......I want I want I want!

I think this is tree of heaven? help! I want one!

Great colour matching with the lancewood, cannas and stems of Ricinus

Begonia luxurians....swoon again

Cannas, bananas and a giant Dahlia....such bliss!