Sunday 27 November 2011

Pictorial november musings

With Novembers imminent end, I wanted to just give a few pictures of how things are in the garden as it is odd how some plants are completely dead (like the dahlias) and others such as the Ricinus are still growing away very happily. I am now ready for the winter, its official! all the tender stuff is dug up, and the bananas are wrapped, I will not be caught unexpectedly by 3ft of snow....

This is the Tetrapanax flowering its heart out....they have what you would describe as insignificant flowers, as this is it, flowering at full pelt. Its interesting how the flower stalks are coated in the same brown fibres/powdery stuff which looks evil. It reminds me of those ancient videos of children playing in piles of asbestos 

This is the view from the patio of the ever growing Ricinus...Reach for the stars as S-club 7 would say.

Amicia the tallest it has been at 6ft, with my Musa basjoo behind. My wrapping is a little creative and depends upon what is to hand..this one is 5 big bags of leaves, a tepee, fleece, weed mat with a waterproof plastic top which blew over from the builders next door

I was excited to see how the umbrella grass (Cyperus alternifolia) has grown from a fallen leaf. They are exciting to propagate as basically you just cut a leaf and put it upside down in water, and then a new plant grows in the joints!

My full greenhouse, wrapped and mainly full of saliva's and feels like I have been eating them forever and yet there is still more to come.

The once full terrace is now bare with all the furniture wrapped up for Xmas, is a little sad

Fatsia japonica......I don't understand Fatsias as this one looks fabulous and almost F. polycarpa like with huge leaves whereas others in the garden look almost dead and are struggling, I think they must be very sensitive to drying out as this one gets run off from the shed roof whereas the others are all in areas which get dry.

My once grand entrance with Ganesha looking a bit mossy, and the palms that were in the pots planted out elsewhere. Come the frosts it will all be cut to the ground, but then a new mighty garden will rise again

Sunday 20 November 2011

I need a bath

This gardening malarkey is a lot harder if you don’t do it regularly as by ‘eckers I need a sit down and a bath after a day digging and moving stuff around....

Salvias are back for more! Tetrapanax also flowering for thr first time, usually the frosts get the buds...
Its been very autumnal/wintery here today with a heavy mist which has been very atmospheric as I have been completing the final prep for winter. Things are looking very run down, and I have been enjoying pulling stuff out and thinking through different vistas and plans for next year. I even found myself humming a few Christmas songs as I put up the last bits of bubble wrap in the greenhouse and the patio furniture under a tarp.

Its fun planning for next year, and my list of must haves is growing. Top of the list is Dahlia excelsa which Mark and Gaz have done a piece on. I bought a Dahlia imperialis this year and have been rather taken by its majesty and the speed at which it grows. It is a very architectural and solid plant, and from a July planting it is now 10ft tall and about to flower. D.excelsa is supposed to be hardier and more clumping which I think would be great

Dahlia is in the middle of the picture looking very un dahlia like!
Doing NGS has meant I’m wanting to take less risks over the winter and have dug all of my Musa sikkimensis up, and have found seeing the size of the roots and the corms interesting. I was also surprised how the one which took forever to break the ground was buried fairly deep and wonder if having a raised bed would speed up their re-emergence.  I find them completely root hardy, but they tend to lose their stems without protection so they are all destined to be fleeced and spend the winter in a covered side passage.
Musa sikkimensis root and corm

The line up waiting for potting up, all bananas destined for dry cover, chopped down canns for the meter cupboard
Anyway, I need a bath!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Shy retiring wallflowers and Russian princesses

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Grimsby to visit the in-laws, I can probably be a bit mean about Grimsby (clue is in the name: boom boom) however it was all very nice. The part we go to is also not Grimsby proper, and Grimsby folk are of course very different from Laceby and Caistor folk. Grimsby its self is full of things to do, indeed there were lads on a stag do walking down the street drinking beer at 10:30 am, and a rather obese lady falling/rolling off her scooter in the high street. The Wolds were delightful with the sun low in the sky over rolling fields, there is also a good splattering or nurseries where I managed to get some cheap plants and bulbs for spring.

I haven’t really done much to prepare for spring, usually I get carried away with bulb catalogues but I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst I’m still moving lost of perennials around there is a high chance of bulbs dying from me putting a spade through them. The squirrels are also delighted at the annual Easter egg hunt I put on for them and very good at finding bulbs wherever I hide them. However I’m a sucker for a bargain and bought some discounted bulbs in Wilkinsons and also bought a tray of wallflowers from the market.

I love wallflowers as they are a flower that really reminds me of the garden where I grew up, and scents are one of those things that can transport you back in time. They are also so cheap as I was buying bundles of 10 plants for £1, and they show you how incredible some plants are at surviving as they are just bundled together in an elastic bands with just a couple of tiny roots, yet by spring they will be flowering the hearts out. BUY SOME NOW!

The garden is transformed in spring, and in a way peaks first in May and then again in September when it is at its exotic best. In May the forget me nots will be a carpet of blue with wallflowers everywhere and the odd allium I haven’t sliced up poking its way through. It all then comes out for the summer plants and to make space for things to grow through. I love this successional planting and wish I was better at it, as growing exotics which break through the ground late gives you a good window to have other stars in their place. The forget me nots are so easily pulled out, and the Eremurs which look stunning then die back almost immediately.
A little different to now, where you need a machete to get through (as stated on Gardeners World)
One of the good things about going up north has been seeing friends, all of whom were asking about Gardeners World and asking what I’m doing next. Its funny how a few of us seem to be having our moment as we saw Skip who had just been filmed for Come dine with me, a British TV thing where you take turns cooking dinner for 4 strangers over a week, scoring each person as you go. My friend Nick has just produced a fabulous album of his quirky folky harpy cool music....check it out! I find the whole media thing very amusing, although I’m not brave/foolish enough to do something like Come Dine with me. Nick is very cool to have an album, especially as he can now say that he has been remixed!

Anyway...plants! Things have been winding down but what is interesting is the difference between my two Paulownias.... P. Tomentosa (the one everyone has) lost its leaves about a month ago whereas P.fortuneii ‘Fast Blue’ is only just beginning to lose them now. I know the tomentosa is more exposed, but I do think there is a difference.

P. fortuneni is on the left, the other is a stick to the right
Paulownia is one of my must have see it fairly often in the UK, usually as a tall tree in parks which has foxglove like flowers in the spring (thus its common name Foxglove tree). In the exotic garden you can cut it down each year to the ground (stooling) and then it shoots up like a rocket, with my plants getting to be about 12-13ft tall with huge very tropical looking leaves. I try and grow it from root cuttings in spring but where they worked last year, this year I was rubbish!

It is named after Anna Paulovna (1795-1865), a Russian princess who then became Queen of the Netherlands however originates from China where they grow it near to houses to bring good luck and attract the Phoenix. In Japan there is also a tradition that one will be planted on the birth of a daughter, and when she was married it would be cut down and the timber used to make a wedding chest. Interestingly it grows wild and is a bit of a pest in Eastern USA after making its way there in the 1800’s when seeds that were used as packing material for ceramics escaped

It’s very fast growth and dense rot resistant wood has led to many calling it the ‘tree of the future’, it is also used as a tree to help with reforestation, and also with intercropping to prevent soil erosion. China is still the biggest grower and the wood is used to make everything from houses and furniture to electric guitars.
So there we go a good plant to grow if you want something jungly as it is very easy, and you can encourage a Phonenix to come visit!