Wednesday 20 November 2013

Preparing for winter: how I overwinter my plants

So with winter imminent it was time to dig up and take in all the more exotic elements of the garden to save them from a cold icy death. The majority of the garden is actually hardy or are annuals however a splattering of tender things helps jazz things up and emphasize the exotic nature of the garden.

All in all it was a good job I took things in today as this morning (20th) I saw the first proper signs of frost revioir Dahlia imperialis...

I'm loving Cannas more and more every year, which is good as they are multiplying up fast! Basically all that I do is cut off the foliage, dig up the clumps, and knock off the main chunks of the wet garden soil as it tends to have quite a lot of clay in it, I also try and rescue worms which seem to like living close to the rhizomes.

Once dug up I put them into compost bags, gently filling around the edge with dry multipurpose compost. They then live for the  coldest part of the year in our electricity meter cupboard which is underneath the entrance to the house, and probably stays at about 5-8 degrees.  Some of the Cannas which are in pots I tend to just cut the foliage off and move into the covered side passage by the house. It is open at one end, but it is covered and it think the combination of the warmth from the house and dryness is what keeps things alive.

I do find that the Cannas actually can survive in the ground, however they are then so late getting going that it means it would have been better to dig them up. I am expereimenting leaving some in the ground, and I will dig them up in March?

The Enstes are the exciting thing which I deal with as follows

1) Happy plant, not knowing what will come next

2) Cut off the leaves and roots (be careful not to damage the corm) and also leave some of the stems. A temptation is to peel all the dead leaves off  like a banana, however try and keep most as this prevents it drying out too much

3)  Wash the base to get the remaining soil off and then cut off the remaining roots

4) store upside down somewhere frost free (mine are in the meter cupboard). This drains out the water that is in the leaves

5) after a few weeks if the moisture has gone turn the right way up

Finally the remaining Musa sikkimensis were dug up and put into pots and will be joined with the Musa lasiocarpa in the sideway.

Bananas waiting to go under cover if the builders ever finish the sideway
The greenhouse is also getting full! I have lots of salvia cuttings and hedychiums. A good tip for those people with Carnivores is that it can be good to move the sarracenias out for the winter as the cold is supposed to be good for them....I've started doing this as it is a great space saver.

Dahlias all stay in the ground, although I am going to try digging up 2 Dahlia imperialis to get them going earlier in the year, I also lost one at the far end of the garden and I wonder if it is simply too wet for them to survive.

Finally some pictures of today's frost...its not devastating but enough to kill off the Dahlias and slap around a few other things...

A flowering Dalia imperialis and Tetrapanax is a sure fire warning that the frost is about here!  


Sunday 17 November 2013

The November Garden: things at their peak before the end...

Last night the club I was at played Mariah Careys 'All I want for Christmas' there is no escape! winter is almost here. There are also the usual weather stories about how this is going to be to be the worst winter for a generation...however with all the mini stollen I'm eating from Lidl I think i will be well insulated.

Frosts must be imminent, so this weekend was time to dig stuff up, however before I did I wanted to take some pictures of things at their 2013 climax, so enjoy... 

This was a good year for Cobea...I had stopped growing it as it tended to grow huge and not flower, however growing them on arches and trellis where they got lots of sun has reignited an interest. I do think if you can bend the branches down it encourages flowering as otherwise all it wants to do is to get to the top...they are very impatient.

Mmm I love Melianthus... it has taken ages to get going, but their leaves are magnificent and make a great contrast with dark leaved dahlias.

The terraces jungle army, with their last show of exuberance. This year I also designed things more from the perspective of the view from our terrace and lounge to create a backdrop of lushness which I will miss...

Musa lasiocarpa flanking Ganesh....great foliage but I really want them to flower. any tips?

 Nicotiana tabacum with some delicate red flowers, and Dahlia imperials (below) bought in July and now up to at least 8 foot and about to flower.

 Sams salvia and Salvia coccinea (below)

This is the view I am really pleased with as last year nothing really grew here and I had concerns about the soil, however this now seems to be the best place for lots of things as the Ricinus grew best here (about 8foot) and the Musa sikkimensis settled in nicely

Garuda standing tall, and then a more accurate picture of the garden where in general things are really knocked around, stuff is dying and looking rather worse for wear. Time for winter renewal and planning for 2014.

I was trying to think if music to go with this as an ode to the end of the season......

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Ground frosts

This morning was the first time when on waking up it looked like there had been a slight ground frost. Not enough to hang around for a long time but enough to make the rampant nasturtiums hang their heads a little. It is also a wake up call for me, as yes inside I may have the heating on and be wandering around in shorts and Hawaiian shirts pretending it is summer however I think I need to firmly accept it is winter. 

So this weekend is the time for the big plant take in...the Musa silkimensis will all be dug up, Cannas cut down and stored and Ensetes cut down and left to dry....time for the cold

Monday 11 November 2013

New plant show painting

So my ramble towards being a better painter continues...this is the latest one very loosely based on a fern stand at a plant show this year which I am rather pleased with!

Saturday 2 November 2013

Nice France: new public garden and escaping cold England

So last weekend we escaped to Nice in order to check out my parents new flat and have a break. Our visit coincided with the official opening of their new redeveloped park which was a very exciting affair complete with sultry teenagers in traditional dress and lots of important speeches about reclaiming open space from cars and buses.

It was very exciting to see how they thought open spaces should be done and there were a few surprises such as the misters, scented with Jasmine (tres bien!) casting clouds of spray across the park. The double surprise was how quickly a small child standing on a sensor would get soaking wet.

Fountains were the big thing and they seemed to have something hypnotic in the water as the locals were all transfixed as they popped up and down to the music.

They also had these seats which were all in the new stylee (ie individual seats randomly placed around like an informal sitting room) however these only had one leg fixed to the ground so that you could follow the sun, or ignore your neighbour.

The planting was loosely continental...Africa being nice witht his lotus type flower and Australasia being a sea of tree ferns (Dicksonia and Cyatheas don't you know!) nice modern swathes of grasses and loose planting. Generally all the municipal planting in Nice is so much better than English ones as it is all so varied and exciting rather than our abused shrubs and samey bedding. In the middle of the roads were Tetrapanx and planting very reminiscent of my own, and around tree bases there were swathes of Miscanthus and Garuda.

The children's play stuff was also rather fun big monsters of the deep.

Interestingly the whole park was actually built over the old river which used to dissect the main town with big bridges over the other side. In Victorian times the ladies would wander amongst the boulders with people washing their clothes in the river. This was all covered over about 100? yrs ago and was built over in various ways from open space to a bus station. Now it is a park and a rather good one, I approve!

Also a fun thing to do was go to Villefranche...a village round the bay which was great for gawping at the locals and wandering its medieval streets. There is nothing at all wrong with a 2 1/2 hour lunch on the quayside in the sun. There was also much admiration of the plants and looking forward to returning

 It seems that the designer of the town bands uniform was also a fan of the Thunderbirds...

Nicotiana glaucum growing out of a crack!

 Loquat flowers