Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Bowl of Frosties!

Crocosmia with Miscanthus, Artemisia and Persicaria

Crocosmia with Miscanthus, Artemisia and Persicaria

Boy, is it cold today! Takes us all by surprise! A pleasant one, however, after this wet and weary spell.

Well, my first choice of title, was to be “A Touch of Frost”, but it had already been used. But a touch of frost is what this post is all about.

How wonderful is the first real winter frost! It transforms the garden from a dull, mushy brown to a winter wonderland. It defines all the leaf edges and foliage detail, with crisp whiteness. This is when you pat yourself on the back for including all the grasses, and structural plants.

Deschampsia cespitosa

Deschampsia cespitosa

Miscanthus "Morning Light" with fennel

Miscanthus “Morning Light” with fennel

In the Grass Garden, the silvery Miscanthus grass, “Morning Light”, becomes even more silvery, set against the backdrop of frosted fennel seed heads.

Even the functional Allotment, takes on a picturesque quality.

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The last of the sweet pea flowers twinkle out of its frosted tepee, looking somewhat like an early Christmas tree!

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The wayward stems of the Japanese Wineberry, still with its autumn coloured leaves, are now edged with white.

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And the frost outlines the box balls, accentuating their crisp, structural qualities.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

Elsewhere, in the garden, the frost picks out the scented shrubs, giving the Mahonia japonica, just starting to flower, the appearance of a sparkling star.

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Most of the flowers are now long gone, but the raspberry flower heads of the sedum, looks like fruits that have been dusted with icing sugar.

And talking of raspberry tones….

Cotinus "Grace"

Cotinus “Grace”

….isn’t the last of Grace’s leaves, stunning etched in white?

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Despite the sterling work done this year by our lovely “Annabelle”, she is still looking wonderful in her old age. As the song says “Silver threads among the gold”.

If this is what winter has in store, then bring it on!

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The Cuttings Calender – October

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The star of the month!

Yes, you have seen this before. This was the vase I prepared before going off on our hols, in “Sun, Sea and Sand“. I was looking for a vase that would still be going strong – or, at least, strongish! – when we came home. And it did what I had hoped! Choosing berries, seed heads and grasses, that would die gracefully, rather than collapse, certainly worked. I do confess that part of me wanted a repeat of the red berry vase I did in September. I did love that, but the simple white roses with hydrangea, pipped it at the post.

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This, my little experiment, you’ve also seen. This little vase was a sample of a cyclamen and viola flower, from my trip to the nursery, to see how they would perform in a vase. The viola flopped – literally! – but the cyclamen lasted well. Sadly the stems are a bit on the short side for its use as anything other than “posies” for example.

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Now this was me trying to be clever! I’d salvaged these three jars, which had once contained some chilli relishes – a Christmas present to “Mr. Chef”. They have such a lovely chunky shape. They stack as well! I had long envisaged them, with flowers, being used together as a table display. The Grass Garden was producing a prolific patch of Aster frikartii “Monch”, which would give me plenty of lilac flowers for cutting, so these jars seemed the ideal receptacle. The table, at this time, is out of action, so I had to make do with a window ledge. I used the golden foliage from a Euonymus as a contrast to the lilac, in the two outer jars, and the silvery grass, Miscanthus “Morning Light”, in the central jar, giving a bit of height and softness. It would look better on our new table, though!

image The surprise, late flowering Jasmine, was a must for a vase!

I feel October was not my most productive month, vase wise. But who’d be without a holiday in the sun! Despite so few vases to show, my stream of displays is still continuous. Perhaps the longevity of the “holiday” vase is to blame! Next month, I hope will be more productive. Let’s wait and see!

In a Vase on Monday – Here’s One I Prepared Earlier!

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Congratulations to Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, for one year of her most enjoyable meme, ‘ In a Vase on Monday”. Her posts are so informative and encouraging – not forgetting beautiful, too!

I, too, strive to have a continuous stream of cut material in the house, having set myself a target of achieving this for one year, at least. Unfortunately, I have rarely taken part in the meme myself, mainly due to working on a Monday, and now coming home in the dark, but I really wanted to join in this week to celebrate Cathy’s achievement. So, I have to spill the beans! As in good old Blue Peter style, “Here’s one I prepared earlier”! My thinking is, that, even though my vase was collected yesterday, it is still in a vase on Monday! Do you agree? I do hope so!

As most of you who join in will probably agree, material is starting to get scarce. I could also name this post as “The Last of the Summer Flowers”, as that was my starting point. I scoured the garden for blooming stragglers, and came up with some Astrantia “Buckland” and a surprise spray of Alchemilla mollis. So they started it off and dictated the colour sceme. Foliage was needed to pad it out and I chose some variegated Ivy to pick up the lemon, and some silvery leaves of Phlomis fruticosa. Our long flowering Coronilla “Citrina” has just started again, (definitely not a summer flower!), so their lemony flowers added scent as well as colour. All that was needed now, was a touch of blue, courtesy of a campanula which is happily self-seeding itself around the garden, and blooming well just now. They add contrast and a trailing element to the composition. Oh, and a solitary Ox-eye daisy, just ready to flower, was added in the centre for good measure.

All that’s left now, is to thank Cathy for her inspiration, and encouragement. Well done on 1 year!

Full Circle – Almost!

Cotinus "Grace"

Cotinus “Grace”

We’ve now had our first frost, so that’s it! I know summer has been hanging on for as long she could, but we can’t deny any longer that autumn is well and truly here and heading towards winter. Please don’t think of me as a merchant of doom! On the contrary, autumn and winter are just as beautiful, with magnificent fiery leaf displays and frosted skeletons. So much to enjoy! But I do miss being able to spend as much time outdoors.

This realisation was re-enforced on my recent walk around the “Estate”, while idling along the scented shrub border. After the flowers of summer and leaves of autumn, this border starts to take on greater importance again. Some of our winter flowering shrubs, are already starting to flower, although one of our summer shrubs is still bravely soldiering on.

Zenobia pulverulenta

Zenobia pulverulenta

I was amazed to notice quite of a few of its lily-of-the valley flowers still nestling among its glaucous leaves. Its aniseed scent was, sadly, not so obvious.

But the main shrub border is definitely showing a wintery trend.

Viburnum farreri

Viburnum farreri

Viburnum is a stalwart of the winter garden, especially where scent is an issue. V. farreri is a large, sprawling, deciduous shrub, lovely at this time of year, when it starts flowering, coinciding with the last of the reddish tinted leaves. The clusters of tiny, white flowers, like miniature “cottonwool balls”, sporadically appear over the shrub throughout winter. This one started in October. The flowers, although small, emit a sweet scent reminiscent of baby powder!

Viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn"

Viburnum x bodnantense “Dawn”

In the flowering hedge, in the front garden, we have another example, the well known Viburnum x bodnantense “Dawn”. It’s a very similar shrub, the flowers being more pink. Here, the blooms are somewhat lost in the mass of dense foliage, but the powdery scent definitely is not!

Skimmia japonica "Rubella"

Skimmia japonica “Rubella”

Back in the Scented Shrub border, Skimmia japonica “Rubella” is revving into gear, providing colour with its ruby-red flower buds. It’s not, as yet, treating us to any of its sweet perfume – that, it’s saving up for spring. This small, evergreen shrub, another winter favourite, courtesy of its flower buds, needs little introduction. I’d go so far as to say it’s the buds rather than the scented flowers, that makes this such a favourite for winter, being widely used as a component in winter pots.

Moving on, and this is where we almost come full circle.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

The Mahonia japonica’s sprays of flowers, are just starting to open. And it’s beautiful, tiny daffodil blooms, perfumed like lily-of-the-valley, was the first subject I wrote about, way back at the start of the year!

And keeping it company….

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

….our Coronilla has started flowering again, having only stopped blooming in early summer. How’s that for longevity!

But despite the promises of winter scent, let’s carry on enjoying autumn, with the burnt orange tones of Cotinus, glowing in the sun, at the start of the post, to another “Stolen Pleasure” of pink forsythia leaves in combination with flowering ivy, at the end.

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