Tag Archives: Persicaria

The Last of the Summer Wine

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I’m so pleased with our crop of grapes! O.K. – so they’re small, more the size of blackcurrants, really, and all “pip and skin”, but they’re also sweet and delicious. When you consider that the vine, Vitis vinifera “Brant”, was chosen for decorative purposes, to cover the pergola, this is definitely a bonus!

While (sort of) on the subject of wine, my walks around the “Estate”, has revealed a very rosy glow (or should that be, rose?). Now you may be saying to yourselves, “What do you expect? After all it is autumn!” and I agree. This is the time when foliage takes on fiery hues – reds, purples and golds. But these dying embers seem to embrace more than the leaves.

They include flowers,

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– here we have our unknown variety of sedum, their flat, rosy red flower heads, in among the daisy flowers of Aster frikartii “Monch” and Echinacea purpurea –

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– and here we have the rosy red bottle brush spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail” with their complementary coloured leaves. They have been flaming now since the start of the summer, like a veritable bonfire.

They also include grasses,

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such as the wonderful wine velvet inflorescences of Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”, so beautifully soft and tactile, partnered with the similarly coloured Cotinus “Grace” and its contrasting shaped leaves

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and the grass Imperata rubra now joining in the colour scheme. Note the carefully positioned self-seeded Red Orach!

Even the stems want to join in!

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Our Japanese wine berry is making a bolt for it over the box hedge.

Some plants have it all!

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Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) is greedy with its deep wine leaves and stems, and matching flowers and seed heads.

But leaves cannot be ignored!

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Our Hydrangea quercifolia is turning a gorgeous, rich wine shade, with tiny flower remnants turning slightly pink.

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Now to turn this theme on its head! Here, the colour change is in reverse. The normal wine colour of Cercidophyllum japonicum “Red Fox”, is starting to change to buttery yellow. Its somewhat rubbery leaves, turn a lovely shade before shedding and emitting a wonderful scent of burnt toffee! (I had to get scent in here somewhere!) The prospect of this was so irresistible, that even though this is a large tree, unsuitable for the average garden, I had to give it a try in a pot. Probably utter folly, but worth a try! This coloured leaved variety is no so tall as the species, so I may stand a chance. Is this my most unusual scented shrub perhaps? The scent being provided by its shed leaves?

And also, looking in from next door, not wanting to miss out are
some beautiful Hydrangea mop heads.

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More “stolen pleasures”!

All we need now, is to bring some of these rich colours indoors, to light up the house.

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The Summer Garden’s Second Phase

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The Cottage border has now done its thing, and is looking a bit flat and tired out. Even the brave attempts by the Leucanthemum daisies, are now looking a bit half hearted. But all is not over yet.

Travel through the archway, and you’ll find our Grass garden, a border of grasses and hot coloured prairie style planting, that happens to flower later in the summer, providing a well received injection of colour. You’ve had glimpses of it in the past, but now is the time to show you in detail.

Hot Grass border

Hot Grass border

This was the border, as we saw it from the archway, way back in June, when it was just filling out. It’s looking nice and “tidy” (a word I hate when applied to the garden!) at this time, and you can make out the basic layout.

It’s a border about 30ft long by 6ft wide, bounded by two paths – the long central grass path, and a concrete/slab path, that originally ran the length of the garden by the garden wall. The slabs had been removed from the top half of the garden, right at the start, to create our cottage border, but the solid concrete path remained, and has now been incorporated into the gardens designs, as an alternative route round the garden. A gravel path links the concrete path to the Cottage Garden beyond the trellis fence, and has been continued to cut through the Grass border. As the border is so long, with paths either side, I thought it would be nice to link the two paths, creating a path through the planting, to “get up close and personal” with the plants, in particular the oh so tactile grasses. In actual fact, at this time of the summer, it is probably a bit too “close and personal”! More like cutting through the undergrowth – not an easy route!

You can also make out our homemade bench. Two metal gabions, filled with empty wine bottles, and a scaffolding plank across the top. We had fun making that! It’s a lovely, hot sunny spot to sit in, in good weather (with a glass of wine, of course!) Several rusty artefacts have also found their way there, their colouring blending in well with the colour scheme here.

The border is, in actual fact, a combination of three colour-themed borders, merged together.

Firstly, the Chocolate-orange border is the one furthest away in the photo.

Chocolate-orange Border

Chocolate-orange Border

The border is backed by the shrub, Cotinus “Grace”, with its gorgeous, chocolatey leaves. It needs to be hard pruned every spring to maintain its size, as it can grow quite large, but this way it produces improved leaves. Akebia quinata, the chocolate vine, clambers over the archway. The orange flowers here are Helenium “Moorheim Beauty”, and the remnants of flowers and seed heads of Crocosmia “Lucifer”. The spires you see, are the dead flower spikes of Digitalis parvifola. Geums and Kniphofia continue providing more orange elements. The grasses here are Stipa gigantea, the bronze Carex buchananii and Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”, with its wonderful chocolate/wine plumes.

Miscanthus "Ferner Osten" with Cotinus "Grace"

Miscanthus “Ferner Osten” with Cotinus “Grace”

The central section is the Wine border.

Wine Border

Wine Border

Here, the colour scheme is of deep winey reds, with Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”, Sedum, Knautia macedonia, Sanguisorba menziesii and the annual self-seeder, Atriplex hortensis rubra all set off with the silver Artemisia ludoviciana, and pink Echinacea purpurea. The grasses here are the upright Calamagrostis “Overdam”, the ethereal Molinia “Transparent” and the silvery fountain that is Miscanthus “Morning Light”.

The Grass Border finishes (or starts, depending on how you look at it!) with the Gold border, in shades of golden yellow contrasting with blues and purples.

Gold Border

Gold Border

The gold is provided mainly by the flowers of Fennel and of an unknown perennial Helianthus. At the back of the border, the steely blue orbs of globe thistle, Echinops ritro, tower over 6 ft tall. Thalictrum delavayi, with its lilac froth of flowers blends well with the fennel, creating a very hazy scene, punctuated by spots of purple provided by Phlox “Nicky”. Aster x frikartii “Monch”, is yet to add its lilac flowers to the froth. Elsewhere, there are the blue spires of Perovskia, Veronica, and, earlier, Salvia, with added gold shades from an orange Hemerocallis. Another Calamagrostis, the green “Karl Foerster”, repeats the punctuation provided by the previous silver edged “Overdam” and, sadly, a Melica Atropurpurea, with its beautiful purple plumes, struggles to break through.

You may also have noticed popping up, the purple flower heads of Verbena bonariensis, allowed to self seed throughout the whole border, its repetition linking the three borders together.

And when this border has finished its flowering, it’s still not over. Flowers have been chosen, that have interesting seed heads and shapes, to remain with the dead grasses, giving texture and interest into autumn, and hopefully winter, when frost creates yet another beautiful picture.

There you have it! A riot of colour! Hope you like it!