Not so quiet

Dahlia Karma Choc
Karma Choc

And unseasonably warm. I was going to post in October about the becalmed weather we were having interspersed with cruel north easterlies – it didn’t happen.

Today we’re getting a pummelling from the first ‘proper’ South Westerly winds and splattery rain of the autumn season, this’ll bring leaves down and scatter the pools of dead leaves which have been quietly accruing under the apple and hazel trees.


What fabulous autumn colour this year! Some trees in particular lit the landscape with vibrant rich butter yellows including a large Quaking Aspen up the road. Cherries including the wild cherries of the roadside provided rich emberglowing highlights.

The ‘fall’ hasn’t all happened at once, the Horse Chestnuts went early (the leaves not so moth eaten this year), the ash dropped very quickly, then apples, hazels and birches started, now the oaks are finally letting go too. The Bramley apple trees have been unburdening for weeks it seems, the thud of falling apples startling me on still days, crossing fingers none were too close to the greenhouse.

Love me tender

We had a couple of frosts in October but nothing to dampen the spirits of still rampant nasturtiums, I’ve had to start pulling them up as they’re swamping other plants stem rooting as they go. The Dahlia flowers have started to moulder on the stem but again have not yet been felled. Karma Choc from Sarah Raven has been a favourite.

This warm descent towards the shortest day does mean that I’ve had longer to take cuttings of tender plants and am stilling moving tenders into various winter hideaways. The trumpets of a brugmansia still outside are being blown horizontal by the wind as I write.

Salvia concolor
Salvia concolor

Salvias picked up as autumn advanced and cooler moister conditions prevailed. Salvia concolor looks healthier than it did all summer, the furry purple tails of S leucantha add vibrant colour still but the shrub is slowly falling apart under its own weight section by section. I’ve had to curb Hot Lips which was romping over Iris Gingerbread Man and other lower growers. The orange spiked S confertifolia will probably be downed by this wind.

Dahlia imperialis is at least 10 feet tall now but no flowers again this year, maybe if we’d had a less gloomy August it would have been different. Lovely fluffy grass Pennisetum Red Head is already shutting its leaves down, the flowers are there but not coming out, again maybe because of August?

Winter prep

The first Iris sextylosa flowered last week the violet flushed white flowers pristinely beautiful until bruised by rain. The winter flowering jasmine appears to be early this year? I’ve seen a number in full flower already.

Recently planted Anenome coronaria are putting up fresh leaves and Arum creticum is unfurling leathery leaves. Crocus speciosus is doing its collapsy all over the place thing, but I think I shall add more. Nascent catkins are already showing on the hazels.

I guess I shall have to continue the slow soggy retreat of plants into the greenhouse (which I should have tidied better before starting to put the plants in). I’ve enjoyed Thunbergia gregorii this year with bronzed fluffy flower buds and seed pods and really zesty orange flowers which are still appearing intermittently – I’d like to try and keep it going. Picked two of the last white gladioli Bangladesh to go with the tail end of the dahlias last week.

I had such a lovely show from Digitalis trojana earlier in the year but all the plants are now flowered and dead so have departed to the compost heap which’ll leave space for the lavender to breathe. I must sow seed and start again but where to put them?

Another plant I really enjoy is grass Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea tall growing airy arching fronds weighed at the tips by long lasting flowerheads all summer. It will soon die back now but has put on autumn colours of tawny yellow.

This spring we put a bat box up which as far as we know has no residents, in late summer we finished the new timber clad extension and 2 bats moved into the gaps between boards and cladding within weeks of the roof going on (winter or summer roost? Only time will tell). The moles have found all our newly created flower beds and the lawn is like a water bed to walk on we’re so riddled with tunnelings – hey ho!

And on a final note: hats off to Dobies seeds for their re-think on how to present seeds in their recent catalogue – I may not have bought but enjoyed the read!