Autumn-flowering camellia

A few weeks ago Mum mentioned that she had a very pretty pink camellia coming in to flower. She was a bit surprised as she’d only ever had them flower in spring – well, a minute or two on Google cleared that up and informed us both that there are indeed autumn-flowering varieties, usually single-flowered.

We visited Mum today so I took a couple of photos of the camellia as it’s really very pretty. I might have to look out for an autumn-flowering one myself!

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First frost

This morning there was frost on the car windscreens – the coldest night we have had so far this autumn. In Scotland and northeast England there has apparently been some snow overnight, but we’re a lot further south (thankfully – I am not a fan of snow!).

But the first frost is a sign that I have almost been too late in moving our less hardy plants into the greenhouse. A couple of weeks ago I cut all the remaining tomatoes off the plants and brought them in to ripen but hadn’t got round to disposing of the plants. So I have just done exactly that. Then I remembered the crocuses and tulips that I still hadn’t done anything with, so I planted them in various containers. Finally after some tidying up I had room in the greenhouse for the cordyline, the Canary palm, the Torbay palm, the osteospermum, and the pelargonium that survived from last year. Whether the pelargonium makes it to another summer remains to be seen.

After that I had a little look round the garden, which is untidy and full of weeds and dead leaves of course. There is colour dotted about, which is good – two penstemons are still flowering, a dark red one from a cutting Mum gave me, and the pink and white “Flamingo” which suffered a bit in the very hot summer but seems to have recovered well.

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The abelia, which flowered for the first time last year, is covered again and seems to be trying to outdo itself:

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But the thing I am most excited about…


is this:

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That is the first garlic to appear. It’s the only one so far, and for all I know it will continue to be the only one, but as J remarked, it’s proof of concept.


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Rainy autumn Sunday

It’s miserable out there so I’m posting some photos I took earlier in the week when it was still warm and dry! It’s been unusually warm for the time of year but since Friday it’s been wetter and windier, and it’s getting a bit cooler now. Last weekend I got a new phone with a better camera than my old one so I’ve been testing it out a bit during the week, and these are some of the results.

In the front garden, on Monday and Wednesday, I took these:

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Lots of these ladies in the garden at the moment:

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In the troughs under the window, most things are doing well – violas:

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Santolina “Lemon fizz”:

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Artemisia “Oriental Limelight”:

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But you can see that one of the santolinas has died, for no apparent reason – the other is fine. I should replace the dead one at some point, but it’s finding the time to get one.

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In the back garden on Thursday, I took all the fruit that was ok or even still remotely viable off the tomato plants. They’re all in the house now and continuing to ripen up – there may be onions, garlic and freezing in their near future. It’s nice in the middle of winter to defrost a home-made pasta sauce containing your home-grown tomatoes for a quick and easy meal.

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The hypericum is flowering again – it does seem to enjoy a second go around this time of year:

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The hardy fuschia has been doing well:

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And the scabious I got half price a couple of months back has settled in well:

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A couple of weeks back when Mum and I went to the garden centre I bought two outdoor cyclamen to go under the tree at the end of the garden. I never have much luck with them but these looked like nice sturdy ones so fingers crossed. (Yes, there are dead leaves everywhere. I leave them lying for the wildlife. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

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We have berries on the cotoneaster but it won’t be long before the birds spot them and strip the lot.

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Verbena bonariensis is flowering away, though the stems are shorter than they’ve been in previous years. The one in the back garden was late getting going this year, though, and for a while I thought we’d lost it.

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And the rosemary is flowering (we’ve made good use of it in the kitchen this year too).

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The other garden centre bargain from a couple of weeks back was this – Mum and I both bought one, it’s a hardy geranium called Orkney Cherry and has been happily flowering away in its new home.

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And no autumn round-up would be complete without a picture of the Virginia creeper looking gorgeous.

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We still have flowers

Thankfully, though it’s distinctly autumnal out there and I’ve broken out the cardigans and woolly socks, there are still plants doing well and keeping on flowering. The front garden gets a bit forgotten about as there are so many evergreens and other shrubby things that just sit there all year round, but yesterday I took a few quick photos of flowers when I got in from work:

Salvia “Hotlips” is still magnificent:

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The verbena that came with the value pack of perennials I got last autumn has done well (some sedum in the background here):

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And the rose is still flowering. No fragrance, which is a pity.

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Last week Mum and I made a very quick garden centre visit and bought a couple of things – some half price hardy geraniums and in my case a couple of outdoor cyclamen. I never have much luck with cyclamen but these looked pretty sturdy plants so I’m hoping they’ll survive. So those have helped to fill in some gaps in the back garden. There’s still a fair bit of colour about, and I’ll probably take a few more photos next weekend. It’s been wet and miserable here today so not a good day for photos.

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Keeping going

There’s more happening in our garden than we realise, sometimes. I’ve been thinking everything’s giving up and going over but after a wander to do some watering this morning I felt inspired to snap a few pictures as there’s still a bit of colour about.

The back garden is still looking reasonably neat (and from this distance you can’t see the weeds):


We have a salvia in a pot that’s still doing well – I grew this from a cutting last year, taken from the one in the front garden that was originally a cutting from Mum (phew!):


The dwarf hydrangea’s vibrant pink flowers are starting to fade but I do like to leave them over the winter.


Several plants are having a late second flush – notably lychnis, geranium himalayense and fuschia – while the half-price scabious I bought a few weeks back seems to have settled in well.


Tucked away in the corner by the greenhouse is a mahonia which I tend to forget is there, snuggled up to the flowering currant and somewhat overshadowed by its louder, larger cousins nearer the house. Unlike them with their simple yellow flower spikes, this one has a lovely burnt orange hue.


And this year’s random self-seeded flower is a nicotiana. I haven’t grown any for a few years so it’s anyone’s guess where it came from.


Meanwhile at the front, it’s all about the sedum:


Looking back, I posted an almost identical photo a year ago!

The salvia “Hot Lips” has been spectacular again this year and I must have another go at taking cuttings. Last year’s cuttings didn’t make it, apart from the one I gave to Mum. I think that says more about my lack of skill at long term plant care than I’d like to admit.


The plants in the troughs are mostly doing well, though one of the santolinas is already suffering:


And we have more garden spiders than ever – any casual meander around is fraught with the risk of walking into an unfeasibly large web.


We have a hedgehog house at the bottom of the garden now, so maybe there’ll be some bigger visitors too.

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Winding down

There’s a definite feel of autumn about and everything seems to be slowing down now. Compared to last year we have very little colour in the garden but then, last year we grew lots of annual rudbeckia and all that lovely blue clary.

We do have some bits and dots of colour – the hardy fuschia is flowering, the little hydrangea is doing really well and the snapdragons and lychnis are having a second go. But we might need to have a think about what else we grow next year to try and prolong the flowering season, especially if the very hot weather we had this year is going to become the norm.

I’ve had a little potter about this morning, just to do a few small tasks. We have a big pile of cut/uprooted stuff from our major tidying day a couple of weeks back, because there was too much to fit in the garden waste bin. The bin gets emptied every two weeks, so sometimes we just have to pile the stuff up and wait for bin day. I filled it up on Thursday and it was emptied on Friday, and I have just filled it again this morning, but there’s still a lot left over.

I also cut the rest of the foliage off the tomato plants. There’s a lot of fruit but it’s slow to ripen now. The blossom end rot put paid to a lot of fruit early on – it’s caused by irregular watering, but when the weather was so hot it didn’t make any difference how careful we were as the plants dried out between waterings anyway.

The one thing I really wanted to do was sort out the strawberry plants. They’re obviously happy as we had a lot of fruit this year and they are sending out loads of runners again, like they did last year. Mum lost all her strawberry plants this year so I am trying to get the runners to take so she can have them. Last year’s came in handy for filling in gaps and seem to have done well. So the runners are being coaxed into pots of compost in the hope they will put down roots.

Our local council has issued us with new bins for recycling, which means that our old crates (black for glass, green for paper and card, blue for plastics and tins…) are now redundant. I have plans for them for next year, which revolve around the possibility of growing a few more veg. We’ll see. It certainly seems a shame to just send them back for recycling, which is the other option, as they are really too battered to use for storage. Watch this space!

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Filling the gaps

Yesterday I took Mum to a garden centre we hadn’t visited before. She had some gift vouchers to spend and it was a good excuse to try a new place. We both did pretty well – her vouchers came in handy for a couple of new roses, and we found quite a bit of reduced or special offer stuff as well. I needed something new for the troughs under the living room window and wanted to try more long-lasting plants rather than having to do a complete change twice a year – a bit of continuity is always good! I also needed a plant for a rat burial, and after last week’s marathon tidying session anything I could get cheaply to fill in gaps was going to be welcome.

So for the troughs, I went for a couple of cineraria, which should see us through well into next summer, plus two santolina “Lemon Fizz” and two artemisia “Oriental Limelight”, which should last well and can be split if they get too big. In amongst them I’ve planted some viola “Coconut duet” for instant colour – these should continue to flower through the winter.SONY DSC

In the reduced section I found a couple of half-price plants – a blue scabious and a pink veronica. I have a white veronica but the pink was so pretty I couldn’t resist it (Mum bought one too). And all my scabious seem to have turned up their toes this year so I need to replace them. The veronica had quite a dense hard rootball so I split it into two clumps, and all three then went into the bed by the greenhouse, where J pulled up a lot of snow-in-summer on Monday – we are trying to encourage it to soften the edges of beds rather than take over the whole surface. So this area looks rather scruffy at the moment. Let’s hope they look better by next summer.


For the rat burial I got a little Torbay palm (a variety of cordyline) and a smart new pot, plus new pot feet to help with drainage.


Finally, a couple of plants in pots that have been looking good this week – heuchera “Ginger Ale”, which had a shaky start back in the spring but is doing really well now:


And a little osteospermum which I bought reduced a few months back when the plant over another rat burial died and I needed a replacement in a hurry. It’s been steadily putting out flowers, just a few at a time, all summer.


It’ll probably need to overwinter in the greenhouse but that’s not a problem.

All in all I feel as though we’re starting to get things under control again.


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