Autumnal Beauties

We had our first frost in Dollar last night, with more to come tonight, and that inspired me to take a wander around the garden before starting work to capture what is still looking good so late in the year…


There are still plants in the garden that are in full flower – this is one of my favourites, Tryctis – the toad lily. I grow this in full sun, in quite dry soil underneath Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, where it is spreading rapidly and grows to about 80 cm tall. Tryctis is often said to be a woodland plant, preferring partial shade and damp soil, but I guess my plant hasn’t read the RHS plant encyclopedia!


Fuschia riccatonii
A great late flowerer, with an exotic looking flower that belies its hardiness. I rescued these plants from the front border of my garden before the mini-digger moved in and replanted them in a narrow border underneath the front room window, where they have established well and form a metre high flowering ‘hedge’ in late summer and autumn. I cut them down to ground level each spring, just before the new growth starts, so all this foliage is this year’s growth. It never ceases to amaze me.


Another jewel of autumn gardens – Nerine bowdenii. I have struggled to find the right place for these spectacular bulbs – they like hot, dry places where they can grow undisturbed. I am hoping that this plant will now bulk up and form a colony, but I will have to wait until next year to see. I hope that the surrounding Anamanthele lessonaria (Pheasant Tail Grass) doesn’t create too much shade for the bulb…


Sometimes it is the simplest things that please the most. The mid-green, veined, leaves and delicate flowers of Viburnum x bodnantse ‘Dawn’ lie next to the autumn foliage of the red stemmed dogwood, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ in this view from my office window. In front of this pair is the heavily berried Cotoneaster with its shiny, dark green leaves that I showed in my September blog post. All three have leaves of similar shapes and sizes but with contrasting textures & colours … as I said, it is the simple pleasures…


The freshly emerged plumes of the pampas grass Cortaderia sellanoa look amazing at this time of year. Yes, I know that many folks wouldn’t have this plant in their gardens, with its 1970’s connotation of neat suburban front gardens but, in mixed planting, I think it truly is a stunner. As an added benefit, sparrows love to use the fluff to line their nests in the spring and watching their antics and they try to wrest a beak-full free from the stalk is highly amusing. It’s a bit like an avian high wire act!

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