I am loving the fact that a carefully planned and planted garden can provide changing interest all year round, even in autumn and over winter. Now that many of the autumnal leaves have been blasted off the trees by last week’s gales, it is now the remaining flowers and seedheads that catch the eye in the Shades of Green garden. Here are just some of the things that I snapped on a quick walk around the garden this lunchtime:
In the front garden, the seedbeds of the ornamental grasses Miscanthus sinensis, Calamagrostis brachyticha, Deschamspia cespitosa and Stipa tenuissima are waving their tawny plumes next to Foeniculum ‘Atropurpureum’, Eupatorium ‘Atropurpureum‘, Acanthus spinous, Sedum ‘Matrona’ and Phlomis russelliana. All, apart from the Bear’s Britches (Acanthus), all will remain standing throughout the winter months, catching the frost and providing a framework for the garden spiders to build their dew-catching webs.
In various places round the garden, fresh flowers of Schizostylis major make me smile every time I pass them. This cultivar, ‘Mrs Hegarty’ sits next to the larger flowered ‘Fenland Daybreak’ which came from my late mother’s garden, and elsewhere the darker flowered Schizostylis coccinea, brought from my father-in-law’s garden in Edinburgh when they moved to Dollar, is similarly floriferous.
I know people love to hate pampas grass, and I have to agree that if it is beached in the middle of a lawn it doesn’t look great, but this Cortaderia sellanoa clump came from our family garden in Huyton and it doesn’t even think about flowering until at least October up here in Scotland. But how lovely to see those fresh plumes high above my head as I pass it on the way to the shed during autumn tidy-up sessions!
I absolutely LOVE hardy geraniums – there are some for just about every garden situation imaginable and some species flower profusely all summer long. Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’ has been flowering at the back of a border, in the lee of a beech hedge all summer long, and it is still going. I was going to say that it is great value for money but, as it is spreader that often appears on plant stalls, it often doesn’t cost very much to get it into your garden in the first place.
Shrub roses – what fantastic do-ers they are! This one, Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’ flowers all summer long and has even been know to be flowering on Christmas Day, in mild winters. It may suffer from blackspot, but that is a small price to pay for such rich colour and a lovely fragrance.
An unknown cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla, this shrub may well have been growing by our front door for over 50 years. I cut it back hard when we arrived in the house 12 years ago and, after one flowerless summer, it has rewarded us with flowers and fabulous autumn foliage ever since. This is one of the ones that always reminds me of older ladies flowery swimming hats (now I am showing my age) but it makes me smile because of that.
Tricyrtis formosa, the toad lily, is often thought of as a plant that likes shady places with moist soil, but this clump, in full sun and in an area of the garden that dries out in warm summers, never fails to flower (and spread around) in my front garden. I think it may have come from the family garden in Huyton originally ….
The ageing flowerhead of Sedum ‘Matrona’ look as good now as they did when they first budded up earlier in the summer. I have various other Sedum cultivars that flop about in other parts of the garden, but this clump, with a little help from a supporting cage, always looks good and lasts well into the winter.
Anaphalis triplinervis is one of the first of the perennials to emerge in the spring (and it usually emerges across a wide area and needs to be curtailed with a sharp spade) and one of the last to need cut down in the autumn. The white button flowers on silvered, hairy leaves look great with ornamental grasses and with other perennials. Another great plant to share about amongst your friends!
So far, all the plants shown have been perennials or grasses, but of course the hardy annuals are still going strong in the garden too. I am still picking Nasturtium and Calendula (annual marigold) flowers to go into salads, whilst Cosmos and Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) are still providing lots of flower colour in some areas of the garden.
So, here we are, on 4 November 2014, with the sun due to set setting at 16.27, and the garden is still very much earning it’s keep. You just need to know what to plant ……