Gardening alone, December 1

November has passed and the first couple of hot windy days have made the massive abundance of spring floweriness  shatter and fly,  nigella and opium poppies are holding more fattening pods aloft than flowers and the roses already need deadheading. Big oriental lilies have blown over in their pots, luckily the buds remain undamaged (so far), and the early flowering Salvia vulgaris are now displaying more bract than flower.

View to brewery

View east  to the brewery

Sadly one victim of the ferocious wind was a beautiful sapling Betula pendula ‘Moss white‘, one of two  carefully nurtured since planting in winter 2014.  I was gazing past the first tree, increasingly puzzled as I looked in vain for its companion, then saw the broken trunk obscured by the forest of opium poppies. It had been ring barked by that blasted grub and the support tie had snapped. The narrow moat cutting through the outer bark had not been sufficiently mended with new growth and my beautiful little tree keeled straight over,  broken at that point. Extremely disappointing as two of the three  Betula utilis var. jacquemontii I planted several years ago  to achieve the same triple white trunk effect  had failed to thrive and eventually died,

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Broken Moss white

The gorgeous Salvia virgata  are flowering for the first time,  bitter sweet reminders of a wonderful week spent travelling the Zagori  region in northern Greece, and the huge, soft fondleable heads of Salvia sclarea are unfolding. I let them seed around and try to steel myself to remove any that place themselves inappropriately. Of course a few always come up in the broken driveway where their roots cannot delve sufficiently deeply so they fall over as soon as their great heavy furry heads  develop.

Clematis are making their understated statements, I haven’t had much luck with the large flowered varieties so have to be satisfied with the more subtle charms of Clematis x durandii, integrifolia and the viticellas — ‘Etoile Violette’, ‘Aotearoa’ and a lovely dusky pink seedling from the Plantsman.

Clematis x durandii and Clematis integrifolia

Clematis x durandii and Clematis integrifolia

The thrill for this season is to have not one but two Cardiocrinum giganticums flowering,  wow, bestowed on me by you know who,  and who would have loved to see them flowering. I’m nonplussed that one managed to put up a six foot stem as thick my wrist crowned with scented lily-like flowers while its bulb nestles in a six inch deep polystyrene box.  So much for a massive and  carefully prepared planting hole as normally recommended. Of course the recommended practice possibly produces three metre stems crowned with twenty or so blooms.

Cardiocrinum giganteum

Cardiocrinum giganteum

Roses are still sputtering along, the mass of spring blooms came and went quickly and now when I look out over the garden from the upper deck there is a better balance between green foliage and bloom colour.The Katherine Morley ring-in produced a couple of beautifully shaped blooms,  still not the correct pretty mid pink shading through paler pink,  but a vast improvement on last year’s muddled effort nonetheless. Now it would be good to see some leafy growth above twelve inches.  Both moyesiis, R.x highdownensis, and Fred Streeter, are doing well and will probably become considerable thorny nuisances,  their flowers are delightful little deep pink discs and I’ve great hopes for a bountiful crop of hips this year. Rosa Nuits de Young was purchased from Glenbrook a few years ago and heeled in in the vegetable garden while I pondered her eventual home. Since then of course she has walked all over the vegetable garden, popping up beside the kale and tomatoes and becoming entangled with the Scarlet runners. One layer has been replanted to beautify the trunk of a struggling apple tree and I must harden my heart and take to the rest with Roundup. Many years ago in another garden I grew a layer of Rosa spinosissima that was  taken from my aunt’s wonderful old garden. Recently a cutting from a plant that I had passed on was returned to me — give and thou shalt receiveth it back when you’ve lost it!

Rosa spinosissima and Rosa 'Nuits de Young'

Rosa spinosissima and Rosa ‘Nuits de Young’

I’ve had to admit to myself that Knautia arvensis has been too  marvellously successful and outgrown its space, flowering madly and leaning over the struggling Iris pallida.  However it too holds a memory, that of walking through a meadow of tall plants on Kedross Plain in Crete,  searching for Iris unguicularis ssp. cretica, Tulipa doerfleri and Fritillaria messanensis.…. so it will remain.

Beautiful little martagons are leading the lily season, most of mine are either pure white or a rather uninspired paleish pink, but I was thrilled to find the red spotted fellow below lurking behind the shed.

Liliums. Red spotted martagon and grayii

Liliums. Red spotted martagon and grayii

Isophysis tasmanica produced a single lovely flower this year, such a simple elegant bloom but it’s struggling with life  in a pot so far from the high slopes of Mount Eliza.

Isophysis tasmanica

Isophysis tasmanica

Hole? me? no, definitely the giant bandicoot

Hole? me? never! must be the giant bandicoot

 

and the last word from the Spotted dog

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One Response to Gardening alone, December 1

  1. Jacqui says:

    The garden holds so many memory cues for you Susan.
    Bittersweetness.
    What a cryng shame about the birches. You may need another. And some very nasty treatment to get rid of the mad grub that weakens them.
    The martagon may have hidden itself…

    Like

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