Days shortening, autumn approaching

The current bling in the garden is Lilium henryi flowering its socks off. I’ve grown the elegant creamy version, originally purchased from Glenbrook, for years and it’s never failed to impress, elegant turkscaps drifting above the prickly Austen rose ‘The moth’, and a half finished  painting waits for completion, again put off till next season. Now both the the cream and the original soft orange blooms are nodding in the breeze. The orange bulbs were a happy acquisition last year, thank you Catherine, and have done really well.

Lilium henryi

Lilium henryi

There is a sprinkling of hepaticas in the garden courtesy of the Plantsman whose own garden was a little hot and dry for their liking. He popped them in amongst the galanthus in the creek beds and they seem to have settled in nicely under the deciduous canopy of the willows.  Now I’m a total convert to their miniature jewel like charms and have planted more inside the creek fence despite it being difficult to ensure they’re not thugged out by the heavy duty perennials that I’m struggling to keep in check at the moment. They will flower in spring, delicious little dots of lilac, blue and pink, but in the mean time one can enjoy their attractively trilobed leaves.

The layer of hay that was laid down on the creek beds to prevent the blackbirds/water hen from further spreading the mulch of aged horse manure has been lifted to allow autumn flowering Galanthus reginae-olgae to come through. Unfortunately the aforesaid birds-of-destruction have cottoned on to the presence of the wormy manure layer and are scattering the hay wherever they can get under the layer of bird netting — dammed nuisance.

Buddleia arch

Buddleia arch

Above the accidental Buddleia arch the crocus slope is gradually coming into being. It was originally optimistically imagined as a fast draining scree of soil and gravel on top of the concrete but I’ve since concluded that it will have to remain a collection of pots. Any planting I do on the driveway needs to be easily removeable, just in case it needs to be actually be used as a driveway at some point in the future (admittedly an unlikely scenario)  Several long plastic troughs in a tasteful shade of charcoal have been purchased to house a selection of the hot/dry-loving bulbs, different species being carefully kept apart within each trough by buried sections of milk cartons cut to size. The plan is that by placing these long troughs  across the driveway the problem of water pooling in the lower side of the pots on the steep slope will be alleviated.  I could have created a set of level terraces  using planks (or whatever else came to hand) but that would offer cover and comfort to the snake that has been observed sun baking in that area in previous years and I really prefer not to encourage him.

Perambulations over the last couple of months with the spotted dog through the Cascade gardens and past the rivulet spillway had failed to spy the pied muscovy. I was concerned that he/she may have been accosted by Mr Reynard one evening — but joy! yesterday there he/she was,  paddling slowly and majestically,  bow very low in the water, looking hopefully for tit bits from passers by.   The Cascade bunnies are being supplied with apples and carrots in order to win their trust, poor little suckers, and thus entice them into traps. What happens after that isn’t spelt out clearly on the council sign but there is still quite a party of untrapped individuals gallivanting about.

Peaceful gardening over the last couple of weekends has been punctuated by the sudden appearance of a small pack of two, a German shepherd and a large staffie cross, barking furiously at a nonplussed Spotted dog through the creek gate. With some encouragement from me they went tearing off along the creek (straight across the lower creek beds!) and soon after a cacophony of barking indicated that they were giving the dogs along the ridge a good deal of cheek. A bit later the warning sound of agitated barking from the caged dog a couple of houses away, plus unusual alertness on the part of the Spotted dog, had me ready with hose in hand to aim at their rapidly retreating rear ends. They made a real nuisance of themselves going AWOL for a few days, I was unwilling to take the dog walking around the ridge but no sign of them over the last week so hopefully they’ve been safely confined to barracks by their errant owners.

Peonia mascula ssp. hellenica

Peonia mascula ssp. hellenica

Species peonies are swinging into their second seasonal act as their seed pods ripen, turning themselves inside out to show off  extravagant shiny  black and scarlet combinations. Normally the Plantsman would have me carefully collecting them for sowing later but this year I’ll leave them to ornament the garden.  Nashi pears are ripening with the fruit bigger and better than previously,  the flying fruit disposal service (big gurking wattle birds have just moved in!) have only tried a few topmost pears so far but as soon as they stab the fruit the wasps gleefully take over and hollow it out. Luckily very few wasps in evidence this year, maybe a consequence of the cold winter. The snowberry shrub (Symphoricarpos albus) under the old Kentish cherry has a lovely crop of fat puffy white berries that are great for vases but its wandering ways have placed it on the removal list for this winter.

Brunsvigia ?

Brunsvigia ?

This gorgeous blue creature suddenly appeared in a pot whose contents I had completely forgotten,  for some reason I think it’s a brunsvigia, but Google will only offer me pink, red and white versions. More research required..







One sad casualty of the very wet season seems to be the Acer davisii that I planted for its delightful green and white striped snake bark trunk.  The leaves have failed to develop much past a couple of centimetres,  instead they’re shrivelling and dropping off. I’m also concerned about the health of a precious little pink flowered  Cornus kousa planted in the same bed.  However the Verbena bonariensis have thrived, the flower heads floating happily above my head, mixing it with the golden hornet crabs and welcoming visitors like the one illustrated

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis with friend

Add usual the salvias continue to shine and dahlias, despite showing pressure from over crowding,  are picking up their game now. Another wintery job coming up is separating out the mounds of dahlia tubers in order to replant a select few.

Cyclamen hederafolium

Cyclamen hederifolium’s ethereal blooms

Cyclamen purpurascens and hederifolium  are displaying their first tentative flowers for the season, they’re so delightful I’ve planted out several more from pots in the rocky edges of the path with suitable good fortune-inducing incantations and accompanying bell ringing. C. hederifolium should be happy but that small native digging critter is still  a clear and present danger.

Hydrangea quercifolia Snowflake-

Hydrangea quercifolia Snowflake- trussed up to allow access for window replacement

This week has seen the replacement of the original shabby cold-conducting aluminium fly traps that framed my windows with smart double glazed affairs. The bank balance is groaning but I’m looking forward to a toasty winter.  Window replacement required the moving of many very large pots away from the house walls, brutal pruning of camellias  and the ignominious trussing up of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ with the usual bright blue hay bale twine. The  Oakleaf hydrangea found life good this year, maybe something to do with a failure to prune on my part, and is flowering generously,  gorgeous big panicles of delicate double blooms, greenish cream with hints of pinky russet.

Punk Zoro

Punk dog


Spotted dog sporting his latest look after lurking under the lilies

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