First, and most exciting, things first, the latest addition to the family, meet young Thomas
Now back to the garden — cold mornings with a pink suffused mountain, autumn leaves now scattered underfoot, looking wonderful lighting up the ground, but leaving the trees bereft till spring. All except for the Pyrus calleryana (labelled as Pyrus ussuriensis, ie Manchurian Pear) that releases its brilliant gold and red leaves very reluctantly, later even than the walnut next door. Possibly a good thing that it was mislabelled as the fastigiate habit is much less intrusive considering its foolish placement! Over the month that I’ve been trying to finish this post even the pear now is only clinging to a few rag tag leaves and the red gold littering the lawn has turned to black.
A couple of sharply frosty mornings later in the month with snow wending its way down the mountain side have set the coral bark maple gleaming red stems again, this year connecting colour wise with both the deep pink racemes of Salvia karwinskii and the new shiny red fence backdrop to the lower lily garden. The impact of the red fence might be a little too much when the green scarlet runners that are currently crawling over it have died down, and there is only the Salvia Costa Rica blue that grew itself from a pruning used as a lily stake left. The plan was a triple red/pink connection through winter and early spring with a red flowering chaenomeles that is still only a knee high to a grasshopper…
Diminutive hydrangea ‘Pia’ has lit up this little corner at the edge of the lower deck for the last couple of months, simplest things can give so much pleasure
Wintery flowering Salvia karwinskii has been budding up and waving long canes about, sadly they tend to be smashed together with its companion the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk spike of Dahlia imperialis when we get the inevitable cyclonic winds, pity I didn’t follow this advice “When new growth gets to a metre high, nip the tips out. The canes won’t get as tall but will be sturdier and more resistant to wind damage.” Closer inspection of both plants revealed damage from those recent hard frosts that had me washing ice off the windscreen with numb fingers in the morning —
The employment of a SYM, aka a Strong Young Man, resulted in the removal of one sad standard Malus Echtermeyer to a position that will hopefully suit it better, maybe even encourage it to strive for the description that encouraged its purchase in the first place, ie. “A graceful, weeping tree with bronze leaved pendulous branches that are covered in masses of rose crimson flowers”. He also lopped to the ground a couple of monster pittosporums and two useless plum trees (plus a whole lot of other minor stuff). The plum tree removal has had the sad effect of revealing the bottom shed far too clearly but I’m planning their replacement with one of the Jury Fairy magnolias (syn. Michelia) that has languished in a pot for over a year now.
More snowdrops pushing through, Galanthus ‘Three ships’ has been flowering for a month or so, The Pearl, Rodmarten , Maidwell L , Mrs. Mcnamara, Yvonne Hay and some of the elwesiis are following close behind. Plus a lovely unnamed child with charming soft green inverted ‘v’s on each outer petal. It’s possibly a hybrid seedling that planted itself as I found it growing in a buildup of used potting mix and general debris near the named galanthus pots at 400. Can’t believe it is already nearly a year since I was picking and photographing them under the Plantsman’s watchful eye
Various Narcissus romeuxii are flowering, mostly delightfully delicate pale yellow. I struggle to remember the range of named varieties but they are all beautiful and I rather like a mix of slightly different seedlings. I’m very impressed with my single bloom of Narcissus bulbicodium obesus (?– labelled as Glenbrook’s Olumbo but I don’t think so) a bright yellow fully fat fellow.
Nicotiana still soldiering on, an amazingly good value plant but getting tired after two years, I must sow seed for a new batch, its a fabulous filler and also long lasting as a cut flower.
I had an interesting encounter when I pulled out the horse’s super heavy winter rug now the nights are getting really cold. I like to check the lining after it has been hanging up in the shed for six months or so and shake out any spiders that have taken up residence. This time, after hoisting the rug over my shoulder and carrying it across the paddock before giving it a bit of a shake out on the ground, I was totally surprised to find a small oblong furry creature clinging firmly to the rug lining, after the initial ‘dead mouse’ reaction it took a couple of moments to recognise that it was a very sleepy wee bat. After carefully returning the little bat to hang on to a spare rug stored in the dark shed further inspection uncovered a dopey European wasp and a huntsman that required re-housing.
A couple more troopers keeping on making lovely little pictures in the midst of winter desolation, Salvia Indigo spires falling all over Euphorbia myrsinites and next door icy pink Silene dioica threaded with Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue oat grass)
The winter flowering crocus are showing their little faces now, I’m increasingly obsessed…
The browny gold one is labelled C. cancellatus lycius but that’s very unlikely, my untutored guess is C. x paulinae, a natural hybrid between C. ancyrensis and abantensis …. and next door is one of the C. nubigena group
And this crocus collected by the Plantsman and I in 2012 on the very small and very delightful Greek island of Ikaria as one of the Crocus nubigena group, now established by Janis Ruskans as a separate species, Crocus harveyi.
Strange to think when we were scrabbling around on that ridge in Ikaria collecting the seed we had no idea that five years later it would carry his name.
Spotted dog isn’t too keen on winter, he’d like to move to Noosa, sometimes I think I’d like to join him