I’m a bit late taking part in this meme, now hosted by Steve, at Glebe House Garden. But I’m too aware that, even just for my own sake, I’ve not been recording the garden as much as I should have been.
October has been a very mixed month: heavy, ghastly (and depressing) rain, interspersed with week-long periods when the garden was full of heat and sun in rare old Indian summer fashion. We were just going through one of those sunny spells on the eve of Halloween, the day my photos were taken.
The heavy frost wasn’t a complete shock: I checked the weather after dark and managed to rush down and rescue a couple of pots from below, including my precious Cycas revoluta (Sago palm), which always reminds me of time spent working in a Floridean garden, as well as a nice little collection of fancy and scented leaf geraniums bought in the spring.
However, thinking back to last winter, perhaps the mercy mission wasn’t quite so essential. My tender plants are kept in a sun room, where the door is usually shut over night and I try to ensure the temperature is always above 0 C in winter. But this is also the exit for our cats into the garden. Usually this door is shut at night when the cats are inside, but I do remember one sad occasion when I came down in the morning to see two little furry faces locked out in the cold and frantically trying to climb the glass, their yelling mouths wide open at the insult.
Last winter, however, from about the begining of December to end of January I spent quite a lot of time in Scotland and the Bon Viveur was in charge. Unfortunately he sets more store by the cats than my plants, and the door was left continuously open for them. The thermometer showed me that we’d been down to -6 C in there. The point of the story is that the only things that died were my geraniums, broad-leaved penstemons (the most tender sort) and Helichrysum petiolatum. Oh … and one camellia which, I think, just dried out quite a lot. Cycad, olive tree, Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena), Melianthus major and Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’, all came through unharmed. Just shows you, doesn’t it?
Of course some things, such as my miscanthus and Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ are in nice terracota pots – they are over-wintered in the sun room for the sake of the pots, although freezing of a plant’s root system can be damaging. But they are all definitely much tougher than I imagine.
So, on the morning of 31 October, the garden was looking superb with the heavy frost. The Vine Terrace with the BV’s blue pergola always looks particularly special in autumn (this is where the cycad lives, so not too many steps to lug it up to the house!).
From up at the Vine Terrace level I have a satisfying view of the Rose Walk, which does begin to look quite mature.
At the moment more than a few roses are still flowering – originally it was planned to be for old roses only, but I’ve gradually added more of the Bourbons (which repeat) and David Austin’s group. So ‘William Shakespeare’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (Austin) are all still on the go, as well as ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’, ‘Louise Odier’ (Bourbons); ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ is a great climber for staying in flower right through a mild November. In spite of the flowers, you may have seen in my Wordless Wednesday yesterday that they were cruelly treated by the frost.
Those who have paid any attention to my greenhouse drama will be interested to hear that the base is finally finished … et voila! …
…and we can move on to the quicker work of putting the frame up. In fact you can see that some of the parts have already been assembled.
Then it will be painted – don’t ask, we don’t know if it will work, but that’s not putting us off! Finally glazed – all of this only a year and a few days since the time it was delivered! We move quickly.
I was a bit shocked that morning to see that all the BV’s neatly ranged tools had been heavily frosted in the night.
And, walking further down the steps to the veggie plot (this is the map of the garden here if you are lost), I saw that the veggie plot was well and truly hit (yum, yum, lovely parsnips now) …
and my sweet little butternut squashes were covered in rime too.
The BV thinks they look like a line of convicts trying to escape – probably they knew the frost was coming, although I didn’t. Will they survive this and still store well? They were going through their 10-day cure when they were ‘afflicted’.
I was going to join in with Cathy’s Tuesday View meme at Words and Herbs, but to be honest the Long Border is so dreadfully weedy that I was quite pleased when she told me she wasn’t going to be able to do it this week. However, turns out I’m shameless and will show you pictures anyway.
It’s definitely the finest hour for the hazels before we get to the February catkins. This year they are not going to be allowed to do their thing, so I’ll miss them with the snowdrops. But since all the herbaceous plants and roses are now leaning determinedly away from them at a scary angle, I can’t put the regular coppicing off another year.
And their cut stems are terrific for making herbaceous plant supports and weaving into small rustic tripods for clematis. Birch is actually better for the herbaceous plant basket support, because the stems are so supple and interweave beautifully.
The cannas that I’ve been bedding out with the aim of creating a tropical look for late summer were badly frosted – fortunately they are root hardy, now out of the ground (with my banana) and in the cellar.
The grasses and fans of the crocosmia foliage are about the only thing looking good in the border now – although with the backbone shrubs losing their foliage I’m beginning to get glimpses of the red and yellow winter stems of cornus behind.
Gaura lindheimeri – at the front of the picture above – surprised me last winter by surviving temperatures down to below -15 C. I wonder if it is because they were young plants last year? I was told many years ago that plants of dubious winter hardiness come through best if they are young specimens.
And the Sedum spectabile do look exceedingly pretty with the frost on them.
The Hornbeam Gardens are similarly weedy and messy – on the other hand this is the first year that I’ve been able to look down from above (the walk next to the Long Border) and see that, yes, it is beginning to become what I wanted it to be.
Glad I picked my last dahlias and zinnias for the Vase on Monday this week – the frost has now done for them! Interestingly enough the snapdragons look like they still have a bit of mileage left.
Have a wonderful November and do pop over and see the other contributions to End of Month View at Steve’s Glebe House Garden blog.