Rainfall today has varied between heavy and torrential with the gutters failing to contain the flow from the roof on several occasions. Gardening is out of the question!
What to do on days such as this to pass the time? When the weather is not quite so bad; when rain abates for a few moments, I like to dash out with the camera and set myself the challenge of finding ten pretty things. This sparks the mind for the few minutes outdoors and gives the pastime of editing the photographs on return indoors and today, I’ll use yesterday’s dash and yesterday’s photographs to write and post a short blog.
I’m going to take them as they are automatically organised in the photo albums on the laptop, in alphabetic order:
Acer palmatum with good autumn colour with the foliage of a rhododendron and the brown flowerheads of Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ beneath. A peculiarity of this acer is that it threw a very attractive shoot from the base – it was grafted – with finely-cut foliage, almost preferable to that shown above. As such, it is a plant of two faces for the growth with the divided foliage is more prominent at the other side.
Bergenia ‘Ballawley’ came from the now defunct Ballawley Nursery in Dublin and, when temperatures drop in autumn, its leaves turn to these rich redish/purplish colours.
Clerodendron trichotomum can be, and is, a bit of a nuisance in the garden as it is very inclined to sucker about and one has to be ruthless and pull out those which come up through other shrubs or go beyond where one wishes to allow it to grow. However, it has attractive white flowers when in bloom and these ever so different and peculiarly coloured berries at this time of the year so we must tolerate its faults to enjoy its attractions.
For the most part, Cyclamen hederifolium has finished flowering here – though there is one bed with good shelter where they continue to do so. Even without the flowers, this cyclamen is a very attractive plant, with great variation in the patterning on the foliage among the many seedlings which grow around the garden.
This is Cyclamen purpurascens. I felt really chuffed when a gardener at Villa Balbianello, on Lake Como, gave me a corm of this cyclamen. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it grew wild there all along the rockface in the walk up to the villa and in the woodland around it – it is a wildflower there, in other words – and the gardener was in effect simply weeding the garden and giving me one of his weeds! One man’s weed is another man’s treasured garden plant and so it is with this cyclamen. It seems to flower forever and, having started in mid-summer, is still in full flower here. It is also self-seeding here so that it will increase in numbers as they years pass and I notice that one of the seedlings, peeping in on the right hand corner, is of a darker pink than the parent.
It won’t be long until the first yellow spidery flowers appear on this witch-hazel but, in the meantime, we can enjoy the foliage in autumn colour. This was the first witch-hazel we planted in the garden, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ though we now have our doubts that it is true to name as the flowers are of a stronger yellow than those described for ‘Pallida’. However, they are still perfectly beautiful and, given the age of the shrub, now give a great display.
Helleborus niger, The Christmas Rose, is stealing the lead on Christmas, flowering a little ahead of normal season. The bright white flowers stand out very well in the dull light of mid-winter and are one of the highlight plants of this time of year.
Lophosoria quadripinnata is a big fern, in the same family as the the more commonly planted Dicksonia antarctica, the tree fern. We have it planted in a sheltered corner and it has reached two metres X one metre and looks like it will continue to grow further. It is attractive all year round but especially so in autumn/winter when brighter things have gone out of flower.
June Blake’s Cowslip (Primula ‘June Blake) challenging the season and flowering well ahead of its normal time. This began life as a seedling in June Blake’s garden and was distributed from there so has the additional attraction of the connection with a wonderful gardener and plantswoman.
Senecio (roldana) petasitis is in the same family of that pest wildflower, Ragwort, Senecio jacoboea, and has flowers which are equally unattractive, a garish rough yellow, so it is grown purely for its attractive foliage
Finally, something to brighten the day: A copy of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Daffodil, Snowdrop and Tulip Yearbook arrived in this morning’s post and I am happy to see an article I wrote, illustrated by my own photographs, included.