Fast and Slow.

The weekend brings a barrowful of gardening blogs and there has been several mentions of the season moving along; that we are leaving the brighter and hotter days of summer behind and that the change to autumnal weather is clearly perceptible. It is a milder, gentler season I feel and more appealing to me than high summer. I found those especially hot days we experienced in mid-summer this year particularly uncomfortable and, at times, thought it was dangerously tiring to work in the garden in those conditions. The gentler temperatures of spring and autumn suit me much better.

A sense of autumn in the garden: Fallen Eucryphia blossom in The Lane.

Neil, “Yeah, Another Blogger” was ahead of this gardening posse as he wrote along the same lines earlier in the week with a post featuring a photograph for each of the months of the year to date. Obviously, this perception of time passing has been noted internationally – Neil lives near Philadelphia. I agreed with Neil on how the months do seem to have passed so quickly but commented that, in contrast, for me the days seems to drag on ever so slowly and tediously. This is, I feel, because of the continuing Covid situation. In a country of five million we have had over 2,000 Covid cases on three days of this past week, the highest numbers since January last, and this despite a much lauded high uptake of the vaccine with 3,586,658 people after receiving their first dose of vaccine and 2,987,398 their second dose (as of August 20th). We have continued to live what we would describe as a careful lifestyle with as little social contact as possible. Video reports on television of people gathering for various reasons – bars, restaurants, sporting events etc – are in stark contrast to our lifestyle and there are moments when I wonder if we are simply being over-careful, over-fearful but as I write the reader on the evening news has reported that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has warned that “A large wave of cases is possible in the weeks ahead” and advises that it is best to avoid any large gatherings of people. Tomorrow, we will have a sporting event with an expected, and permitted, attendance of 40,000 which will be the largest gathering of people since the pandemic arrived here in Ireland. There appears to me to be chasm between expert advice and social behaviour which I cannot understand.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow: The grass was cut!

In the meantime, we have continued to pass our days in the garden with a few good jobs done during the week and some nice plants in flower also. Painting projects have continued as a sideline and as a pastime on rainy days. A pair of wooden gates needed some repair and have had a colour change from the deadly dark of over thirty years of applied Sadolin to Natural Sage, quite a change and a very pleasant one. We have had ivy growing on the gable end of the house for about twenty five years and the twice-annual tidy up has become an unwelcome chore so we decided to take it all down and it came amazingly easy, almost in one great big sheet. This has lead to the need to repaint the plinth…and the windowsills and door surrounds! One thing always leads to another! Of a more horticultural nature, the grass was cut and edged, there was more shredding so that the compost bin presently in operation is now full; the contents of an older compost bin was moved to a smaller on to allow space for coming material; a beech hedge was cut and the autumn-flowering snowdrops, Galanthus reginae olgae, which I grow in the glasshouse were repotted and watered and should flower in about a month’s time.

The beautiful Agapanthus inapertus is just into flower.

Autumn is most certainly with us when the Japanese anemones come into flower: The beautifully clean white Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ is the most prolific here but planted where it can’t roam about too much. They can become a nuisance in the garden and are a terrible bother to remove if you wishes to be rid of them. They suit the wilder spots very well and are the easiest of plants to grow, reliable and requiring very little effort.

The cannas seem to take an age to come into flower and it is as well that they have large and attractive foliage which, alone, make a good impact in the garden. When they do eventually come into flower, they are a perfect delight and prove that the wait was very worthwhile.

There are a few attractive flowering shrubs and trees in full display at the moment and worth a mention. Clerodendrum trichotomum is grown as a small tree or large shrub, depending on training, but is most often seen as an unruly large suckering shrub which needs to be kept in control or it would quickly take over a large area of the garden. It has come into flower in the past week or so and it attractive at the moment but I really look forward to when it has set its seed as they are a striking, eye-catching blue. I’m jumping the gun by several weeks to show the berries as this photograph is from September of last year.

Hoheria sexstylosa is a small evergreen tree native to New Zealand and perfectly suited to our gardens. It is rather pushed in among other large shrubs and trees in this border in the garden and generally doesn’t catch the eye until it comes into flower at this time of the year.

We had commented that Koelreutheria paniculata, with the common name of Golden Rain Tree, didn’t look like it was going to come into flower this year at all but it came to full flower all of a sudden during the week and is putting on a very good display this year – though the flower panicles are high in the tree and not so easily enjoyed except in the morning when the light catches them perfectly. The flowers will be followed by a bladder-like seedpod.

Finally, Crinum x powellii and Crinum x powellii ‘Album’ are into flower and are a good note to finish this week’s roundup of the gardening week:

19 thoughts on “Fast and Slow.

  1. I think we are all feeling the confusion over whether to attend gatherings because we are allowed to, or to avoid groups as NPHET advise. I think we are all heartily sick of the restriction, the masks and the numbers we hear every day. Those of us lucky enough to have a garden to keep us busy have been fortunate – but even the tidiest garden loses its appeal after a while. No doubt it will become part of our past at some point but the Covid Present is definitely still with us. Keep safe! Hazel

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    1. I am inclined towards the NPHET advice and am have no desire to attend any gatherings. I am not confused regarding what I consider best practice but am taken aback by the great numbers who are mixing socially and in large groups. It strikes me that people don’t realise the danger despite rising numbers of cases day by day.

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  2. Hello Paddy,
    Your garden still has masses of interest and looks immaculate. As always I’m envious of your Crinum clumps. Our couple of plants get shredded by slugs – almost the most savaged of any plant we grow in fact. As for Covid – I agree about your comments about general behaviour now, which is always going to be one of the most valuable means of protection against personal risk of infection, but fear societies have become hooked on the concept of testing, as a way of risk elimination, which is doomed to failure.
    We are indeed very fortunate to have had our garden sanctuaries to enjoy, and are even still allowed to listen to music. When I last checked…
    Best wishes
    Julian

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  3. Your image of berries on the clerodendrum had me worried till I read that it is actually just in bloom. I am pleased to report that mine, which has struggled to settle in, is about to produce a decent display – any day now! My crinum clump is leafy but no flowers – but it was only planted last year and they are not for the impatient. The garden this morning is not cold but it is wet and has an autumnal feel. As for Covid, I am probably more cautious than you and keeping away from people. I really don’t know what the answer is but as you say, days merge into each other and we don’t seem to be getting a hold on the problem. But the wet week has meant that weed seeds are germinating like crazy so I have a busy day ahead.

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    1. I suppose we hear of the crowds and of their behaviour while there may well be many people who are continuing in a careful lifestyle but this is not newsworthy.

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  4. You need a little Shepherd’s hut in a hidden corner to retreat to.

    I’m with you on the taking things slow. We were never ones for large social gatherings – cinema or a visit to a National Trust property (tearoom) was the extent of our gadding about. Maybe a trip to an Outlet Village a few times a year; garden centres more often. We haven’t missed it.

    There are a few places we shop – always after carefully considering what else we need so we can do a round trip – recycling centre, supermarket, petrol; or Lidl, Home Bargains, Screwfix – and then we don’t go out again for at least a week. My writing group is due to meet for the first time on 20 September (since 20 March 2020) and I’ve spent ages writing a Risk Assessment, including limiting attendees to six (in a room for 16). I’ll take things at my pace, continue wearing a mask, and keep away from large supermarkets (especially leading up to Christmas).

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    1. I feel less the odd ball after reading this, Eileen. We have been very careful, even nervous, and have gone to shops etc only when necessary. Grocery shopping has been online and delivered since March 2020. It’s not quite the same as shopping in person, occasional little mishaps but nothing of any significance. It has served us well. For the time being we are going to continue being careful and will simply have to put up with it.

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    1. Temperatures are more pleasant here with 20C = 68F here this afternoon though the forecast is for warmer days ahead. These temperature suit me better than the hotter days. Today was spent painting and watching a game on tv in the afternoon – such stress!

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  5. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with still being careful. We have been out and about all summer but are still cautious about closed in spaces with poor ventilation, and keeping our hands clean and off our faces!
    Enjoy your turn of seasons while we enjoy our second tropical storm system in less than a week. Wednesday the forecast calls for a sunnier day with a high of 90F, and I’m sure there will be plenty of humidity to accompany 😉

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    1. Agreed – re the one and only benefit I can associate with Covid (though the Head Gardener has regularly been grateful at how it has kept people away from us!!!) but, to be honest, it is becoming tiring and trying and I long for those days of a more relaxed atmosphere and the freedom to be out an about without concern. In the meantime, we continue in our gardens and enjoy life as best we can. Best wishes!

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