Days when the Grass Don’t Dry!

Our garden is north-facing and in a river valley where fog is common and dew persistent and, as the angle of the sun drops lower and lower, there are many days when the grass does not dry at all, even on what we might call a “good drying day”. This is also the time of year when we are more conscious of keeping the grass cut. In summer, there is no great bother if we leave it a day or two later than needed, but there is a danger late in the autumn that each cut may well be the last – because the ground has become too wet and running the machine would simply cut up the turf – and if we stop grass-cutting too early we will have to face lush growth and soft ground in spring. It is a balancing act of cutting as late as possible and of not doing damage to the ground. Oftentimes, even on a good day, the grass will only have dried by mid afternoon but with darkness falling earlier and earlier there may only be an hour to and hour and a half to cut the grass before the dew falls again. I did the deed yesterday afternoon and for the first time this season I noticed the mower leaving marks on the turf. Again, this morning, while moving a few plants I found the grass quickly becoming muddy where I was in and out of a bed. We are into winter.

Oh, let’s not be all down at the mouth! My delight with colchicums has continued as a few more have come into flower or have opened to show their full beauty. Although it is late in the season – they are normally ordered in July/August – I am expecting delivery of a few more cultivars this week from Peter Nyssen in Holland, late season bargains and I’ll get them planted as soon as they arrive and imagine they will be into flower very quickly.

Colchicum ‘Pink Goblet’
Colchicum ‘Giant’
Colchicum speciosum ‘Rubrum’
Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

Cyclamen hederifolium continue to perform in the garden, a good display of flowers being followed by a covering of beautiful foliage and they obligingly self-seed and increase in numbers year on year. It is hard to fault them!

This one has grown in the space between two bricks on the steps to the front garden.
Another which has grown on the steps to the front garden.

Click on the first image to start a slideshow:

Elsewhere, possibly the very best plant for dry shade, Liriope spicata, has come into flower, spikes of a purplish blue. As those trees we planted as small specimens are now becoming quite large, we find the ground of the garden has changed quite a lot. There are now large areas where the ground becomes very dry in summer as the roots of the trees take the moisture from it. As a result, many perennial plants struggle in places in the garden and there is a need to reconsider what we plant. Liriope spicata has been one of the most successful in these conditions:

Click on the first image to start a slideshow:

On last Friday’s programme of Gardeners’ World, Monty Don commented that this was not the end of the gardening year but the beginning and I am very happy to agree with him. It puts a positive spin on this time of the year, and a positive spin is most welcome on a mucky day as we are having here today. While the flowers of summer and autumn are coming to the end of their days one of the flowers of spring steals a march on all the rest and the first snowdrop of the season has opened here – Galanthus reginae olgae ‘Rachel Mahaffy’.

22 thoughts on “Days when the Grass Don’t Dry!

  1. I know what you mean about the mowing. Much the same here and I was disappointed that it started raining this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow. I hope your buds arrive soon. I am waiting for two orders to arrive – always a worrying time but at least mine are spring-flowering!

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    1. Yes, we have noticed how the garden has changed over the years we are here. Thirty year old trees are now having an impact on soil conditions.

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    1. It’s a while since I ordered from them but the order was quickly acknowledged and dispatched. I made a mistake with my email address – used an old one which had been on my account with them – so dropped a line and it was sorted immediately. We can’t get bulbs from the UK so I’d be delighted to hear of other Dutch suppliers from you if you have a minute.

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      1. Farmer Gracy is another good source. I am looking for more colchicums at the moment but it really is too late for this year so it’s research for next year, really.

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  2. Is that liriope spicata and not liatris spicata. I am in upstate NY and enjoy your posts immensley. We have perfect weather for planting as a hard freeze is at least a month away. The leaves are just beginning to show some fall color.

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    1. Yes, of course! The old head let me down – I’ll go back and edit to correct. Many thanks! NIce to hear from you and I’d love to see your autumn (sorry, Fall) colour some time!


  3. Hello Paddy,
    Lovely to see your first snowdrop is up for you already, and I do agree that the new gardening year starts now, if you have snowdrops, Cyclamen coum et al. We really struggle with r.o.’s – just too wet I guess in our garden, but I still always look out for the one or two frankly ordinary flowers in a couple of weeks or so, as the start of the s’drop season. I never realised before I grew a few early ones just what the fuss was all about, but they’re such a delight in the gloom of late autumn/winter, aren’t they?
    Best wishes

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    1. I have always struggled with the reginae olgaes in the open garden as well, dwindling away very very quickly so I have grown them in pots in the glasshouse for some time now; kept perfectly dry from when the foliage dies back until the beginning of September.

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  4. The cycamen look wonderful, I’m never sure if they like their spots here because they are never full bloomers like that! The foliage in itself is worth growing them for, even if the flowers aren’t always so thick.
    We are also getting those misty mornings. I’ve been forced to clean out the garage so that an actual car can go inside, and avoid that morning dew which takes forever to wipe clean off a cold windshield.

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