We have begun preparing for winter. The dahlias tubers have been lifted, dried and stored until spring. Garden furniture has been brought into the garage and the glasshouses have been prepared to store the tender plants. The last tomatoes have been picked, some still green, and brought inside, stored with a banana, in hopes of ripening. The compost from the tomato pots has been spread on garden beds and some large potted agaves have been brought into the glasshouse in their place. Potted cannas have been brought in also. There has been a general tidying up around the glasshouse area. One biggish job was the tidying up of a collection of Iris unguicularis ‘Kilbroney Marble’, about 100 potfuls that we have been holding for distribution to members of the Irish Garden Plant Society. While doing this on Friday afternoon a wasp stung me on the neck, almost exactly where another wasp had stung me a week or so earlier, and that put an end to gardening for this week.
Unfortunately, I had a rather dramatic reaction to the wasp sting – light-headedness, feeling faint, nausea, a scalding in the throat, blocked nose, general itching and shaking; a reaction I have never experienced before. The worst passed reasonably quickly but the after effects continued so I visited the doctor on Saturday morning and am now taking anti-histamine and antibiotics medication which have helped. I don’t think I’ll be as tolerant of any wasps which make a nest near the house next year.
Let’s get back to the garden and a few things looking pretty or interesting there at present. That change of colour which is coming over the garden at the moment is clearest looking down the lane where the leaves from a chestnut tree have fallen:
Liriope muscari is one of those plants which seems to defy the general decline of autumn for, while many plants in the garden are dying off, it is looking its very best. I misnamed this plant last week, saying it was Liriope spicata. L. spicata is a creeping plant, sending out runners which colonise ground as it moves along while the plants of L. muscari are clump forming, far better behaved! Of course, each clump can be divided to make more and more plants for the garden, something we have done with this group over the years.
Click on the images to enlarge:
Another plant which comes to its best at this time of the year is Nerine x bowdenii. It has increased well here over the years and now makes a bright contribution to the garden. When combined with the variegated phlox they certainly brighten up the place. You may notice that there are two shades of pink in that planting. No doubt, they are different cultivars but they came to us as gifts, without a name, from other local gardeners so for us they only have their donor’s names.
Some of the colchicums have already gone over but others continue to shine. I received a delivery of three new cultivars from Peter Nyssen during the week which I must get into the ground as soon as possible and also had a recommendation for another Dutch company which has a great selection but will have to leave ordering from them until next year. The pink-flowered one here is Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ and the white is C. autumnale ‘Album’. ‘Lilac Wonder’ shows just how many flowers can come from a mature bulb.
This is the season when we appreciate berries on shrubs and trees and few give as bright a show as this viburnum, Viburnum setigerum. It is what I would call a very convenient shrub in the garden as it is upright in habit, and so takes up little space but still gives height while leaving plenty of room below for planting.
Two little spots of autumn colour which caught my eye were the leaves of this Witch hazel and the foliage of a little Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum humile) which is growing in a trough on the patio.
Finally, one of the early snowdrops of the season: Galanthus reginae olgae ‘Tilebarn Jamie’. This has proved to be one of the stronger growing of these early season snowdrops. Many have struggled here in our garden – we have too much moisture and not enough summer heat to bake the bulbs in summer – so I grow most in pots in the glasshouse, perfectly dry all summer until I water in late August or early September to have flowers about a month later. ‘Tilebarn Jamie’ does manage in a trough outside in the shelter of the house where it is kept reasonably dry and hot all summer.
I hope the wasps stop flying about soon as I don’t wish another experience as I’ve had this weekend. Their nest is in the corner of the roof, above the soffit I imagine, as I see them coming and going under a roof tile. I’ll stay away from them in the meantime!