A Sunday Selection

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.

A wintery scene, a sliver of a moon perched low above the garden boundary.
The same boundary as above in daylight with Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ in the background and Cyclamen hederifolium on the raised bed.

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!

18 thoughts on “A Sunday Selection

  1. Gosh, that was a serious reaction to a sting. Hope the effects are wearing off. Of all the insects that I’m trying to encourage into the garden, I am least tolerant of wasps. They’ve chewed plenty of wood from garden structures over the years to build their nests and I have no hesitation in getting the Wasp Exterminator in when they get into our roof space. I’ve only been stung once, years ago, when I took a t-shirt off the washing line and put it on. Now I wash everything inside out so if one sneaks inside, I’ll find it before it finds me.

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    1. It certainly gave me a fright and, peculiarly, I am exhausted after it. I slept for two hours after returning from the doctor’s and slept ten hours last night. Own doctor tomorrow to see what’s best to do for the future.

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  2. Hi Paddy – so sorry to hear your nasty reaction to the wasp sting! Probably it was the unfortunate experience of two stings so close together! Your poor immune system was still fighing the first sting when Wasp Two attacked! I have to say I deal with any wasp nests near the house as I also over-react to the little menaces when they sting! I;m impressed at your winter preparations! I was working in the garden yesterday without a jacket!!!!

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  3. That’s an irritating change of events to have such a reaction. I’ve heard of increasingly severe reactions to wasp and bee stings, and it generally gets worse with each sting, so be very careful if another comes along particularly the throat area.
    You’re going to have fun adding new colchicums 😉 I can already tell that your ‘Rosy Glow’ is incorrect and looks more like ‘Lilac Wonder’ with its floppiness and lack of a white center. Message me on FB if you’d like a picture or two from the colchicum book!

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    1. No, you are correct – you see, my bladder was on my mind once again and I mixed up my names. I’ll go now and edit.

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    2. And, I got a copy of the colchicum book only last week and was happy that this one was ‘Lilac Wonder’ but still I got it wrong when it came to writing about it.

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      1. I’m sorry, I thought for sure there had been a mix up in the fields. Good to know they are keeping them sorted out, since I went for years calling something a certain name and then awkwardly found out it was something obviously different.
        Just this fall I came to the conclusion Rosy Glow is really the Giant…

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    1. It was a lazy photograph, Neil – taken from my armchair looking out the window. We were only admiring this evening’s moon a few minutes ago, very yellowish, an attractive colour.

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  4. Hello Paddy,
    Very sorry to hear about the wasp stings, and how unlucky to get two so close together, and I agree with the previous comment about being prepared for a possible worsening reaction next time. ? Worth having an epipen to hand? I’ve looked into these in the past given our 45 minutes travel from casualty, but never quite got round to getting one. Plus they seem to come with a very poor shelf life, and recently jacked up cost. Still, a thought I’m sure your doctor will consider/discuss. But strange that you should have been stung twice, if the only nest was in the roof space. I wonder if there might be another one, tucked away somewhere closer to where you’d been working? Or that you’d been eating one of those items which smell like sting attack pheromones?
    Anyway a change in the weather to colder conditions will hopefully see them all die off quickly – our two nests (that I know about!) are still incredibly active, after all the recent warm weather.
    best wishes
    Julian

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  5. I do hope you are fully recovered from your wasp sting, Sounds most unreasonable of them. I have a small clump of liriope which after four years in the garden finally looks settled. I can’t bring myself to divide it yet but maybe next year. The nerines en masse look wonderful. A lovely colour for this time of year. And the first sign of snowdrops really does remind us that the seasons are changing. Here the dahlias are still going strong but the tidy up is beginning.

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    1. Tidying up has been the theme of the week here. We had tree surgeons here on Monday and had seven good sized trees removed and some pruning done on a line of mature ash trees – several of the branches removed from the ash were bigger than the trees that were cut down. The big material was all chipped and removed but there was a mountain of twigs, leaves and general debris to be cleared as well as the pruning of damaged shrubs and other garden plants. Today should finish the job! Re the Liriope – it increases well and divides easily. I bought a variegated form a few years back and it is beginning to get going now – and, yes, it does seem slow! The boiled kettle never boils!

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  6. Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ is in a wonderful state of collapse. It would not have occurred to me that all those flowers came from the one bulb, but I’ll marvel all the more next time I see one. I’m sorry about your reaction to the wasp sting. That must have been very scary.

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    1. I’m falling more and more under the spell of the colchicums and have added a few more this year. They give a great splash of colour at this time of the year. Re the sting – the doctor prescribed steroid tablets to be held until needed. It was a case of hypersensitivity, something which happens when one sting follows shortly on another. Thankfully, it wasn’t an anaphylactic reaction so uncomfortable and upsetting but not dangerous. I’ll survive!

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