In a Vase on Monday. Ghosts of Summer.

I have got a bit behind with blogging as we have been to beautiful Bruges for a pre- Christmas jolly.

Bruges

And then we came back to this…


I was hoping to find ten blooms for December and  something pretty for a  vase on Monday.  But  that’s not really an option at the moment.

But never mind, I grew some flowers for drying in my cutting bed this year. So we are not entirely flowerless.



I used Helipterum roseum and the lovely white Helipterum ‘Pierrot’ which has white flowers with yellow and black centres. I also used Helichrysum bracteatum.  I wish I had grown more of these in separate colours now. I also dried a few flowers of Centaurea americana ‘Aloha Blanca’ which you can see in the above picture. The funny buff -coloured thing peeping out on the left was an experiment to dry Bupleurum longifolium ‘Bronze Beauty’. And I have kept some of the Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ from a previous vase. The container with dried chestnut leaves is from last year.

I am sorry to offer you withered flowers today but I am not ready for Christmas bling yet. I prefer to hang on to my little ghosts of summer for a while longer.

Cathy, our indomitable hostess for this meme has picked some of her precious snowdrops for her vase today. Do go and see.

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In a Vase on Monday. Frosty Days.

Goodness we have had some weather. Really high winds.

Whoops!

And frosty nights. The poor garden is huddled and lying miserably with its ears back waiting for the next onslaught; I read that it is going to get even colder. It is going to be a challenge finding Ten December Blooms which are interesting enough to write about later in the month. But we will see. In the meantime I have used my silver lustre vase to represent the frosty appearance of my garden this week.

I love the jade green of the sea poppy foliage, Glaucium corniculatum ‘Burnt orange’. I think it sets of the Solanum laxum ‘Creche ar Pape’ really well.

And it looks good with the little snowballs of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which has pink buds opening to white flowers.

Other foliage includes  spiky rosemary, Pittosporum tenufoliium ‘Irene Patterson’ and Teucrium fruticans grown from a cutting  which I brought back from Corsica.

I cannot think of the name of the yellow daisy flower above at the moment, it has lovely glaucous leaves, Here they are. What on earth is it called? it’s going to bother me all day.

 

The fluffy seedheads of Pennisetum villosum pick up the shaggy heads of the Astrantia major.

Other flowers include the tattered remains of the blue flowers of Ceratostigma willmottianum  and the last little buds of the  wonderfully fragrant annual Zaluzianskya which has white and maroon buds and smells divine. And there is some winter jasmine which is a mainstay all winter and then white heather for luck.




Garden bloggers are creative and resourceful people and I am sure there will be plenty of lovely vases to see even as the winter closes in. Do go over to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden to see what everyone has come up with.

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Ten Top November Blooms

Number one for November has to be the chrysanthemum. I don’t grow the big mop heads. They are beautiful but they always remind me of over-primped, botoxed and made-up ladies who spend too much time at the hairdressers. Very high maintenance; the ladies and the chrysanthemums. I prefer the daisy  and small double chrysanthemums which come in such pretty colours.

Chrysanthemums start blooming in October but I avert my eyes and refuse to acknowlege them until November.  I do the same thing with bulbs which are showing their noses. These have to wait until after Christmas to be gloated over. In the darkest months horticultural pleasures are scarce and have to be spread out and not enjoyed all at once. There are enough floral treats in October but after the first November frosts then chrysanthemums are the stars for me.

I will start with my favourite ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’ which has double flowers with red petals burnished with gold.

Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’

And here are a few more. ‘Cottage Lemon’ is quite rare and on the red list. ‘Mrs. Jessie Cooper’ is a particularly vibrant pink and I love the double peachey flowers of ‘Picasso’

Number two on my list is this beautiful Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ which is rarely out of bloom. It is at is best in November and throughout  the winter unless the weather is particularly awful. It smells divine and wafts its fragrance round the garden. It is not considered to be completely hardy but mine has lived outside for several years. Its name is a bit of a mouthful but it is a gorgeous plant. If you remember that coronilla means crown you will see it makes sense; it has crown-shaped umbels of lemon-coloured flowers.  It has been given various English names such as ‘Crown Vetch’ or ‘Scorpion Vetch’, but I have no truck with made up names for plants with perfectly good, if a little long, Latin names. Coronilla is a member of the pea family; leguminosae.  I always remember this by thinking of it as: ‘Le’ go mi nosey’.

Coronilla valentina subs.glauca ‘Citrina

My third plant is one that is new to me this year. Bidens heterophylla ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’. I have grown the pretty little annual bidens for years, but this is a late-flowering and very tall perennial. I don’t know if they usually flower so late but mine was very late to open its flowers and it is a very welcome sight on a November day. I can never resist daisy flowers and this has lemon daisy flowers tipped with white.

Bidens heterophylla ‘Hannay’s lemon Drop’

My number four is the lovely Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ which blooms throughout the winter months. And it is a very welcome sight too with its maroon freckles.

Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurasens ‘Freckles’

There are still some roses blooming away but I have chosen one that blooms for about eight weeks in the early summer and then after a little rest will bloom right into the winter. I love single roses and this one is an absolute beauty; the flowers start off coppery apricot and finish pink. It is Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’. It is a china rose and so needs a sheltered spot. In fact it used to be called Rosa chinensis, I’m not quite sure when the name was changed.

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

Another China rose which seems to bloom all year round with just the odd break is Rosa  chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’. The flowers look like flights of red butterflies.

Rosa ‘chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’

I know a lot of people don’t like mahonias and I hate the creeping one which gets all over my garden and is so difficult to eradicate and seeds everywhere. But I like the spiky, evergreen foliage of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’. ‘Charity’ is getting over here but ‘Winter Sun’ is still looking good. These winter flowering  mahonias smell faintly of Lily of the Valley. But for a strongly scented one the late winter/ early spring flowering Mahonia japonica is the one to go for. My only complaint about these mahonias is that I have too many of them. The previous owner here seemed to be mad about them, along with  the evil, wet dog -smelling Viburnum tinus. The other problem is that mahonias can grow very tall and gawky, with flowers  so high up that only the birds get to appreciate them. But they are easy to chop down to a knobbly bit in spring.

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’

This month’s snowdrop is the dear little November- flowering Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’.

Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’

I have several different cyclamen and some of them live in pots in the greenhouse. But outside just as Cyclamen hederifolium starts to go over, the winter flowering Cyclamen coum takes over. This one is a little early but very welcome.

Cyclamen coum

I am really keen to focus each month on flowers which are blooming in the proper season. November is a bit tricky though and many of the flowers out now are hangers on from summer or early winter ones. I have a foxglove in bloom and also a hellebore. I have mentioned my lovely Passion Flower , Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’ before. It is still blooming away.

Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’

Silly Cow’ is indeed silly blooming so late when the frosts are around but the delicate-looking Iris unguicularis is quite safe and will bloom all winter long. I like to pick it in bud and watch it unfurl in the warmth of the house.

Iris unguicularis

So there are my top ten November bloomers. Please join me and show us what you are enjoying in the garden in November and if flowers are getting  a bit thin on the ground outside, then show us just one or two. Or maybe you have some fabulous blooms in the house or conservatory to share.

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In a Vase on Monday. Potty!

Today is a red letter day in the Monday vase- filling community. It is the fourth anniversary of Cathy’s popular meme, ‘In a Vase on Monday’. To celebrate she asks us to arrange our flowers in something that is not a vase at all. I am looking forward to seeing how inventive everyone is.

So my flowers today are sitting in a Victorian chamber pot.

I hope it is not lèse-majesté and disrespectful to the queen of the vases to celebrate her 4th anniversary with a potty. Cathy likes to use props to set off her arrangements and make a pleasing tableau, but I think even her ingenuity would fail here. I can’t think of a single prop that wouldn’t introduce a scatological note and lower the tone of this lovely meme. So no props just a pottyful of flowers. It doesn’t seem quite nice to have it on the dining room table but never mind. I am hosting my book club tomorrow,  I will see if anyone notices that  there is a potty on the table.

The frost has blackened the dahlias  and the roses hang like Farrrer’s ‘withered moths’, but there are still plenty of other blooms. To match the pattern on the po I have used pink, white and mauve flowers. The foliage consists of lovely silvery eucalyptus leaves and a few stems of Pittospermum tenufolium ‘Irene Patterson’ which has beautiful evergreen, white- marbled leaves. Also the silver-leaved Convolvulus cneorum has still got a few blooms. You can just see it in the centre of the photo above.

I have used  the lovely little stars of Solanum laxum ‘Creche ar Pape’ in previous vases; it just goes on and on blooming copiously. I used a few sprigs of  a starry  white aster; Symphiotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’.   Some of my salvias have collapsed in the frost but deep purple Salvia ‘Amistad’ seems quite unaffected. I have taken cuttings but I hope it will survive the winter it is such a lovely big plant now.
For pinks I have used  Nicotiana ‘Whisper Deep pink’ which is gorgeous.  Gaura lindheimeri has been blooming for ages and is quite unscathed by the frost. The pink Chrysanthemum ‘Suffolk Pink’ was found in a Suffolk garden. The red penstemon clashes a bit, but one is glad of any colour in November.


The grass is Pennisetum allopecuroides‘Hameln’ and the white berries are snow berries, Symphoricarpos albus, but I wouldn’t recommend this invasive plant to anyone, it is the Devils’ Spawn and impossible to eradicate.

Happy Fourth Anniversary to Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden. Do go and see what curious containers everyone else has put their flowers in today. You’ll find that there is not a vase to be seen.

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Funky succulents.

Succulent cupcakes

It seems that succulents are trendy. I am appalled. I hate to be trendy. My grandmother was very fond of succulents and cacti. For years I always thought that they were old-fashioned, nasty, pricky, fleshy or spiky things. I love them now, but only after years of gardening. How come all these young, trendy people have decided that they are stylish? I came to love succulents with maturity,  the same way  I acquired a taste for coffee,  oysters, olives and dry white wine. And now they are in vogue and all over Pinterest. They are being used by interior designers and by people who have never tasted oysters, (horticulturally speaking). They are even creeping into wedding bouquets. It’s as if  the presenters of ‘Strictly Come Baking’ (or whatever it’s called; sorry, I don’t have a telly,)  started quoting Proust. It’s discombobulating. I’ll just keep my head down and wait for it to pass. Eventually they will move on to aspidistras or monkey puzzle trees  and we succulent lovers will be able to enjoy our succulents without the awful taint of trendiness.

Agave americana ‘Variegata’ on the right.

My collecting which started a few years ago with variegated agaves is now completely out of control. I first fell for succulents when I saw them growing at Tresco Abbey Gardens where they live outside in the mild climate. Here in East Anglia they have to live in pots.

Succulents. Beth Chatto’s Nursery.

I took the above photo at Beth Chatto’s nursery last year. It is a nice sheltered corner but I don’t think the breeze blocks are the best backdrop. I prefer the way I saw them arranged either side of the shed door at East Ruston  Gardens in Norfolk last year.

They have even planted quite big ones out in the open at East Ruston and I particularly liked this Echeveria planted in the copper pot, it perfectly matches the jade green verdigris.

East Ruston

At Great Dixter succulents and cacti are planted, a little incongruously, in little beds on the Lutyens steps.

I rather liked this planter at Gravetye Manor last year.

My succulents have spent the summer round the shed.


I am not too great on succulent names but here are a few of my favourites.

Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata

Aeonium tabuliforme

Crassula ovata subsp. undulata

Aeonium arboreum ‘Swartkop’

Aeonium arboreum

Aeonium arboreum ‘var. albovariegatum’

Now it is nearly November I daren’t risk leaving them out any longer. And so I have the annual headache of to trying to find room for them all. Every year, of course, the problem gets worse. This is the utility room table, the chef insists he needs it for food preparation. That might be a bit tricky.

And I still have all these in the greenhouse, they will need to come in soon. They are all babies that my niece gave me in the spring. They are growing up fast. Actually, when it comes to succulents my addiction is quite mild compared to hers. She is the Succulent Queen.

Where will it all end? Once the window sills are full I really don’t know what I shall do.  Thank goodness, it will soon be snowdrop time and I will be able to  forget about succulents and start indulging one of my other obsessions. Actually it has already started. Galanthus reginae-olgae has been in bloom for a couple of weeks now…

Galanthus reginae-olgae

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Wordless Wednesday. Ode To Autumn

‘To set budding more,

And still more later flowers for the bees

Until they think warm days will never cease

For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.‘  Keats.

Nicotiana mutabilisVerbascum ‘Snow Maiden’ Ageratum corymbosum, Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’

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In a Vase on Monday. Zinnias and Things.

Zinnias are wonderful cut flowers, like sweet peas the more you cut, the more they flourish and they are so long lasting in a vase.  They go on blooming until the first frosts. I started growing them when I saw them on other blogs. I don’t know why I never thought of it before. There are so many wonderful varieties that choosing the seeds is difficult. I think this one; Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’ is antiquey looking and darkly sophisticated. The spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis are a perfect match. I thought the fluffy seed heads of Pennisetum alopecuroides go well with them too. This grass obligingly seeds around so I can have it all over.


Last year I grew a mixed selection which were bright and cheery but I think I prefer single colours.

I want to grow lots more next year, but which ones to choose? It would be lovely to hear which varieties other bloggers particularly enjoy. I am very taken with the lime green one that my friend, Christina at myhesperidesgarden grows. That one is definitely on the list.

I grow a lot of salvias, I love them and they are so easy from cuttings. I have been meaing to do a salvia post but now it is a bit late, some of them are looking past their best. But here is a cheery posy of some of my favourite varieties.



This year I grew some from seed that I collected from my favourites. They germinated readily and I was looking forward to some exciting new varieties. To my surprise every one turned out to be the bright red of Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’, like the one in the centre of the picture above. Very nice but I don’t need twenty identical red salvias.

My last vase today contains Nasturtium ‘Black Velvet’. It doesn’t look very black to me , more mahogany, but that is what it said on the packet.

So that is my three vases today. It is nice to have an abundance of flowers to pick in late October. Next month might be a bit more challenging once we have had the first frost. Please see what lovely Cathy at ramblinginthegarden and the rest of the vase fillers have been up today.

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Nurturing Nerines.

‘Nerines, like some plants and many  people, give no trouble provided that they are given precisely what they want’.  Peter Smithers.

I wrote an article about nerines recently for the Suffolk Plant Heritage Journal and since then people keep ringing me up to ask about their non-flowering nerines. This seems to be a concern of some blogging friends too. So this is a quick post about caring for these fabulous plants and making sure you have plenty of blooms to  enjoy in the garden, in pots, a vase or the greenhouse.

First of all, if you want them in the garden make sure they are bowdenii hybrids. These get their leaves in summer before the flowers. Once the flowers form or shortly afterwards, the leaves die down and once the flowers die down the bulb will be dormant until spring. The bulbs are frost hardy down to  – 15 degrees but having said that, the embryo flower buds could be vulnerable to severe frost, so it is a good idea to mulch them if the winter is harsh. On the other hand if it is very wet rather than frosty, the mulch could rot and damage them. So watch out for that. I live in the relatively mild East of England so I rarely bother with a mulch.

One cause of flowering -failure could be bulbs planted too deeply. They need their noses just protruding. They need a sunny site, the base of a south facing wall is ideal and they are happy in a poor soil as long as it is well drained. If you give them a nitrogen rich feed they will produce an abundance of glossy leaves at the expense of flowers. If they are not flowering well give them a high potash feed in summer when they are making next year’s flower buds. The other magic ingredient is summer watering. Just because they like to be baked in the sun doesn’t mean they can go without watering to initiate flowering. Once planted leave them alone, they resent disturbance. They probably won’t flower the first year, they need time to settle into their new home. Once they get going they should get better and better and they will spread by off-sets and the clump will get bigger. If you want to propagate them you can remove offsets when the bulbs are dormant.If you buy nerines as dry bulbs then plant  them in a pot and plant them out once they have developed roots. You can also sow the fleshy  seeds when they are fresh, they contain food and water for the young plant so don’t let them dry out. Sow them very shallowly in gritty soil. They take about 5 years to get to flowering size but you might produce something a bit different.

Any nerine which has leaves in winter rather than summer is a sarniensis hybrid and so not hardy. Efforts were made to cross bowdenii with sarniensis  nerines in order to get the jewel like range of colours combined with hardiness. The resulting plants are beautiful but not necessarily; in fact rarely, hardy.   Nerine sarniensis  comes in a range of gorgeous colours and many look as if they have been sprayed with shimmering glitter. This scintillation is caused by the crystalline structure of the petals and I have not seen it in any other plant. Obviously they need to be kept in pots in the UK. All nerines respond well to pot culture, they like to be overcrowded.

Nerine sarniensis

Nerine sarniensis needs to be kept reasonably dry when dormant in summer with just enough watering to stop the bulbs from shrivelling.  In winter ideally they need temperatures of 8 C – 10C) ( 46F-50F.) Having said this, I keep mine just frost proof and I haven’t lost any yet.

The larger flowered amarines are a recent introduction, they are a cross between Amaryllis belladonna and nerines. The flowers are gorgeous. I have Amarine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’ but there are several beautiful ones available.

Amarine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’

They need just the same care as Nerine bowdenii. When  I say amaryllis I am not talking about the long necked plants you have in a pot at Christmas, they are hippeastrums and I don’t know why people persist in calling them amaryllis. Amaryllis have large trumpet shaped flowers and they are very temperamental when it comes to flowering so I would chose amarines any time in preference. I spoke to somebody who  grew Amaryllis belladonna commercially as a cut flower and he said he was giving it up because they are so unreliable when it comes to flowering. Perhaps they need more sun than we can provide in the UK.

Amaryllis belladonna

If you don’t already, I do hope you will try growing some nerines or amarines; you won’t regret it. What else can give you so much delight as we wave goodbye to summer? If you have a greenhouse full of jewels like this you can’t feel depressed. They should be offered on the national health.

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Top Ten Blooms for October.

There is always a long awaited treat in October when my nerines come into full beauty. Some of them start in September, but October is the month when they are all strutting their stuff, each more lovely than the last. The bowdenii hybrids can live outside and they make ever larger clumps.

Nerine bowdenii

 

I particularly enjoy the pale pink Nerine bodwenii ‘Pink Surprise’. The flowers are so delicate.

Nerine ‘Pink Surprise’

The ones with sarniensis blood have to stay inside. The lovely vermilion-red Nerine sarniensis starts blooming in September but it has to live in the house in winter as it is too delicate for outside. It produces its leaves in winter and these would be killed by the first frost. I keep all my sarniensis/ bowdenii hybrids in an unheated greenhouse but I cover them with fleece when it is very cold. Favourites include the shimmering dusky flowers of  ‘Mr. John’.

Nerine ‘Mr. John’

And the huge dark pink flowers of Nerine ‘Zeal Giant’.

Nerine ‘Zeal Giant’

Gleaming white Nerine bowdenii  ‘Ella K’ should be hardy but I find that white nerines don’t seem to be as hardy as the pink ones. This one starts blooming in September.

Nerine ‘Ella K’

When ‘Ella K’ is going over then Nerine bowdenii ‘Alba’ takes over.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Alba’

Best of all though is my wonderful plant of the delicate Nerine undulata. This year there are 46 blooms in the one pot. I suppose I really should think of dividing it, it has lived for so long in the same pot.  This has to be done in spring.

Nerine undulata

My number two favourite is Amarine belladiva  which is a cross between nerine and amarylis. The flowers are much bigger than nerines. I have ‘Aphrodite’ which has delicately stripped flowers. It is supposed to be hardy so this year I am risking it outside. It is a good idea to mulch nerines and amarines because  the embryonic buds are vulnerable to frost.

Amarine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’

My number three is a little plant which I cosset in the greenhouse. It is actually an oxalis but forget the horrors of that creeping weed with red leaves; Oxalis corniculata that gets everywhere. This is an aristocratic little plant from South Africa which sits politely in its pot and causes no trouble.  And very pretty it is too. It blooms right through the autumn.

Oxalis massoniana

While we are in the greenhouse I might as well include the little paint brush plant haemanthus. It usually comes in red but this is Haemanthus albiflos. The chilli plant in the picture  is ‘Apache’, I always grow two or three plants of this, it makes a nice compact plant and fruits prolifically.

Haemanthus albiflos

I am not very keen on fuchsias. They look as if they are wearing the kind of dresses I loved when I was six, pink with frou frou skirts. My tastes have changed now. But I am very fond of a hardy climbing fuchsia called Lady Boothby. It is hardy down to -10. The flowers are a lovely shiny red and purple. I think a climbing fuchsia is rather unusual. I bought it at East Ruston Old Vicarage gardens, you can always be sure of finding something unusual there.

Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothbury’

Of course we have to include Michaelmas daisies in a list of October favourites. The naming of these plants has become a minefield. An aster is no longer a simple aster, or not always anyway.
My favourite is  – come on, let’s give it its proper name , Symphyiotrichum ‘Vasterival’. As you would expect from a plant from this fabulous garden, ‘Le Vasterival’ it is a real beauty. The late Princess Sturdza who gardened near Dieppe in France was an amazing gardener and the garden was one of my all time favourites. She was a very scary lady though. She used to conduct her guided tours clutching a pitchfork and she poked people with it if she felt they were getting too close to the edge of the borders.
S.‘Vasterival is a tall growing aster with masses of starry flowers on black stems. It is ethereally delicate and airy and although it spreads and languorously leans all over neighbouring plants I smile indulgently at it and allow it the sort of behaviour that lesser beauties wouldn’t get away with.

Symphyiotrichum ‘Vasterival’ with Anemone x hybrida ‘Andrea Atkinson’

Most people wouldn’t put Japanese Anemones in their top ten favourite lists, they are very invasive. I dug this white anemone up last year as I thought it was too near the front of the border. But this year she blooms on, serenely unconscious of the fact that she is not supposed to be there. But the flowers are such a pure white and the blooms last much longer than on other Japanese anemones. The name is Anemone x hyrida ‘Andrea Atkinson’. It is very similar to the more common ‘Honorine Jubert’ but I think it is better. It looks lovely with  S.’Vasterival’.

I have rather a lot of asters and I haven’t room to describe them all so I’ll just show you another favourite. It is Symphyiotrichum ‘Little Carlow’.  It is  much better behaved than ‘Vasterival’ and stays nice and compact without falling all over. It is a cordifolius hybrid . I have one by my garden gate and total strangers knock on the door to ask its name.

Symphyiotrichum ‘Little Carlow’

The centres of the flowers are yellow but they are always abuzz with bees and once the flowers are pollinated the centres turn pink. They look pretty with the dark pink flowers of Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Blackfield’.

Persicaria are very useful for late summer and autumn colour. Like the asters they have suffered from a name change, which is a shame as rather  childishly, I always used to enjoy Polygonun ‘Superbum’. As they are knotweeds most of them spread to make nice big clumps. Cathy at ramblinginthegarden has a good collection of these useful plants. She very kindly sent me Persicaria microcephala ‘Red dragon’. It has lovely  dark  red leaves with grey veins.

Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’

I’m not always sure of the names of the persicaria that I have begged or borrowed but I think the next one is Persicaria campanulata. It’s one I – er- borrowed. It’s alright, it spreads so fast nobody is going to miss a tiny little piece.

Persicaria campanulata

The pink and white Persicaria amplexicaulis look good growing with Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

My next plant has suffered from a name change too. It used to be a chrysanthemum, but no longer. I think it is now called Arctanthemum arcticum. it is an arctic daisy which spreads into lovely clumps and has gleaming, snow white flowers. I love it.

Arctanthemum arcticum

Next month there will be more chrysanthemums as they are the stars of November.

I will finish with something a bit weird and wonderful.It is new to me this year. It is a succulent called Orostachys iwarenge, or Chinese Dunce Cap. It has rosettes from which grow little conical caps of pink flowers.

Orostachys iwarenge

So that’s my list of ten favourites for October. Here in Suffolk the weather has been unseasonably warm and the flowers seem to think that it is still summer. Other parts of the country have had gales and the tail end of Ophelia, but here we have just had incredibly warm days and a peculiar amber sky which then turned yellow and glowed with an eerie light. I hope that you have still got plenty to enjoy in the garden and that you will join me and show us which plants you are enjoying this month.

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In a Vase on Monday. Tyrian Purple.

Last week I celebrated autumn in my arrangement, but today is October and I feel I need  to recapture the memories of summer with some lush shades of  purple, mauve and violet.  Tyrian purple was a costly imperial colour made from thousands of tiny snails. No snails were involved in my arrangement.

Asters are reigning in the garden at the moment and I love the small starry ones which are true to their name. I used my favourites; ‘Le Vasterival’, ‘Little Carlow’, Aster cordifolius ‘Ideal’ and Aster cordifolius ‘Photograph’. These are all actually now symphyotrichums but today I am sticking with the name asters.

There are a couple of salvias; Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’ and Salvia ‘Amistad’ which is a true purple  and looks as if it could be made from crushed snails, unlike the rest of my blooms today.

I also used the lovely white and lilac coloured Solanum laxum ‘Crèche ar Pape’ which I thought must be a misprint when  first I saw its name  because it doesn’t make sense, but ‘Crèche ar Pape‘ is actually the name of a garden in Brittany. I notice a lot of people are listing it as ‘Crèche du Pape’ now which sounds grammatically correct,  but bizarre. Being celibate, I don’t suppose the pope has much need of a crib.

Other flowers are a dahlia seedling,  which is cheating because it’s pink,  a few late sprigs of lavender, Verbena bonariensis and Geranium ‘Rosanne’ which blooms all summer long.  I have featured  the fluffy heads of Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ before and I will certainly grow it next year as it blooms for ages and is a wonderful cut flower. Ok, I know these are blue but they go quite well with the purple and lilac.

Geranium ‘Rosanne’.

I also used fluffy heads of Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ which is a fabulous grass which has obligingly seeded itself about. The campanula is the invasive Campanula rapunculoides which is a pest and I am always trying to eliminate it. Its common name is ‘Creeping Campanula’ and that is a good name for it.

As it really is autumn now I used a purple fruit as a prop.

It is a fruit of the Akebia quinata and this is the first time I have seen fruit on my plant.

There are plenty of seeds which I shall be sowing.

After I had taken the photos for this post I suddenly thought:  ‘Silly Cow!’

Passiflora ‘Silly Cow’

Passiflora ‘Silly Cow’ with its huge exotic blooms is just the thing to finish off the arrangement and rescue it from being too airy fairy.


I arranged the flowers, (well plonked them actually,) in my black Victorian mourning vase which is appropriate as today I am in mourning for summer.

 

Cathy who hosts this meme, ‘In a Vase on Monday’ has featured some of her lovely collection of knotweeds today, which are are actually not weeds at all. They are called persicaria these days and very pretty they are too. Do go and see.

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