Six on Saturday. November Pleasures.

1. Kind Gardeners.
Last week one of my favourite bloggers, Gill at Off the Edge Gardening mentioned that it was World Kindness Day. I have never heard of such a thing, but garden bloggers don’t need a special kindness day, they are such a kind, supportive and generous lot all year round. So for number one, I would like to thank two of my blogging friends for their kindness and generosity. I received two exciting packages this week. One was from my friend Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. Cathy has invested in a  hydropod propagator  and I am so impressed with the healthy plants with fantastic roots that she sent me in this lovely box.

Tony Tomeo from Los Gatos in California  sent me all these Amaryllis seeds. It was all properly done, the package went through customs and was released by DEFRA Plant Health. The seeds  have little roots showing and are ready to go. Many thanks to you both, Cathy and Tony. It was such a treat to receive such exciting packages.

2.New Project.  Well,  perhaps this can’t be included in a November pleasure at the moment, because it will be hard work, but it is a pleasure to come. Now I have extended my winter garden I only have a narrow strip of grass down the side of it as I have been nibbling at the grass for the last few years. After so much rain it is mostly mud and very slippery. Obviously I need a proper path. I would love to have a brick one but old bricks are very expensive. I have decided to compromise and use the old bricks that I have dotted about the garden and buy a few more to make brick edging with gravel in the middle. I shall be glad to finally get rid of all the grass round here and not  have any more edges to cut.  Since I took the first photo I have planted the new bit of winter garden and put a stepping stone path through the middle. The stump is the remains of a black-leaved elder which I need to cut to the ground to get nice big foliage next year. The Pianist was so excited when I told him about my new idea for a path. He didn’t say so, in fact he groaned, but I know secretly he was excited. Here is where the path will go.

3 Autumn colour. This month has brought us a record amount of rain and the garden looks decidedly Novemberish. But still there is some good seasonal colour hanging on in there. There are flowers too but  these must wait for the November Bloom post next Saturday.

4.The Greenhouse is stuffed with refugees from the garden at the moment. But there are plenty of flowers in there to brighten up the dull November days. My late flowering nerines are waiting to be  included in my Top Ten November Blooms post. But here are some of the other pretty flowers, starting with this curious paintbrush.

Haemanthus albiflos

Oxalis is a pernicious weed, specially that awful one that grows in the paving stones or in plant pots amongst your prize plants. But Oxalis massoniana is a delight.

Oxalis massoniana

I love salvias and they are so easy from cuttings that I leave the big plants outside to take their chance with the frost and take cuttings. But this one, Salvia corrugata is quite new and I will keep it inside. I like it for its bright blue flowers and curious, wrinkled leaves.

Salvia corrugata

This mallow, Anisodontea ‘El Royo’ is new too and I don’t know how hardy it is so I will keep it inside for this winter. It has such delicate flowers.

Anisodontea ‘El Royo’

My bougainvilea has been in bloom for weeks.

Bougainvillea

The blue Plumbago capensis  bloomed earlier then had a rest and here it is again.

Plumbago capensis

5.In the House. I have lots of orchids. I can’t resist them and they are so cheap these days. They go on and on and never seem to die so the collection just gets bigger. I repotted all my Phaelonopsis recently and I will do a post about them another time. Today I am going to feature one I am particularly delighted with. It is the first time that I have got a pansy-faced Miltonia to flower again. It is so pretty and very fragrant too.

Miltonia orchid

The Odontoglossum is reflowering too.

Odontoglossum orchid

6. November Sunsets are so often beautiful even if they are indecently early. They are usually one of the pleasures of November but they have been scarce this year with so much rain and cloud. In fact for the first time I haven’t been able to capture one with my camera this year, so I am going to cheat and use one I took a previous year when November sunsets were more plentiful.  November treats in the garden are a bit thin on the ground so we have to make the best of what we get. And perhaps if it stops raining we will get one like this again soon, along with a rainbow and a dove with an olive twig in his beak.

Please check out the Propagator‘s blog to see what all the other bloggers have found for their Six on Saturday.

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In a Vase on Monday. The Four Seasons in Miniature.

Today is the sixth anniversary for Cathy’s meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’. To celebrate she invites her followers to create a miniature arrangement, not bigger than 6 inches wide or 6 inches tall. Today was a miserable day to prowl round the garden with buffeting wind and rain, but still it had to be done, we can’t let the occasion pass by unmarked.

I decided to see if the recent frosts have left me enough blooms to create the four seasons  so that I could celebrate the year in flowers for Cathy’s anniversary.

There are plenty of summer blooms hanging on to give a colourful summer posy. I put them in my flower brick from Highgrove. It is exactly six inches long.


In it I have a few little rose buds, some salvias including Salvia ‘Hot Lips, Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’and Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’. There is a pink scabious,  fluffy blue Ageratum corymbosum from the greenhouse. I used a  pink stock, a little white campanula, white Solanum jasminoides  and the fluffy heads of Pennisetum villosum.

The autumn posy is easy. The chrysanthemums are still going strong. Nerine undulata is always the last of the nerines to bloom. For leaf colour I used a red acer leave and bronze leaves from the damp loving fern, Osmunda regalis.

I used the tiny teapot that I still have from a miniature tea set given me when I went to Taiwan years ago.


I have had the small flowered ‘Picasso’ in a vase for three weeks and this spray is still fresh. When I took it out of the vase I noticed it had put out a root.


The little berries are berberis.

As well as ‘Picasso’, chrysanthemums are ‘Mary Stoker’, ‘Stratford Pink’ and ‘Golden Greenheart’.


My Winter vase has some red stems of Cornus alba ‘Siberica’,  variegated  Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’, the winter flowering heather, Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’, some red holly berries, Viburnum tinus, a sprig of Winter flowering Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum and pink and white Cyclamen hederifolium masquerading as the winter Cyclamen coum. I have sacrificed one of my precious snowdrops, Galanthus reginae-olgae as it is a special occasion.



Spring is a little more difficult. There are a few soggy primroses but their stems are too short for a vase and they don’t look very good. So I improvised a bit. I used Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ as a stand in for Mahonia japonica which is spring flowering for me. I also used flower buds from red and white skimmias which get their buds now and open up in spring.  The leaves of Euonymus japonicus ‘Silver’ King’ and Cyclamen hederifolium are to give a bit of spring freshness. And of course the lady on the  little Yolande vase is frolicking in delight just as I will be when spring comes.

So there are my four seasons to wish dear Cathy at Rambling in the Garden a happy sixth anniversary.

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31st October. Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went out on our bikes today and I was astonished at how many houses were draped with cobwebs and skeletons and pumpkins. When I was a child, Halloween  with all its accompanying tat and begging  for sweeties had not yet been imported from America. Instead we had Bonfire Night on the 5th November which was called Guy Fawkes Night and was always celebrated on the correct day; it never happened on the nearest Saturday or any other random day.  On Halloween we were busy making huge bonfires and an effigy of the  would- be Catholic incendiarist, Guy Fawkes who would be burnt on the big night. Instead of begging for sweets, children used to beg for a penny for their homemade guy which they proudly displayed. Where I come from in the north, the night before Bonfire Night was Mischief Night where children would indulge in a little light vandalism such as stealing wood from each others’ bonfires or hanging gates from lampposts. There were few large public firework displays, everyone had their own private bonfire parties and  ate baked potatoes and bonfire toffee. Children were free to set fire to their body parts with Roman candles, rockets and bangers such as Jumping Jacks which sometimes jumped into the firework box and set off the whole lot. Whizzing Catherine wheels often escaped from their moorings to fly through the crowd to add a few more random injuries. I wonder how many injuries there were each year.  Now of course, we no longer burn effigies of people and firework displays are carefully controlled. But instead we have to put up with Halloween with its plastic skeletons and children begging for sweets whilst their parents hover in the background In the UK,  8 billion pumpkins were bought and then binned afterwards last year. It seems an awful waste. So this house is a pumpkin and skeleton-free zone.  Instead, let’s go into the garden and see what colours there are in leaves and fruit as we go into winter.

First some lovely berries. My Callicarpa is looking good this year, it is the first time that it has covered itself in lush purple berries.

Callicarpa bodineiri

The black -stemmed Cornus alba ‘Kessellringii’ has berries like bunches of eyeballs.

Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’

I had a terrible apple harvest this year and that includes my crab apples. But Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’ hasn’t let me down.

Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’

I have a rare berberis which I grow for its amazing berries and although it is hermaphrodite it has been disappointing up until this year. But now I remember why I sought it out. It is called Berberis georgii.

Berberis georgii

 

This year is an amazing fungi year perhaps because of all the rain we have had. I’ll draw a veil over all the honey fungus toadstools which cropped up everywhere instilling terror and paranoia in me.  But here are some of the others.

Amanita muscaria. Fly Agaric.

Macrolepiota procera. Parasol Mushroom.


Acers are glorious in Autumn. I can’t remember the name of this one.

Acer

We have had several frosts but so far the dahlias are still standing and I am still gathering armfuls of them. This is Dahlia Cornel Bronze’ next the the glorious Acer osakazuki.

Acer osakazuki

But let’s not look at flowers now, here are more lovely leaves. The Forest Pansy is gorgeous all summer long and she goes out in a blaze of colour.

Cercis canadensis

I grow Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’  for the winter stems which are red but the leaves look good good in Autumn too.

Here is the best of several Euonymus which I grew from illicit seeds so I don’t deserve to have something so beautiful.

Euonymus

By this time of the year Ricinus communis has developed huge shiny leaves but I am always a little nervous growing it as it is such a deadly poison.

Ricinus communis

I have quite a few witch hazels and some of them colour up beautifully in the Autumn.

Hamamelis

And talking about witches, it may be Halloween but I am safe from them here. The huge Elizabethan fireplaces  in my house were added in the middle of the sixteenth century and each bressumer beam has an abundance of apotropaic marks which were marks made in the wood to stop witches coming down the chimney. There are also some by the door and some of the windows. So that’s alright, no witches can get in here.

Apotropaic mark in beam over chimney

Thank you to lovely Beatrice for the spooky picture at the top of this post.

 

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Six on Saturday. A Few Little Jobs on Hand.

1. Elastic boundaries.

Like all fanatical gardeners I acquire plants compulsively and I cannot leave the house without coming back with pocketfuls of seeds and cuttings. And then I wonder where to put all the plants and wish I had elastic boundaries. Well, I don’t need to wish anymore because my boundaries just pinged back to a degree which has astonished me. All along the bottom part of my garden, there is an ancient hedge which has obviously been gradually encroaching for many years. I have had little forays into it but the task was too big to make much impact. So I got three strong young men with heavy machinery in and ash trees, hollies, elders, field maples, wild cherry, swathed in ivy, brambles and nettles all got gobbled up in just one day. I am rather overawed and a little daunted by how much space there is now.

It all looks nice and clear but I have to dig out the roots of brambles, cow parsley and nettles and get rid of the ivy. And then it needs to be dug over and levelled. It does seem rather a big job and when friends say I must be mad, I secretly agree with them although I never admit it. The neighbouring land belongs to the old rectory, it is quite wild and nobody ever seems to go down there which is rather nice as it makes the garden feel secluded even without the hedge. All along the old fence there is rusty old barbed wire. I can’t think why anybody would put barbed wire there. Perhaps years ago there was a vicar living there who liked scrumping apples and pears when nobody was looking; this used to be an orchard. It would be a good deterrent because he’d get get his cassock caught up on the barbed wire. That would stop him.

2. Elastic-sided beds.
Whilst George and his muscly young helpers were digging up trees I thought it would be a good idea to make my winter garden bigger. First I got the shape I wanted with the hose pipe.


Then I put a weed membrane down. My days of digging up turf are gone for ever. It removes the top soil and condemns you to a lifetime of weeding and anyway it is not necessary if you use a good quality membrane. Some of the cheaper ones are like blotting paper and tear easily.

George had brought me a load of chippings which he was glad to unload. The Pianist had a sense of humour failure when he saw the drive blocked with this rather large pile.  He rather suspected that I might be hoping that he would get his tractor out and shift it. And he was right.

In a few hours my winter garden extension was decently clothed. The Pianist was delighted with the result and said he would be happy to do it any time because nothing is nicer than spending a few hours in the fresh air getting healthy exercise. ( OK, I made that last bit up.)

And I now have a nice path going up the side of my exotic garden too.

3. Non-elastic-sided  greenhouse.

I wish my greenhouse was elastic because it seems rather full and I suppose we can expect frost at any time now so I have to dig all the tender plants up from the exotic garden. First I have to take everything out and clean out the greenhouse.

4. Tender Plants.
But I have started digging up plants already and there seems to be rather a lot of them.

And there are loads more to come. Oh dear.

5. Succulents.

And then where on earth can I put all these succulents? They can’t stay outside. Of course I have propagated every single one so I have loads of babies to find a home for too.

6. Bulbs.

And as if that wasn’t enough I have a bottomless box of bulbs to plant. However many packets I take out and plant, there seem to be just as many sitting there waiting.

So there we have my Six on Saturday. For my post this week, there are no pretty flowers,  just jobs to do. And between you and me, don’t tell anyone, I sometimes wonder why I make so much work for myself. It doesn’t stop me though. I am  a hopeless case.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator who rules the Saturday garden bloggers.  So check out what he and all the other Saturday gardeners are up to. We alter the clocks today and start our descent into darkness, but I am sure there is a lot to see in the gardens of this dedicated bunch.

 

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Top Ten October Blooms.

I can’t believe it’s already time for my top ten monthly bloom post. This last month has whizzed by so quickly that I am feeling quite dizzy.

My October favourites are always my nerines but this year many of them are late and the buds have not yet opened. I keep most of them in the greenhouse but on a recent visit to Ashwood Nurseries garden I saw them planted out in a bed together with hesperantha and Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and they looked wonderful.

Ashwood Nurseries Garden

Ashwood Nurseries Garden.

I think they look fabulous grown like this and in theory any Nerine  bowdenii hybrid should be hardy but I have lost white ones in the open so mainly I corral them in the greenhouse.   Some of them, such as the  red N. sarniensis  or the first one in the mosaic, glamorous Mr. John’ would not survive outside. As they are not all in bloom yet I shall have to save some for my November post.

I do have them in the garden too and maybe I shall have to think about planning a bed like the one at Ashwood nurseries. The only trouble is that nerines like to be baked in the sun and hesperanthas like damp soil so I don’t know how they manage to grow them together. But I did try giving Nerine ‘Lipstick’ a blue geranium skirt .

Nerine ‘Lipstick’

Nerine bowdenii

Nerine ‘Stephanie’

I also risked my beautiful Amerine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’ in the gravel garden and it survived the winter.

Amerine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’

Lovely asters were a feature of the September garden but there are some that are at their best in October. Particularly white ones.

Symphyotrichum pilosum var. pringlei ‘Monte Cassino’

I particularly like asters with small flowers.

Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Red’

Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’

Chrysanthemums are going to be a November pleasure but some of them have already started. I have a very pretty low -growing white one which is no longer called a Chrysanthemum. I have to remember to call it Acrtanthemum articum now which doesn’t seem fair.  I’m still having trouble with Symphyotrichum. But whatever its name it is a very pretty plant which lights up its corner.

Arctanthemum articum

I came late to chrysanthemums but now I have an ever growing collection because I am grateful for late colour. I like the daisy ones.

My favourite double one is a peachy pompom called ‘Picasso’. It is long lasting in a vase.

Chrysanthemum ‘Picasso’

But this pink pompom is pretty too.

Chrysanthemum ‘Mei Kyo’

I think I will choose a tree for number four. It blooms in October with clusters of urn-shaped flowers at the same time as the strawberry -like fruit are produced. It is Arbutus unedo. The name ‘unedo’ means you only eat one. I think they are quite nice but I have a friend whom made himself quite ill gorging on them.

Arbutus unedo

Most mahonias have spiky, prickly  leaves but the aptly named Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’  has smooth ones which have a willowy appearance.

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Sweeet Caress’

I have been busy planting some different grape hyacinths for spring but here is a herbaceous plant which blooms in October with evergreen, strappy leaves and lilac flowers which look rather like a grape hyacinths. It is Liriope muscari.

Liriope muscari

My next plant is a dainty little knapweed which blooms in autumn in a sheltered sunny spot. It is called Serrulata tinctoria var. seoanei which is a bit of a mouthful with rather too many vowels but it is a pretty little thistle.

Serrulata seoani

I have the  lovely, hardy, climbing Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ which is a Brazilian species with deep pink and purple flowers. I grow it on the wall with Trachelospermum jasminiodes which gets deep red leaves in autumn and winter.

Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’

Of course Cyclamen hederifolium has been blooming since the end of August but now in October the plants are looking amazing. I have drifts of it in various colours. The marbled leaves are just as beautiful as the flowers.

I shall finish with my first snowdrop of the season. This is the autumn flowering snowdrop which is very pretty but it is a reminder that winter is coming. Next month is a difficult one when it comes to finding ten blooms to share. But I shall do my best.

Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. reginae-olgae

In the meantime please join me and show us your favourite October blooms. Never mind if you can’t find ten, one or two beauties would be lovely.

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In a Vase on Monday. A Delight of Dahlias.

I don’t know whether there is a collective noun for dahlias, but if we can have a ‘charm of goldfinches’, then why not a ‘delight of dahlias’? Once you give your heart to dahlias your late summer and autumn garden is transformed. I have grown dahlias from seed for a few years but in the past I concentrated on trying to get ever darker children of the ‘Bishop of Llandaff.’ This year after caring for 100 seedlings which was an awful chore, I have dahlias in every colour and shape; masses of them. They have been regularly fed, watered and deadheaded and they have been delighting me since July. Every week I fill vases with them and give bunches away. What other flower gives on this scale for so long?

Here are a few vases I did today, I started picking for one vase and then got carried away. The garden is very wet and drippy so I thought I would bring some of it inside. Let’s start with the reds. Several of them show vestiges of the white collar showing that ‘Night Butterfly’ is in their genes.


The bright red one in the centre is an old favourite ‘Murdoch’. These double ones don’t usually have seeds because they are a challenge for the bees. The one with narrow reflexed petals has ‘Honka’ in its make up. I have this shape in a variety of colours.


This next one is gorgeous. The petals aren’t as narrow as the ‘Honka’ ones but I love the way they are reflexed.

This one shows that it has ‘Honka’ in its blood as well as a tiny bit of ‘Night Butterfly’.

There is no ‘Honka’ here but a larger collar showing its’ Night Butterfly’genes

There are plenty of pinks ones too. The central dahlia has the  narrow petals of a ‘Honka’ dahlia.

I used some sky-blue Lobelia uliginosa and Verbena bonariensis in this vase. Also Aster ‘Little Carlow’, one of my favourites. The dark purple flowers are Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’.

The fully double pink dahlia with the white centre is the only fully double seedling . I actually prefer the single ones.


The next vase is mostly orange and peach.

I used a salvia and orange Sphaeralcea incana to go with it. This lovely plant has been blooming for weeks.
The next photo shows Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’ which is clearly the father of several of my seedlings. The one next to it has inherited the colour.

I think this next one is even better than its parent. The flowers are larger.

The pompom dahlia is ‘Cornel Bronze’, again this doesn’t set seed but I am not so keen on the pompoms anyway.

When you deadhead dahlias it is sometimes difficult to see which are buds and which are spent flowers. The ones to cut off are the pointed ones, the buds are round.

Save some for seeds though . It’s easy to pick out the black seeds  from the papery cases. Make sure that they are dry before storing. I sow mine in  late winter or early spring. It is amazing what big plants you have by the end of the season.

Here are a few more of my babies.

Thanks to Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden for hosting this fun meme.

 

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My Henri Rousseau Garden.

Continue reading

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Top Ten September Blooms.

As readers of my blog will know I create new areas in my garden all the time and the lawn gets ever smaller. For my September blooms I am going to feature plants in my newest gravel gardens; one created last summer and the latest dating from earlier this year. Both are already looking well established. Many of the plants have been blooming for ages and are still looking good.

Whilst I was in Greece recently I noticed Vitex agnus castus growing wild in abundance in a range of colours from purple to pink. I was amused to see it growing round the monastery at Mystras. The fruit used to be known as ‘Monk’s Pepper’  or ‘Chaste Berry’ as in the Middle Ages it was taken to reduce the male libido, so it must have been handy to have it growing round the monastery. Here it is in my garden. It has pointed palmate leaves which are aromatic and racemes of flowers which attract butterflies.

Vitex agnus castus

Vitex agnus castus

Another bee and butterfly magnet is the shrub Coryopteris x clandonensis ‘Pink Perfection’. Coryopteris is usually seen in powder blue but I am rather fond of this pale pink one. It is still very young but when it grows it should reach about 4 ft.

Caryopteris clandonensis x ‘Pink Perfection’

Years ago I saw Indigofera pendula growing in the late Bernard Ticker’s wonderful garden, Fuller’s Mill in Norfolk. I have been looking for it ever since because it is much more showy than the usual Indigofera heterantha. It has long dangling racemes of pink flowers. I found one for sale at the amazing garden at East Ruston Vicarage.

Indigofera pendula

It looks great with Angelonia ‘Raspberry’.

Here it is growing with Salvia ‘Wishes and Kisses’

Indigofera pendula

I love this salvia and it blooms for so long.

Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’

Nearby in this new bed I have a gorgeous pink scabious which has been blooming for weeks. It is called Scabiosa incisa ‘Kudos Pink’. It is a new variety with larger flowers than usual.

Scabiosa incisa ‘Kudos Pink’

I also have a new agastache called Agastache ‘Kudos Yellow’ which is big and bushy. I have never found agastache to be very hardy but they are easy from cuttings.They are deliciously aromatic.

Agastache ‘Kudos Yellow’

Agastache ‘Kudos Yellow’ looks good with the silver leaves and red flowers of Zauschneria californica.

This has been blooming all the month whilst I was away and it should go on into the autumn.

Zauschneria californica

Some of the plants in here are annuals like this pretty blue phlox. At least that is what I think it is. I usually make a list of all the seeds I buy but I don’t seem to have a record of this and I lost the label. Any suggestions?

Phlox

Plants do so well in gravel and they seed enthusiastically too. Bees and butterflies love the flowers I have in these gravel beds.

Leaving the gravel gardens for a bit I would like to feature two September climbers, One is an annual which grows huge and quickly covers the fence.  It is the cup and saucer vine, Cobaea scandens.  It is easy from seed. It usually comes in pale purple but I like the white form.

Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’

 

Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’

I also love the masses of little bells of the late flowering Clematis rehdriana. They are primrose yellow.

Clematis rehdriana

And now I have to add just one more to make it ten and it is difficult to know what to choose. This year I haven’t mentioned asters or colchicums or cylcamen although I love them and have them all over the garden. But I have featured them in previous years. So I will finish with a pure white Hesperantha coccinea ‘Alba’which caught my eye this morning as it is all spangled with raindrops.

Hesperantha coccinea ‘Alba’

Next time I will feature my exotic garden which is looking wonderful right now and has looked great for weeks. It is time it gets a mention, in fact it deserves a post of it its own. In the meantime it would be great if you could share some of your favourite September blooms.

 

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Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty.

I am a bit late with my Top Ten September blooms, in fact I haven’t been here to see what was in bloom for most of the month. The flowers I have seen are quite unlike the ones in my garden.

I have been in the deep Mani area in the south Peloponnese. Here there are villages of tall, medieval tower houses where people fought bitter feuds with their neighbours. Even today it feels very remote and some days we met more goats than people.

We stayed in Stoupa in the shadow of the Taygetos mountains where Nikos Kazantzankis wrote Zorba the Greek based on a real local character. It was transposed to Crete in the film. But here is where the real Zorba lived.

We went up the mountain to the magical site of Mystras, the ancient Byzantine capital. We bought our tickets from a beautiful boy with soulful eyes with the face of a Byzantine saint.

Mystras

We spent the night in the mountains overlooking Sparta. All round the Peloponnese in this ancient landscape you follow in the traces of legends and ancient history. Sparta is where the beautiful Helen was stolen away from Menelaus by Paris and this is what started the Trojan war. In the fifth century  Leonidas, the Spartan king led an army of 300 hoplites to fight the Persians at the battle of Thermopylae

Moon over Sparta.

We went to Cape Tenaron, the southernmost point of mainland Greece where Homer tells us the entrance to Hades  is guarded by Cerberus, the three- headed dog. We didn’t find the entrance to the Underworld but there is a temple to the sea god, Poseidon.

We went to down to cape Malea where Odysseus and his men were blown off course and landed on the island of the lotus- eaters. Maybe they landed on the nearby beautiful and lonely island of Elafonisos surrounded by turquoise waters and the most beautiful sandy beach I have ever seen.


‘All around the coast the languid air did swoon’. The Lotus Eaters. Alfred Tennyson

There were strange swimming companions.

And then we finished up on the medieval castle town of Monemvasia which is built on a rock sitting in the Myrtoan Sea.

It is a magical place at any time but especially when the sun has just risen.

Not much grows on this rock.


Coming home after spending most of September in Greece makes me realise how lucky we are with the sheer range and abundance of plants we can grow here. Although summer is over there is still so much to enjoy in the garden..


I am sorry to be late with my Top Ten September blooms but I shall do the post very soon. and then I shall enjoy reading about other September gardens and catching up with my blogging friends.

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The Jetty Garden by Night

From time to time I post about the amazing jetty garden my river-dwelling son, Bertie and his adorable Beatrice have created.  The 26th August, Bank Holiday Monday was a gloriously warm and sunny day and we were looking forward to a barbecue on the jetty which looks more amazing every year.  You approach it down a passage with shelves decorated with found objects.  There are portholes to give you glimpses of the river.

The jetty has been cleverly divided into rooms by walls of plants.

There is a dining area.

And the chef has wonderful river views as he barbecues.

Here is the relaxing area and what better to relax in than a hammock?

Everything is so healthy and well grown. I have never seen hostas like this with no slug damage and what on earth does Bertie feed them on? He waters each evening and painstakingly pulls off every slug and snail and throws them into the river. Being an animal lover he feels guilty about this. But you can’t be a gardener without the odd bit of slaughter. To make up for all the mollusc massacre Bertie and Beatrice lavish affection on the pigeon nesting in the garden.

There are not just massive hostas but just look at the size of this  Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa macra.

Hakonechloa macra

And I would like to know how he gets Hydrangea paniculata to look as good as this. The lovely silvery willow behind the hydrangea is Salix exigua.

There is a forest of tree ferns.

The palette is mostly green but with  punctuation marks of colour here and there.

As the day light began to fade twinkly lights came on, each with its own homemade shade.

The early evening light was beautiful.

And the sunset over the river was dramatic.


When it was properly dark the jetty was transformed into fairyland.

Thank you darling Boaties for a magical evening in your own personal Paradise.

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