We have had a beautiful, extended autumn here with hardly any frost and the wonderful colours hanging on for weeks. Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sun’ in the background to the right is living up to its name, but the liquidamber has barely started its annual bonfire of colours.
So I will be seasonal and start my six with some bright berries. The brightest is of course, Callicarpa bodinieri with its profusion of long lasting, shiny amethyst- coloured berries.
Callicarpa is a bit boring when it is not bearing its astonishing berries, but my next berry bush, Clerodendron trichotomum var. Fargesii has fragrant starry flowers in summer. This shrub comes from China and I am not sure if I like the strong scent of the flowers, but I love its jolly turquoise blue berries which are revealed when the scarlet calyces split open. Actually, to be pedantic, I think we should call these berries drupes. But whatever they are called, they are very eye-catching.
I have already given my Euonymus hamiltonianus ‘Miss Pinkie’ an airing on this blog but she is still looking very pretty in pink, specially now the leaves have fallen off. She looks lovely against the silvery leaves of Cistus creticus which started its life here as a cutting; an illegal immigrant from Crete. As ‘Miss Pinkie’ was born from a found berry, I should call this corner of the garden ‘Crook’s Corner’ .
As I have several other November beauties to share today I shall bend the rules a bit and put all three berries into number one. Frost is threatened for next week so perhaps we should celebrate some hangers on from summer. Salvias are still going strong all round the garden and there are plenty of roses. Farrer called roses that hang on into winter ‘withered moths‘ but nobody could call the wonderful China roses that are barely out of bloom ‘withered moths’ . I think flights of butterflies would be more appropriate. I have two China roses, both of them with beautiful single flowers. It is difficult to choose a favourite, but the superb ‘Bengal Beauty’ has masses of red flowers which right now look lovely in front of the fiery autumn colours of Cotinus coggyria. Unfortunately, today is a dull day so that it doesn’t shine as it did yesterday.
For some reason that I don’t understand, roses that I always knew as Rosa chinensis now seem to be known as Rosa x odorata so I must have missed something. The next one is called ‘Mutabilis’ which is a good name as the colour of the flowers range from honey-yellow to apricot to pink.
I grow several alstroemerias and most of them are long gone. But my favourite seems to pump out flowers until the first frost. It is called Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’; it has dark foliage and flowers which are lovely sunset colours. This makes an excellent cut flower, so next year I shall get some more, a bed of them would be lovely.
November is a bit niggardly when it comes to flowering shrubs, but you can always depend on the yellow racemes of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’. I love the shrub for its architectural, shiny foliage and abundance of fragrant flowers which lighten up the gloomiest day. It needs to have a haircut in the spring after flowering to keep it compact, otherwise it can get a bit leggy.
For my last two plants I am going into the greenhouse. People are always surprised to see snowdrops in the autumn, but there are several which bloom in October and December and they are always welcome. My October one, Galanthus reginae-olgae has been and gone and my November-blooming Galanthus ‘Barnes’ was looking lovely a few days ago with nice plump flowers but it has been eaten by some horrible gastropod. But in the greenhouse I have a pot of dainty Galanthus peshmenii looking lovely. This snowdrop comes from the Aegean and our winters are probably too wet for it to survive outside.
Also still going strong in the greenhouse, I have the climbing Mimulus aurantiacus I think this plant comes from California, it blooms for months on end and I love its little monkey faces. It has sticky leaves and used to be called Mimulus glutinosus. Trying to keep up with these name changes is a full time job.
So there we have my Six on Saturday on this gloomy November day. I know there are probably nine in fact, but I never was any good at counting. Do go over to the Propagator who hosts Six on Saturday and you will find plenty of keen gardeners who have plenty to show us even though our gardens are winding down for the winter.