My list of what’s looking good in the garden this week is short, but I’m going to try to remember how stunning the last few stems of anemone coronaria and rosa “James Galway” are, and try to make more of them next November. I’m still looking for November combinations that please, to coincide with my daughter’s birthday at the end of October. With the advice of Clare from PlantPassion I think I’ve settled on fuschia as an anchor and potentially pots of winter-planted anemone coronaria to flower now, for a few shots of colour around the garden and in the last vases of flowers for the house.
The deep, relentless snow of last January means I’m holding more tightly than ever to the fading November garden, as damp and slippery as it is. I need to be willing to let it go to sleep completely for 12 weeks. I tell myself that it needs a proper rest after the hyperbolic show of growth of the last nine months. And I should be grateful for the chance to look past its outer self, with the x-ray vision autumn offers, and into its bones: at the camellia “Black Lace” that’s lurked behind the towering Nicotiana sylvestris and cosmos all summer, slowly budding up at the foot of the climbing rose. Admittedly it was a thrill to pull away the dying things two weeks ago and see that the winter scene was ready for me: the camellia, the red stemmed cornus, the six-foot tree stump that a reluctant ivy is finally embracing, and the lanky arms of Etoile de Holland stretching out above it all, finally getting old and woody enough to thin a bit.
Yes, I suppose I do appreciate that my garden tells no lies in winter. I am still feeling my way towards a design for this garden that feels balanced and always offers some degree of visual pleasure — a snack if not a feast — and winter is a unique chance to check my work. I’ve stared at this space so hard, for so many years now, that even the wet branches and fallen leaf mush of the well-planted bits thrill me, because I can see what they represent.
Since I returned to a part-time schedule in July, my time at the desk is intense, working back-to-back on different client writing projects as I try to pack as much as possible into my hours. This has forced me to actively seek ways to relax during my 15 minute buffer breaks between projects. I make myself go outdoors, usually with clippers, usually to cut something I can bring back to the desk or leave outside on one of the small tables dotted about the garden.
I only learn one or two things about gardening a year, and this is one of my 2010 discoveries: a vase of flowers left outside makes everybody happy. The flowers stay longer, the colours I like are brought closer together, the insects enjoy visiting them, and they make the seating places in the garden look so tempting that I’ve even sat in them.
I’ve shown a few of my favourite vases from the garden here. Which appeals most to you, if any? Do you prefer to cut things for a vase, or leave them to die naturally in situ?