Novemberish gales are blowing the September garden sideways and making me think prematurely about mulching, clearing and cozying in. The open wire grille I put down to keep leaves out of the pond has stopped airborne bits of recycling from pummeling the tiny puddle of water and its newts. I’d never managed to cover the pond before this year. Maybe last winter’s swift, shocking start in November is what has me bracing for the end of the gardening year, and a bit too soon. The apples and pears are bearing, most leaves are stuck fast to branches and the late asters haven’t even shown yet.
Do you do dahlias? I’ve never grown one I liked — they are martyrs to earwigs, which means I’m not tempted even by the lighter, arier single types. The more traditional dahlias, great blobs of colour, are repellent to me. The autumn roses I grow are fat and colourful, too, but all are balanced with large areas of their own green foliage. The dahlias are unrestrained, unremitting splotches of red, pink and purple blowing a technicolor raspberry from the border — you can keep them.
An autumn combination I prefer is growing now in the hall border, which I see foreshortened from my office window, so far-apart plants appear side-by-side. It includes:
- heuchera palace purple
- aster frikartii Monch
- liatris spicata
- schizostylis coccinea major
- Lobelia fan blue
- Rose de Rescht
- Rose Zephyrine Drouhin
- Rudbeckia Goldsturm
- Lonicera (honeysuckle) berries
- alchemilla conjuncta
I’ve tried so hard to get autumn colour here, especially late autumn colour, for my daughter’s birthday at the end of October. That means I really need November colour, and that’s hard.
Maybe this is the real reason I’m looking ahead to November: I’m keen to know if this year’s show will be any better, now that the persicaria and chrysanthemums will add to the later asters (Alma Potschke) and Schizostylis. Claire last year suggested some of the hardy fuchsias as good performers into November, and I’m propagating some from cuttings now.
Sorry if it’s tedious for you, but I keep coming back to this question of November interest (see here and here) because I can’t get it right. My two children are November and February birthdays, and a garden show at those times of year is Advanced Gardening. I have this vision of a blanket of snowdrops beneath black-ball Rudbeckia seed heads from the previous autumn. Do you think this will work? It would be some achievement to have a good autumn-into-winter show that celebrates both kids. But much of the garden gets too little sun for the Rudbeckias, and even those that thrive would need to withstand Scottish wind, snow and thaw.
I’m not sure if this black and white plan will work (I’m trying to propagate the Rudbeckia just in case), or if my kids will even know what I was trying to do for them.
Although plantings that are “for” others aren’t really what we gardeners do, is it? The planting is for us, to echo our feelings or memories of those who mean so much, we need them in the garden with us.
Who have you planted for? What did you plant?