Tag Archive | crocosmia

Winter Gardening

As the last of the leaves flutter to the ground, the gardening year comes to an end. Very little will still flower after the first hard frost, and in my garden I just have a few solitary Schizostylis still going strong. It won’t be long before the camellias start opening their fat buds, and the witch hazels also, but there is a definite gap around the shortest day.

This is the start of the Big Winter Clear-up. Firstly the fallen leaves, which find their way into every nook and cranny. Then the Crocosmia foliage is to be pulled off before it gets too brown and mushy. Many of the perennials can still add structure and seed heads to the winter garden, so I always prioritise those that look at their worst, and leave the prettier ones ’til the spring.

Once the autumn vegetation is cleared, I can then see the structure of the garden more clearly, and it will give me a chance to check all the edges of the paths and borders. Many are edged with logs which have rotted, so will need renewing.

I am creating some new paths as well, along desire lines, which are the routes that one wants to take around a garden. They should be the basis of any good garden design, as there is little point in placing paths where no-one wants to walk.

 

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There was a definite need for a path across this flower bed, and we were taking short-cuts last winter without a path. I have finally completed a new, levelled path, connecting an existing path with the large lawn, and a route which heads down the garden.

The whole thing is made with an assortment of stones that I have found while digging the garden. There were a lot of flattish oval shaped stones, and they have been half-buried on end along the front to create an edge. Then the body of the path was laid in a crazy-paving style using all sorts of shapes of thin, flat stones. To finish off, it is topped with a dressing of gravel which will work its way into the cracks and help to prevent the stones shifting.

When I have tackled the border beyond the path, it might be nice to build a little retaining wall for that border, but I have had quite enough of working with stones for the time being!

Cracking Crocosmias

Crocosmia sprigs

 

I seem to have at least 4, possibly 5 types of Crocosmia in my garden, and they are all looking fabulous! Biggest and boldest is C. ‘Lucifer’, which is early flowering, tall, with pleated leaves, and upright facing red flowers.

 

Crocosmia lucifer collage

 

My favourite! I have plenty of clumps of it, but some are growing through and under shrubs, so I need to move them into the open. I also have a tall, upright facing rich orange one, possible the species Crocosmia masoniorum, or a variety of it.

 

Crocosmia masoniorum collage

 

This one is new to me, and is gorgeous. I only have one clump of this, so might try and divide it. I also have a smaller slightly pinkier red form, with flowers that lift sideways, but aren’t as upright as the above forms, that I really don’t know what it is. Answers on a postcard…

 

Crocosmia small red collage

 

Then there is the Crocosmia of which I have the most. I have clumps of it everywhere. It is most likely the common garden montbretia, Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, with downwards facing flowers, but it is quite vigorous, and a very bright orange.

 

Crocosmia collage

 

The only thing that makes me doubt it is common montbretia, is that I have a shorter, paler form, which is more like the one I used to have. Is that paler form something else, or is it the common one, and all my dark orange ones some other variety? I really don’t know. Most likely they are the same, and just growing differently in different microclimate within the garden. This is the pale one, and you may not be able to see a difference, but it is fairly obvious in the garden.

 

Crocosmia pale collage

 

Well, whatever they are, they are all gorgeous, and make good cut flowers, so my house is full of orange flowers!

 

Crocosmai flowers

 

A summery summary

The last few weeks have flown by so quickly, with days away visiting family and friends, and plenty to do in the garden. It is amazing how much the floral palette has changed in just a couple of weeks.

 

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In early summer, borders were filled with low billowing mounds of pink and purple hardy geraniums, white oxe-eye daisies, with plenty of acid green Alchemilla mollis. Now those are mainly finished, and instead the taller, late summer perennials have taken over, including crocosmias and Japanese anemones.

 

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There are around 12 clumps of Japanese anemone, with attractive purplish foliage, and the most lovely rich pink double flowers. I am relieved, as some are less attractive, with smaller, paler pink flowers, and to have so much of something a bit dull would have been a shame. But no, they are gorgeous. And its a good job too, as from previous experience I know they have very deep roots and are nigh on impossible to dig up!

 

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I also have one large clump of  very pretty Veronicastrum, with lovely whorls of leaves and tall flower spikes. It has flopped a bit in the recent rain, so it might be getting the ‘Chelsea Chop’ next May. Some late-flowered perennials can benefit from being cut down by half in late spring, which produces a shorter, sturdier plant, but with later, smaller flowers.

 

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Some of my many hydrangeas are now in flower, although the ones we cut hardest are still sulking. I only have one lace-cap, which is a shame as I much prefer them to mop-heads. But at least, with my acid soil, it is blue!

 

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Some of the mop-heads are also blue, and a lovely clear blue too – no muddy in-between colours here!

 

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And the rest are a rich purple.

 

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One of the paniculata type hydrangeas is also flowering profusely, and is a delight!

 

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I am very pleased with the buddleias, mainly, as some of them have amazingly large flowers in rich shades.

 

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I also have a white one, which could be ok in the right place, which is not next to a rather nice white Hebe, above a bed of a white Lysimachia. Why??? Something will have to move.

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So the flower border is looking very pretty, (if you don’t look too closely…) but I do now have to start cutting back all the early flowers which have finished, which will be a big job. Another big job…

We are making progress towards a new shed at the far end of the garden, as the one near the house is not large, and really only a potting shed. We have had a base laid on the only level patch we could find, and now we just need to order one. Exciting!

 

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Bye for now!

 

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Not all cream teas and coast walks

I know that I paint a picture of a lovely lifestyle here in Devon, and, don’t get me wrong, it is pretty good, but there are always going to be things that go wrong, and things that need dealing with, and it is all hard work.

Today we had our leaky shower fixed, so that is one issue dealt with. Tomorrow an engineer will hopefully stop our precious heating oil dripping from a leaky joint. Then the garage door gets fixed….it just goes on and on.

It’s not much better in the garden.

 

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This is the archway right outside my kitchen door. Once an attractive structure, I am sure, with a lovely climbing rose carefully trained over it. Now it is a crumbling unsightly eyesore completely swamped by dead rose stems. There is an outer layer of living rose, but it obviously hasn’t been tended for years. It will have to go!

Talking of roses, do you know the species rose, Rosa rugosa? Healthy foliage, large single fragrant pink flowers, followed by huge orange hips. What’s not to like???

 

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This is one of three patches of Rosa rugosa in my garden. This one is at least 10 metres across… It spreads, and regrows if chopped to the ground, and is extremely thorny. It has to go before it takes over. Yeah…maybe next week.

 

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This is the centre of my main perennial bed. I haven’t tackled this area yet. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was there until I had trimmed away some dead foliage round the edge, and saw what was beyond. I will get to it soon, now I have finished working on the front of the border.

 

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The wheelbarrow contains the dead leaves of just one of my fifty thousand clumps of crocosmia. The border does look better now I have cleared away the dead stuff though. The photos aren’t quite at the same angle, but you get the idea.

 

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It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I uncovered this little beauty while clearing – it is a spring snowflake, much taller than a snowdrop, and a solid bell rather than individual petals. Not supposed to flower until at least February.

 

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Everything is confused by the weather. This hydrangea is continuing to put out new flowers!

 

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as does this azalea.

 

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And the daffodils and other bulbs are coming up all over the garden, so I have a feeling we are going to have a spectacular spring display. If it ever stops raining!

 

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The first day of the rest of my life

A dramatic title, I know, but that is how today has felt. Before Christmas we were busy unpacking, sorting, fixing, and shopping. Over the holidays we had the family staying, which was lovely, but was not ‘normal’. We haven’t had a chance to find our new normal.

Yesterday I put away the decorations, vacuumed up the pine needles, and recycled the Christmas cards. With that done, today I could make the most of a dry day, and spend the day gardening.

 

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I am still cutting down perennials, as I have been for the past month. I have an awful lot of crocosmia…

After several barrowloads of slimy brown leaves had been collected and added to the compost pile, I needed a ‘vertical’ job to give my back a break. The view from one of our living room windows was blocked by a conifer planted on the bank opposite, and behind the conifer was a huge fatsia.

 

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A magnificent specimen, sure, but not when it takes my light and blocks my view. Hubby had already cut down the conifer, so I finished the job by taking the fatsia down to a short stump. It has some new shoots down low, so will regrow, and hopefully we can keep it small for a few years. The view from our window is much improved, I think you’ll agree.

 

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We just need to clear away all the conifer branches, and saw the stumps a bit lower, but the view is already much better. There is still a decent sized pieris on the left, which I intend to keep, but which will have a good haircut once it has flowered.

In between barrowloads it was pleasant to stroll round the garden and see what’s new. There are daffodils sprouting everywhere, and one clump is in full flower. I even have a vase full in the house, of the buds that have flopped over with the weather.

 

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This little chap was an unusual surprise for January!

 

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By mid afternoon I was extremely tired, and collapsed on a bench to rest. All I could hear was the rushing sound of the fast-flowing brook in the valley below, and the twittering of the birds feeding in the trees above. It was bliss.

 

If this is my new normal, then I am liking it a lot.

 

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