End of Month Review, October

I treated last month’s review as an end of summer review and then October surprised me by becoming more like Spring!  Most of the roses flowered again and some Hemerocallis that usually only flower once flowered again.  Everything looked green and fresh with the cooler days and some rain. I also discovered some crocus which I was convinced should have been spring flowering, then I looked more closely and realised they were saffron autumn flowering crocus I had forgotten I’d planted.  So I have been picking and drying the stamens to use.

The bank is still the focus of new planting in the garden.  My decision is to plant with existing plants that I know do well.  Plants that have self seeded, plants that spread to inhibit weeds to form a prairie style planting that will blend into the surrounding countryside.

As I mentioned before I’ve been suffering with tendonitis in my right wrist and therefore have found it difficult to work very much in the garden.  I’ve now had a cortisone injection and daily physiotherapy and it is much, much better.  I feel renewed as the pain had been keeping me awake making me constantly tired!

A very good gardening friend came to visit and rather than visiting Assisi she offered to help begin the planting on the bank.  I want most of the bank to appear randomly planted with Stipa tenuissima forming the base planting – there are literally hundreds of seedlings of these in the garden, more than I need!  Into this I will add some Perovskia, other grasses and Gaura seedlings I’ve found in the circular rose bed.  Through this naturalistic planting I have begun planting some rivers of plants that will be visible only from certain points as you walk up the drive.

Linda planted a stream of 100 Allium Purple Sensation with 200 Muscari Armeniacum; and interspersed these with Artemisia ponticum I lifted rooted from around existing palnts (it dies back in winter so the muscari flowers will be seen but the seed heads will be covered as the Artemisia comes back into growth); edging this all the Schizachyrium scoparium I could find.  The autumn shades of the grass contrasting beautifully with the Artisimia.  Not following the path of the above ‘stream’ but following the path of the ‘stream’ of the existing prostrate rosemary we moved masses of Cerinthe major purpurascens.  I like these as here they flower during the winter but the foliage becomes very ugly so I usually pull them out as sonn as I think some seeds have set and spread.  On the bank I should be able to leave them longer and then leave the seedlings to grow where they will adding to the naturalistic feel of the planting.

With the rain small weed seedlings are growing on the bank so it is important to complete the planting as soon as possible.  Outside the garden area there are lots of Iris, next weekend I will lift some of these and add them into the matrix of Stipa to give early spring colour.

While Linda was here several areas of the garden were filled with blue butterflies that fluttered beguilingly in the low autumn light.

Plebejus argus

I also finished planting the small island bed and then mulched with shredded lavender prunings.

This bed is roughly a crescent shape 8m x 4m (at its widest part).

small island bed

The intention is that there will be no automatic irrigation to this bed.  Plants chosen will tolerate draught or better will prefer low levels of summer water.  My initial thought was to have this bed with only grasses but as there are grasses in every bed I decided to include some other plants though most do have linear leaves.

At present there are 2 Miscanthus that I will move in spring – they survive with little water but don’t perform at their best so I’ll move them to where they will be irrigated once a week.  Miscanthus planted in other positions that were irrigated once a week performed very well.  Achillea ‘Terracotta, Festuca glauca, Caesalpinia gilliesii, Callistemon, Euphorbia myrsinities, Euphorbia characias, Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’, Kniphofia ‘Little Maid’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’, Pennisetum Villosum, Sedum Matrona, Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’, Stipa arundinacea, Stipa gigantea, Stipa tenuissima,

Bulbs planted autumn 2010

Muscari armeniacum, Tulipa. Brown Sugar, T. Abu Hassan, T. Aladdin,  Allium Mount Everest, Iris Bronze Queen

Thanks to Helen the Patient Gardener for hosting the end of month meme.

8 thoughts on “End of Month Review, October

  1. So glad cortisone plus physio are easing your wrist problem Christina – and what a great friend! Love the sound of your bank planting plans, clever us of artemesia, muscari do get ugly as they age! Please can you keep us updated on the Island bed? Those Pennisetum are gorgeous, and I would really like to see the plant associations you describe come in to their own – I love how you combine perennials and grasses.

  2. So glad to hear that the wrist problem is easing – physio in the form of a brave friend helping is definitely the best medicine. Lucky you!
    Sorry not to have made my Villa Lante visit into an opportunity to meet: the visit was organised as a bus tour from Rome and I did not know what the schedule was going to be. On a previous outing I had annoyed the others by asking to be dropped off at a railway station, so I was on my best behaviour this time and just went with the herd. Another time, I hope. The guide was indeed very well informed and I hope to be able to engage her to do a tour of another garden for the MGS next summer. Shortage of time meant that my blog post did not cover even the tiniest fraction of what she talked about and what we saw that day, which included a visit to Sant Maria della Quercia.
    Happy bulb planting,
    Y

    • Next time! I visit Villa Lante often with my students and when I want some inspiration for perfect design, as I said I must get on with reading the new book. There has been a huge amount written in English that is often overlooked by Italian commentators who don’t read English.

  3. Your island bed looks wonderful. And to have enough lavender to use shredded prunings as mulch! I dream of lavender. It is much too humid here, and it hates my clay soil, but I have one plant i pamper in a raised bed. I love it so! It sounds like you and your friend got a lot accomplished. I am glad you are feeling better!

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