September GBFD – Getting the garden back

September has brought with it some refreshing rain, cooler temperatures and regrowth of foliage.

I was surprised just how many plants underwent summer dormancy this year; the high temperatures, hot wind and no rain meant that even many of my drought tolerant plants looked miserable, well to tell the truth many looked dead!  But the plants were being sensible retreating beneath the soil, or leaving brown crusty leaves above to protect and presumably reduce the temperature actually hitting the plant.

Now it seems more like spring, with new foliage pushing through the soil.  I am appreciating this growth even more than in spring because this is proof that the plants aren’t dead, so reassuring that they mayflower now, if the weather doesn’t become too cold too quickly or that they have time to build some strength before winter and another period of dormancy.

Re-emerging thyme

Bit by bit this thyme lost all signs of green until I was almost convinced it was dead, it all looked like the part on the right in the image above; now, slowly, slowly new growth is pushing through the dead, maybe I should give it a ‘haircut’ to allow more of the green foliage space to grow.

After pruning the lavender in the formal beds I was dismayed that so much seemed dead; while it was flowering all appeared well, the usual huge number of bees, butterflies and other pollinators all testified that the flowers contained the usual pollen and nectar; but after pruning there was a lot of dead wood, I did give it some water but the hedge is long and so it didn’t receive very much and hey – lavender doesn’t need irrigation!  Now most of the old wood is shooting, if you look closely you can see tiny new leaves appearing, some are doing even better with lots of new foliage covering the plants; I think one or two bushes maybe dead but they were planted quite closely so I think those adjacent will knit together to reform the hedge.

Spot the new growth

Looking down onto the upper drive border you can see there is now more green than brown. Stipa tenuissima needs a bit of a comb but the new growth is there.

I have removed most of the Festuca around the garden; even those that aren’t dead are too full of thatch which is impossible to remove.  I have some small plants that are potted up seedlings and the plants that have more living material can be pulled apart to yield some new specimens.

This year it has been easier to get started with the autumn clean-up because so much of the foliage had stopped growing.  Seeing the Iris foliage cut and looking clean and fresh really makes me feel I am getting the garden back.

Iris foliage standing to attention

This year all the foliage of the Hemerocallis died back; I enjoyed pulling away the dead leaves and seeing tiny green shoots; within a week they have grown back, I think they may even flower again!  In the background the Nepeta has also grown back quickly after trimming away all the dead flowers and foliage.

As you come in the gate at the bottom of the drive, the prostrate Rosemary always look happy, they are even beginning to flower!  That is even earlier than usual, every time I pass there is a waft of bees and butterflies in the air.

New buds and foliage, Rosa Clair Martin

Many of the roses are putting on delicately coloured new growth, this is what feels like spring, best of all there are buds and flowers as well.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what foliage is giving you pleasure now that autumn is here in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern.  Please just add a link to your post with your comment.  Thank you in advance I really appreciate you joining in this meme.

Is it autumn or spring?

The weather continues to play tricks on the garden – the plants are confused; is it spring? Certainly the roses, Hemerocallis and Photinia think it is; even the Quercia ilix have put on considerable new growth in the last few weeks, the colour of the new foliage is very obvious.

A bright green halo of new growth on the holm oak

R. Rhapsody in Blue also smells wonderful when I pass

R. mutabilis

Rosa mutabilis hasn’t had as many flowers as this since spring.

Hemerocallis are full of flower

Hemerocallis are full of flower creating the same combination as in spring with R. Molineux – this is the rose that really does believe it is spring it has so many flowers and buds I can hardly believe how lovely it looks.

R. Molineux is pure yellow again, in summer it was apricot coloured

R. China rose is growing so well; I had decided to move it but it is now growing so well I don’t want to risk losing it, perhaps it would be better to take some cuttings and when I know I have a safety net I can risk moving the parent plant.

Cerinthe major purpurascens certainly thinks it is spring or at least not autumn as sometimes it does flower very early in the year when it is still winter.

Cerinthe

On the other hand, the walnuts and fig  have now lost most of their leaves so they know that winter is not so far away.

autumn grasses, red new growth on the Photinia, no leaves on the walnut and fig, Perovskia flowering again

All the grasses are doing what is expected of them in autumn – that is looking wonderful with the low sunlight shining through them.

Miscanthus with Abutilon in the background

The strawberries are still providing a few tasty mouthfuls and the flowers promise more to come.

Rain has fallen this week, but more as April showers than the heavy rain of autumn (we have been lucky, you will have seen on the news the terrible floods that there have been in Liguria, Tuscany and in Torino); but the temperatures have remained very mild, still no need for central heating, so the question remains “Is it Spring or is it Autumn?”.

 

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day October 2011

Welcome to the second GBFD!  I’m hoping to see some wonderful autumn colour from some posts; here in Italy, although we’ve had some rain and coldish winds for a week, the garden, in many ways, looks more like Spring than autumn.  Our autumn colour usually begins mid-November and is often very short-lived.  So I’m depending on you to share the colour around you with me.

I’d also like to thank everyone who joined in or left comments last month; there were some fascinating posts all with great images, this month should be even better with autumn (fall) beginning to give some beautiful colours in the northern hemisphere and spring just commencing in the southern hemisphere.

I have the feeling that the garden thinks it’s spring; is not just the number of plants blooming, and I have to say that there are now more than there were a week ago for GBBD; no, it is more the new foliage on everything from the red new foliage of the roses, to the fresh bright green of the Arbutus, to the peachy hues of Nandino.

I love this huge mas of Thyme with holly behind

Having said that there are a lot of flowers in the garden, it is the foliage that is predominant.  Maybe the blooms are smaller now or fewer per plant but whatever it is, the foliage sings out.  Looking from the drive across the upper drive bed to the large island the variety of different greens and not only greens of the leaves is like a tapestry or an embroidery blending together to give the garden a harmonious feeling.

New 'spring' growth on the Nandino

I never remember the name of this self seeding annual gem.

I was given a specimen of the above plant last year, during summer it is a bright vibrant green; it needs little water even though it looks as if it would be very thirsty.  In autumn the leaves turn first pink, then crimson, the flowers are the same colour as the foliage so maybe I’m cheating including this in a foliage post, but it looks much more like foliage than flowers so I’m including it.  I will try to check on the name and add it when I can.

Stipa tenuissima on the bank always gives me pleasure

At last this wonderfully lace-like Albizia 'Chocolate' is beginning to grow

I bought Albizia ‘Chocolate in September 2009; it only just survived the cold winter last year and until the last couple of months has hardly grown at all.  Suddenly it has begun to put on some healthy looking growth so I’m crossing everything hoping that at last it has its roots down and will grow into a small shrub and to take its part in the silver and purple combination I’m trying to achieve in the large island bed – all with plants that need no irrigation!

Most of the lavender has put on lots of new grow after being heavily pruned in early August.  It does sometimes grow back from old wood.  The colour and form is just right as we go into autumn and winter.

Box, lavender and the view to the fig tree with its tinsel bird frighteners

All the grasses are looking at their best, but I’m not going to include them here as it is their flowers, even if they don’t seem like flowers that are the attraction at the moment.  You can see them in the background of many of the photographs.  I have been surprised that Penisetum villosum continues to produce flowers into the autumn, there was a moment in mid-summer when I thought they were finishing.

Beautiful and also delicious fennel

Doesn't broccoli have amazing blue foliage?

When I was wandering around the garden I noticed that the leaves in the vegetable garden were putting on quite a show.  Bright green, feathery Florence fennel and the almost blue or jade colour of broccoli foliage help make the vegetable garden pretty as well as productive.

Click on the image below to see more foliage from My Hesperides Garden.

Looking across the large island bed to the greenhouse

I hope you will join in with your own foliage, either just one stunning leaf or a review of how foliage works for you in your garden, please leave a comment and the link to your post.

It’s September and Autumn is here

It is strange how from the extreme heat of mid-summer only a few days ago, now it is suddenly autumn.  This week the mornings have been noticeably fresher with dew left on the ground after the night; giving the plants some refreshment even if it hasn’t rained.  Autumn is when I can start work on the garden, moving, dividing, planting, in summer it’s too hot and even in spring I can’t guarantee that there will be rain for the plants to establish.  So I’m slowly winding up to having more time to garden when it isn’t too hot.

Looking back through my note book I read that there is much to be done.  In 2009 I noted that the new foliage of Nandino was the same as the flower colour of Iris Kent Pride; and they were the same colour at the same time so yesterday I began by lifting and dividing one patch of Iris Kent Pride which had been infested by a spreading thyme and planting them close to a Nandino where I had removed some Bergenia cordifolia that really couldn’t cope with the heat and full sun, this position should suit the Iris perfectly.

Above Iris Kent Pride and below Nandino showing its new foliage.  You can see the stoney soil quite well in these images.

The clump of Kent Pride with thyme invading it

Newly planted, with lots of space to allow for growth

I also moved some beautiful blue Iris Jane Phillips; these were in the Left hand border and had been happy to begin with but the micro-climate of this border have changed.  The mulberry has grown considerably and is creating more shade, also other plants have grown and they are also throwing more shade onto the Iris; lastly the bay hedge which I hadn’t thought was growing quickly enough I now realise has grown a lot and this too means there is more shade in the morning. So I moved half the existing clump, half of these to the drive border near a Ceonothus repans again this is a similar colour, the rest I planted near the prostrate rosemary on the slope.

While I have been lifting and replanting I have also been selecting seedlings of various plants that I have potted on for use in other parts of the garden and for clients.  Below you can see some of the many Stipa tenuissima seedlings, as I‘ve mentioned many times before these seed prolifically in the free-draining tuffo that is my soil.

1 tray of 15 stipa tenuissima

Asclepias tuberosa has been flowers for long periods during the summer but I find the seed pods and seeds dispersal nearly as interesting as the flowers.  I intend sowing these seeds as they are hardy and have a low water demand and would look better planted in larger groups.

Asclepias tuberosa flowers

seedpod just opening to reveal the seeds attached to white 'fluff' to disperse it

With the autumn come different skies and different sunsets here is yesterday evening’s show.

Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Kark Forster' in the foreground

The sky changes every second as the sun sinks, the silhouettes of the trees and shrubs seem black against the fiery sky.