GBFD – Sunshine, blue sky, I’m smiling

Welcome to Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day, where I celebrate the foliage that is the most important feature of my garden.  Today, as you can see from my title is sunny and after a cold start is now beautifully warm.

Looking across the garden from the top of the drive

Looking across the garden from the top of the drive

Apart from the leafless trees this scene looks more like summer.

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The Spring Walk – Back Border

I mentioned last autumn that I was extending and changing the planting in the back border to create a spring walk.  I was also toying with the idea of adding a pleached hedge of Lime (Tilia) or Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus).  I’m still thinking about this as maybe a pleached hedge would block out a lot of the sky from my kitchen window (not so good); it would also obscure the view of the nearest house (good). Continue reading

My Thoughts – Plant Fair at Courson

A couple of weekends ago I flew to Paris for some serious indulgence; no, not food, not culture but plant hunting.  Several of my Italian friends had visited the plant fair at Courson in previous years and were full of enthusiasm.  I have to admit to being a little sceptical.  So far, no plant sales fair in Italy has been very good – poor quality plants, always in large sizes and often straggly tall plants that don’t bush out.

I left home late-morning on a warm, sunny Friday; I’d studied the forecast and rain was predicted for late Friday afternoon and Saturday early morning but clearing by 10 am – it might be cold, but warm clothes were not a problem; I’d actually rather be hot than cold.

I was with a French-speaking friend who had visited on several occasions previously (she is a Botanical artist and has had stand to sell her work at Courson in the past).  Our hotel was near the Jardin du Plantes so our walk to the station the following morning was through the garden; a nice start to the day (it was very grey with very low cloud but trusting in the forecast I was hopeful that by the time we arrived the sun would be shining!

As we boarded the shuttle bus that took us the last 30 minutes of our journey to the Chateau of Courson the rain began to fall in earnest, I was trying to be very positive that the rain would stop before we arrived, but no, it rained and it rained and it rained for most of the day turning the ground into a quagmire of mud.

But I had come too far to be put off; French couples and ladies on their own were arriving well prepared with shopping trolleys on wheels, waterproof boots and weatherproof coats with hoods!

Undeterred we entered the showground, first port of call a small tent manned by two patient men each with a computer.  Ask them the name of a plant you were searching for and they would look it up and tell you which stands had it!!!!!!!!!!  I was impressed.

Rows and rows of plant stands, all with great plants; it seemed like paradise.

I wasn’t sure what I would buy but I was hopeful that I would find a good selection of Agapanthus.  Now you may think that Italy would be an ideal place to grow Agapanthus and indeed many gardens have them but all I have been able to find are the very large evergreen varieties that suffer badly each winter and every year I am fearful they won’t survive.  I wanted some hardy perennial varieties that I knew would survive the winter well in my free-draining soil.  Success!  I soon spotted a stand specialising in only Agapanthus!  Better still (from my point of view) he was a Yorkshire man, a holder of the National collection.  We were soon deep in conversation while I was selecting which of his vast assortment of varieties to buy.  The rain came down even harder, he very kindly offered me an umbrella (I had left mine in the hotel – believing the forecast and also not wanting to have one hand occupied uselessly).

With my purchases from him made and the plants safely in bags behind his stall, awaiting collection later in the day I was ready to begin searching for other plants that would fit in my one suitcase.  With my borrowed umbrella I could at least keep my head dry.

Do check out his website, all the plants were well grown, good sized and he promises will flower in their first year in the ground. Agapanthus specialist.

‘Something for the Garden’ – The Agapanthus stand in a moment without rain

Next up Irises; something else that grows wonderfully for me here but which for some strange reason are difficult to find in nurseries here or when you do find the odd one cost a fortune.  Cayeux, one of the leading Iris growers and sellers in the world did not disappoint although if I had been searching for particular varieties I might have been better to simply order on-line; they too have an excellent website and if I decide to buy more I will order from them in this way.

My other passion, as my regular reader will know is grasses; again I was spoilt for choice with many of the stands having grasses and a couple of specialist growers too.  A few found their way into my bags along with some Asters a friend asked me to look out for.

Plant hunters were undeterred by the incessant rain

The show doesn’t have show-gardens, nothing to distract from the pursuit or plants!

This was the closest to a show garden any of the stands got.

I have never seen anything like this before; maybe Hampton Court Flower Show would be the nearest thing but Courson had hundreds of top quality nurseries selling an amazing number of different plants.  I haven’t mentioned the vast selection of trees, shrubs all in different sized containers.  I think many English gardeners would love this show.  It’s not far from Paris and so great for a weekend break.  We combined this with a day seeing the show gardens at Chaumont.  But that’s for another day.

If you are travelling by plane, some careful thought is needed.  My choices of Anapanthus and Iris I packed without soil; the grasses too, I removed most of the soil while still at the show ground.  A tiny Kaffir Lime I tenderly wrapped and placed with soft cushioning around it to protect it from the sometimes rough treatment of the baggage handlers.

Autumn light – dusk

The evening autumn light is magical; it washes the garden in warm colour.  Fleeting though it is it is one of my favourite times of day in this season.

The rays of the sun wash over the trunk of the mulberry making the seat under it even more enticing, if only for a few minutes.

Where would the garden be without grasses?

The light captures their ephemeral beauty.

….. and then of course there’s the sky!

GBBD November

The weather is still very good for gardening, last Saturday the wind changed direction, the tramontana, or the wind from the north (or literally the wind from the mountains) was blowing; this is what I call a lazy wind, because rather than go around, it goes straight through you!  The sun is still shining and so it is still pleasant to be outside if you’re protected from the wind.  By Monday it was lovely again, warm, sunny and a real joy to be in the garden

I think there are as many, if not more, flowers blooming as there were in October.  Even the Philodelphus has a couple of flowers.

In my last post I asked whether it was spring or autumn; there is still a lot of new growth on many shrubs but all of the trees have either lost their leaves or their leaves have changed colour so the answer to my question is now it is autumn.

Almost every variety of rose I have has blooms; outstanding are the usual suspects of Rosa mutabilis plus R. Molineaux which looks as good as in spring and R. China Rose – this was given to be by a friend as a rooted cutting it is today looking wonderful, I had been thinking of moving it but until I’ve taken some cuttings myself and know that they have taken I don’t think I would want to risk losing it.

R.Molineaux covered in blooms

A perfect bloom, not autumn looking at all

It’s companion planting of Hemerocallis Sol d’oro.

R. China Rose

and in close up

I love the light at this time of year – it is so bright (difficult for photographs) and lower in the sky so it lights up the grasses all day and not just in the evening as in summer.

Back border

Reading about gardens in other parts of the world where there has already been frost or snow makes me realise how lucky I am enjoying this extra-long season of good weather.  I’ve only just put the heating on in the last couple of days and then only for a couple of hours in the evening.

I have been changing a small area around the Arbutus.  It had a strange mix of oddments that I’d put there when I didn’t know where else to plant them; I wanted to have an area with Asters for autumn interest, I also realised looking at images for recent posts that I have quite nice mix of plants all with crimson blooms, I have decided to put them all here adding to an Oleander and Salvia of that colour.  The rose will be to be moved later in winter but I’ve moved a Penstemon (a cutting from Linda’s garden in the West) and divided some claret achillea’s to extend the period of interest, so this area will be crimson all summer hopefully, next autumn I’ll put in some crimson tulips too to stretch the season even more.

Penstemon, just moved and looking a little sad

Salvia, such difficult plants to photograph

R. ? Braithwaite

Achilliea

Click on the image below to see all the blooms in My Hesperides Garden this month.

Thanks to Carol at MayDreams Garden for hosting GBBD, why not visit her and then see what’s blooming in gardens all around the world.

Don’t forget to join in Garden Bloggers Foliage day on the 22nd November, I really look forward to seeing all the lovely autumn colour and the spring foliage from the southern hemisphire