I don’t often join with Chloris at the Blooming Garden when she writes about her favourite 10 plants for each month; however I think it is a good exercise to understand what pleasures each month brings. Continue reading
I have been absent without leave from blogland! I needed a little break and life has been very pleasantly busy over the Christmas and New Year period. I have enjoyed reading many of your posts but not commented again through lack of time. So to all of you that I haven’t wished an individual Happy New Year, I send you my very best wishes now. Continue reading
Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, the post where I urge you to consider and appreciate the benefits that foliage gives to your garden. Continue reading
As this first image shows, the formal beds gain all their structure from the foliage of the chipped box and lavender; in the Renaissance there was a balance in a garden between Art and Nature, the natural (always strictly under control) and the manmade often imitating nature to the extent that sometimes the viewer was unsure if something was Nature or Art. One of the ways that plants could be like art was by being tightly clipped so that the shadow thrown was as crisp and strong as that thrown by a wall. You can see the idea here with lower late afternoon light on the lavender and box.
This week has seen a big change in the weather. No more kidding myself that it is spring or autumn, winter has arrived. It is early for it to be so cold here in Lazio
On Monday I drove to Rome, I chose the road that goes over the Cimini hills (mountains) they aren’t that high so it rather depends where you come from whether you consider them mountains or hills, the highest point on the road is 850 m. It was cold but also beautifully sunny, as I was driving I saw in the distance the snow tipped peak of Monte Amiata, but that’s higher than the Cimini and way off in Tuscany so I didn’t change my mind about my route. Mistake! As I climbed the trees began to be sprinkled with white. Was it frost? Then it became clear, the trees were coated in a thick layer of snow; it was amazingly beautiful and I regret not taking any photographs, but I thought the road was too dangerous to stop. Cars coming in the opposite direction were driving very slowly and as I neared the highest point (860 m) there was a group of Carabinieri, stopping the traffic, saying the road was closed due to ice! So I retraced my steps and took a lower road to arrive at my destination an hour late on a journey that should have taken 50 minutes!
Then yesterday, Wednesday when the forecast said it would be sunny, it first rained and then hailed, huge pieces of ice some about the size if a marble, others smaller – and it was so cold that many remained on the ground for two days!
Today garden is white with frost, the clipped Lavender looking lovely outlined in white; but some intervention is needed; the lemons and limes that I had already moved from the north east side of the house to the west side to avoid the cold north wind (Tramontana) now need to be moved into the greenhouse, so a little rearranging is also called for there.
This year the Perovskia in the formal beds at the front of the house did not do well. I mulched the ground heavily to suppress weed growth and I think it must have been too acid; the plants haven’t grown as much as in other years and are only now beginning to flower well. The lateness of flowering is, I’m sure, also due to the exceptionally hot summer.
This is a bonus as the blue haze when I look out of the windows is very much appreciated now.
In the above image you can see where some of the lavender may be dead, I’m relieved to see that there is a lot of new growth on most of the hedge.
Here you can see the symmetry; taken from the centre of the front door. The pre-existing bay block at the back of the garden isn’t central, I’ve added a couple more plants but they need to grow to reach the height if the original before their presence will be felt. The Walnut trees are happily placed more or less centrally to the beds on each side, I also want to divide the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ so there are four in front of the Bay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.