Bloomday December

Up until this week we have been very lucky with the weather this autumn.  Yes, we’ve had a huge amount of rain, but that is necessary after no rain for 3 months in the summer.  The days in between have been sunny and mostly warm.  This week the temperatures are really dropping!  I know many of you think Italy is sunny and warm always but I actually think it is colder here in Viterbo than it was in southern England during the winter.  The skies are a beautiful pale blue and the temperatures are forecast as going down to minus 3 or 4° C but there’s also a north east wind blowing strongly (Grecale – I love that the winds all have a name) so with the wind chill factor, that’s about minus 8°C.  This is about the coldest it’s been since we moved here and it is forecast for the whole week, then next week warmer temperatures again and rain.  The cold days bring wonderful sunsets, for me they are even more beautiful than those in summer.

I harvested what were definitely the very last peppers this past weekend.  One red, one yellow and several green; I roasted them and they were still deliciously sweet.  I also lifted the fennel because I know that won’t stand the frost.  I made orange and fennel salad yesterday and will cook the rest and serve them as a vegetable during the week.

We took all the ties off the dead tomato plants and took down the canes, I want to plant garlic and onions in this bed soon (garlic on the shortest day of the year) so need to tidy it up a bit and clear it of all the fallen tomatoes, peppers and chillies that will seed themselves next spring if I don’t.  I hope it’s not too cold to get the garlic planted.

Until this cold weather the roses have surprised me by flowering so well.  The major interest in the garden is now from seedheads, berries and fruits.  I don’t have anything with colourful stems unless you count the Gaura.  Cornus, sadly, needs more water than I am prepared to give it and the sun is too scorching in the summer for any of the Acers with good stem colour.

Interestingly Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ was still wonderfully green until the frost on the 5th December when it turned a sunny yellow – its seedheads are still looking fabulous though, and it remains one of my favourite grasses.

Miscanthus Morning Light

On Monday 13th I picked some of the roses so I could enjoy them inside the house as I thought they wouldn’t survive outside.  I was pleasantly surprised as I took photos that many buds  still look viable.

An assortment of roses still flowering

The really big surprise was a single Muscari that I discovered just beginning to flower under the pine tree; I certainly didn’t expect to see that for another couple of months.

The first very brave Muscari

Click here or on the the Muscari image above to see a slideshow of all the brave plants flowering today.

We have such strong winds here that most of the leaves that have dropped from the trees have been blown off the borders and have ended up under the hedge, where I’m happy for them to stay.  The only things that have been completely blackened by the frost are some Cannas I grow for their leaf interest and the Dahlias so nothing that you wouldn’t expect to happen.  I have been trying to weed whilst I planted bulbs (not quite finished yet – but nearly) and then to mulch to try and stop annual weed seeds growing during mild spells in the winter and next spring.  Some beds and borders are very difficult to get into until the plants die back a little as all the beds are planted very closely, especially the left hand border.  I definitely need to get in there fairly soon.

With many thanks as usual to Carol at Maydreams garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloomday.  Visit her site to link to gardens all over the world and see what’s flowering in everyone else’s garden.  Carol has SNOW and you can understand why she dreams of May.