Another day in the Garden – September/October 2013
What a few weeks it has been, so busy and the weather so very mixed. I wish I had already done more staking, more weeding, more cutting back and Chelsea chopping, etc . But much of what has been out in September is still blooming well for us now so it seemed a good idea to combine the two months. Also I am delighted that on the warm days my bees are still flying and collecting pollen; and the late summer's daisy flowers are attracting them all to stay in my garden. I can recognise my own bees, as far as that is ever possible, by their colouring, mine have a slightly golden stripe on their abdomen, near to the waist, compared to native wild bees on the island which are black and dark striped. There are lovely docile golden German bees that were introduced some years back and their drones have inter-bred with many colonies on the island and created swarms that have been collected. So my pretty, gentle colony is doing well, has plenty of supplies for this coming winter and I hope will make it through in good health so I can split them next spring and get a second colony going. I hope it is a late but hard winter and not too late spring as that is best for bees, mushy in between weather is not much good because they go out foraging when there is nothing to be found and waste their energy but proper cold keeps them tucked indoors.
Anyway it is daisy time and I love them all, Echinacea, asters galore in a rainbow of purple, blues and pink colours and rudbeckias and helianthus in gorgeous shades of yellow. I also love all the sudden last spurts such as a bedding rose which socked us with a full second bloom and contrasted so well next to an abelia covered in bees, with a dark Cotinus purple palace to off-set the grouping. I stick with the simple-to-grow varieties again since I am more interested in their providence as cutting flowers for guests and a late larder for bees, anything else is just a bonus for us.
Small gingko, aster, red hips of Rosa rubrifolia and forest pansy with Garrya elliptica
We are limited by the asters we can grow here because of our well drained sunny position not offering much in the way of moisture in mid to late summer soils, but the New England varieties seem to do well for us here without mildew troubles and we have a selection of about 14 I think in total although again I am not so clever in remembering exactly what we have out there, just loving it all instead. These include Andenken an Alma Potschke, Violetta, September ruben, and others whose names have worn off and I cannot remember sadly. Does the name mean you can love them more or less – it make not jot of difference to me but it means I am not much use to tell people who want to go and buy the same plant from somewhere so I apologise for that.
However it is the groupings that make more impact at this time of year, the large dark hips of Rosa rubrifolium against a forest pansy and garrya ellipta whose tassels are just beginning to show in one corner, which will glow even more when the gingko starts to turn butter yellow as yet another contrast in this grouping. In the car park we have a lovely dark red leaves of Euonymous Europa with its lovely deep pink and orange berries, next to a Sanderson's gold cut leaf elder and Amelanchier Canadensis which are also starting to turn, views across the garden back to the house covered in red vines now, out across the valley which is still surprisingly green as we had just enough rainfall this summer. I am waiting for the crescendo of leaf colour change though – maybe next month, and them it all goes dormant (if we are lucky), although I have known lawn mowing through-out the year and no frost until January, other years we can get a sudden one that comes in and whacks the lot from now on, so it is a daily gamble to let things see how much more they can do, especially in the veg garden. All part of the adventure of gardening that makes it worth-while. And my bees of course!
Salvia uliginosa (or uglynosa as I like to call it)
Text and photographs by Sylvia Clare, who has been an HPS member for more than 10 years.