Hangers On

Reading time 6 minutes

One of the challenges when blogging on the subject of gardening is striking a balance between ‘doing’ and writing about ‘doing’. Usually this is a particular issue between April and October when everything is growing like topsy, but this year the ‘doing’ has rolled straight into November with no sign of abating. Like a truculent teenager, the garden steadfastly refuses to go to bed. Not only is it overflowing with vigorous plants, but the nights are drawing in, leaving me with less and less time to complete essential tasks. The seed catalogues that accompanied me around China are still unopened, their promise of summer delights undiscovered.

At the end of the season Fuchsia arborescens is 6ft tall
At the end of the season Fuchsia arborescens is 6ft tall

I was expecting today to be a complete wash-out, but the weather dithered between sunny and drizzly and never made up its mind entirely. Either way it was very warm, so much so that I ended up in t-shirt after a sweaty morning in a fleece. Having planned to do some filing (surely the easiest task in the world to abandon at the drop of a hat?) a sunny morning was perfect for piecing together my new greenhouse staging. On opening the boxes my heart sank – so many similar slivers of aluminium – but in the end I found it a strangely satisfying, if time-consuming task. Tomorrow I will move the staging into position and start the fun job of smothering it in plants. Each time I open the greenhouse door I can’t believe how much warmer it is inside than out.

The garden at Polegate Cottage, scarcely recognisable from when we took possession in June
The garden at Polegate Cottage is scarcely recognisable from when we took possession in June

Meanwhile some plants are enjoying their second or third wind. Streptocarpus saxorum has been the shining star I hoped it would be, revelling in the cooler temperatures and putting on a non-stop show of delicate mauve flowers. Never has the specimen grown indoors looked better than those planted outdoors.

Streptocarpus, outside, in November? Wonders will never cease!
Streptocarpus, outside, in November? Wonders will never cease!

I am a great believer in planting things a little later than the text books suggest, especially the seeds of tender perennials and climbers. The plants usually catch up with their older brothers and sisters and don’t burn themselves out so readily. We are still enjoying the flowers of Cobaea scandens (cup and saucer vine), Ipomoea lobata (Spanish flag) and Rodochiton atrosanguineus (purple bell vine) long after they should have run out of steam.

My purple bell vine still has plenty of energy
My purple bell vine still has plenty of energy

November is when nerines come into their own. Here in Broadstairs they grow like weeds – at least in everyones’ gardens apart from our own. How we’ve envied the narrow candy stripes and marshmallow-pink clumps sprouting from our neighbours’ front gardens. But now we’ve inherited our own clump and it has not let us down. The bulbs are almost completely proud of the ground and are throwing up spike after spike of deliciously incongruous flowers. They can be seen from the street. I feel we have finally arrived.

Nerine bowdenii stand guard at the garden gate
Nerines stand guard at the garden gate

The only clue that winter is approaching is the giant sand bank that’s constructed annually across Viking Bay to protect the beach huts from inundation by the sea. The defenses are not always effective but the kids love to run up one side and roll down the other. Tomorrow Him Indoors and I will be joining them, in t-shirts and wellies, just a few weeks before Christmas. Long may the fine weather and flowers continue.

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, prepared for everything The English Channel can throw at it this winter
Viking Bay, Broadstairs, prepared for everything The English Channel can throw at it this winter


Categories: Container gardening, Flowers, Foliage, Our Coastal Garden, Photography, Plants

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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33 comments On "Hangers On"

  1. Congratulations on the transformation at Polegate Cottage.
    It looks full of a plantsman’s selection.
    What is the striking red Salvia?
    And in front of the widow is one of the Roldana forms [so many of which used to all be lumped together as Senicio petasites]? Is it the fabled cristobalensis? Or the ‘red leafed form’ which Wisley had [and is, I think R.oaxacana]?


    1. Hey Chad! The salvia is Salvia curviflora given to me by my blogging friend Gill Heavens. And, you are right, the Senecio is cristobalensis. I put it inside today despite the forecast being for 21 degrees again tomorrow. Given there was nothing in the garden 5 months ago I am pretty chuffed with it.

    1. Yes, I can’t complain Judy. It’s been a crazy autumn: so warm. However we both know it can’t last. I think all gardeners cling on to positive signs, but we are always best to prepare for the worst 🙂

      1. I have taken the morning off work tomorrow to deal with the leaves and the devastation our fox has left in his wake. Plus I have hundreds of bulbs left to plant. It’s never ending at the moment!

  2. Wow, the progress is amazing!
    Have you had the Rhodochiton long? And do you leave it outside over winter? I’ve planted one in the ground here and don’t know whether I should be expecting it to survive the winter. Like you, we’re right by the coast, so hopefully will avoid too harsh a winter.

    1. Thanks. It’s the plants that have done all the hard work! I wouldn’t leave a Rhodochiton outside over winter. It’s best treated as an annual and I believe that frost will probably kill it. Maybe pop it in a pot and bring it inside?

  3. You’re right, Streptocarpus outside is a surprise! You are so lucky both of your gardens enjoy such sheltered spots. The wind has ripped through here today but at least taken care of much of the leaf clearing job!

    1. Shelter is wonderful, and I would not be without it, but with it comes an indecent number of pests and diseases which think they have found some kind of Nirvana. Unless we have a super-cold winter bugs don’t get killed off, so we start the following year with yet more lily beetles, vine weevils, thrips and snails, all of which seem equally destructive. Sometimes I yearn for a really hard winter to kill them all off, but then I think again pretty quickly!

  4. Great photos of your late blooming seaside garden but really liked the shot of the beach defences…I have never heard of this technique before! Enjoy your day beside the seaside tomorrow and good luck with the staging building…don’t forget to check whether it fits through the door though…I once had to build some inside the greenhouse as the door was too narrow!!

    1. Dear Anne. Thank you for your comment which was most timely and made me think again. I had completed most of the construction inside the house that will soon become part of our home, but thanks to you I measured up and decided to complete the task in situ, which was much easier. We live and learn!

  5. good to have you back in your garden. it is a real warm November over here in Berlin, too. My Fuchsia still refuse to stop blooming. Looks odd, with most of the leafs off the trees, some bloomers still stand their ground. However, today we have a storm, so I’ll have to find out the damage done. All I heard, was garden furniture tumbling about, so far…

    1. I hope you weathered the storm!? I think we are due some rougher weather this week in the UK, but still no temperatures in single figures. I would love to visit Berlin – it’s one place that constantly alludes me, which is a great shame.

      Meanwhile I love that some plants will just go on and on. This spring I had quite exotic fuchsias blooming outside in February, but the chances of that happening again are pretty slim.

  6. That’s a gratifying transformation. Lots of beautiful things and plenty of colour. That fuchsia looks like it should be popular with the bees. Great picture of the sand barrier too. I have one of my kids dismantling it a few years ago!

    1. Yes, it doesn’t look that impressive for long. The actions of children and the power of sea are similarly destructive!! We shall be doing our bit later 🙂 There is still the odd hardy bee and wasp around, which is good to see.

  7. Can’t believe the changes in 6 months with next door, Super effort on your part as it look fabulous. . So excited for you to be able to play Lego constructions with staging, as this will give you so many more planting options. More Aggies maybe!!!!

    And please can I put on my gumboots and come with you to climb and roll on those dunes. Have never seen anything quite like this as we deal with swollen rivers with sandbags…amazing.

    1. Ahh, you Aussies are so much more advanced 😉 That sand bank is 12ft high now, but by March it will have almost disappeared.

      The staging was more like Meccano than Lego, but I think I can put the second set together in half the time. I won’t be heating the greenhouse this winter, but if it survives the building project then I might invest in a heater for winter 2016. I am starting to feel very grown up (and ambitious) now that I have a proper greenhouse!

  8. Beautiful pics and lots of inspirations as always. we had a lovely am holiday near viking bay this year – looked at bit different back in the summer!

    1. Thanks Abby. That’s what I love about Broadstairs. In summer we look forward to the solitude of winter, but by early spring we feel ready for the hordes to return and liven things up again. Hope you can drop by next August when the garden is open for the NGS.

      1. I’d Love to try! We were fortunate enough to have loan of a flat in ramsgate this summer. We stayed in the area a week and I have I confess to being utterly hooked to round where u live.

  9. You have some stunning plants and a lovely garden. Love the bell vine – such wonderful colour.

  10. Gorgeous strep, and truly lovely nerines. I had a single lycoris radiata volunteer next to my step this year (don’t know where it was before now–we’ve been here 5 years), and I was so chuffed by the one-day-nothing-next-day-riot effect I went and dug in a bunch more. Can you grow crinums at all where you are?

    1. Just looked up Lycoris. What a stunning flower! If I were you I’d also be planting more. Yes, we can grow Crinums in milder parts of the country. They ought be fine in Broadstairs, apart from the snails …. don’t give me ideas!!

  11. Sorry, probably shouldn’t have said about the crinums, I just like it when other gardeners are complicit in my obsessions (makes it seem less mad, somehow🤓)…But some smell quite nice, and there’s nothing like an amaryllid for bullet-proof dependability, and dare I say, they’d look quite nice with your gingers…

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