Last Vestiges

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I returned from China to a garden clinging valiantly on to the glories of summer. It was a heart-warming homecoming, but the gift was short-lived. Last week the weather cooled significantly, sending some plants into terminal decline. Dahlias are blooming their final blooms and my coleus are starting to look decidedly limp and lacklustre. I’ve brought indoors the bromeliads, papyrus and philodendrons, taken umpteen coleus and geranium cuttings and sheltered half the gingers and colocasias in the workshop. The remainder soldier on outside, alongside bananas and aeoniums, and will have to take their chances until I get to them.

As Christmas approaches I find myself more than usually stretched for time. Work is getting busy and taking me away from home for a couple of nights each week. I’m packing more than I can reasonably expect to achieve into my weekends; my lists are reaching epic proportions. It’s not a great sign when one wakes up on a Sunday feeling queasy at the prospect of the week ahead, but one can only do so much. After today’s Archers Omnibus I shall get myself back out to the workshop to empty and clean pots before refilling them with spring bulbs.

Fuchsia splendens
Hedychium ‘Pradhan’

Outside in the garden a handful of plants are still looking terrific. Fuchsia splendens always peaks in autumn and this year is no exception. The long, orange and apple-green trumpets greet me every day as I leave for work, illuminated by the floodlight by my front door. Salvias ‘Amistad’, ‘Black and Blue’ and ‘Hot Lips’ are going great guns, producing lots of flower with plenty more to come. Hedychium ‘Pradhan’ is attempting to bloom, although I suspect the cold has diminished the size and colour of its flowers. Nevertheless this Himalayan ginger has made a stately plant since I acquired it earlier this year.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Isabel’

I’ve had nerines flowering since late September. At this moment the stars are N. bowdenii and N. bowdenii ‘Isabel’, both excellent, reliable late-flowering bulbs for the garden. The lilies I planted in mid-July are still producing bloom, especially L. ‘Lionheart’. Next year I will plant a lot more in midsummer. In the greenhouse the borders are flooded with Plentranthus zuluensis, producing plenty of lilac-blue bottle-brush flower spikes. Rising above them is a ‘rescue’ Brugmansia, purchased in late September, which has been flowering non-stop ever since. Although the perfume is muted by cooler air, it’s still discernibly there.

The pressure is now on to get my bulbs planted. I have hundreds, still in their bags and boxes, which I am eager to get planted as soon as possible. In reality the process will continue well into December, and perhaps even into January. I have learnt from experience that this doesn’t have any adverse impact, except perhaps to delay flowering by a week or two: ultimately the weather is the greater decider. Today is a lovely day, the garden flooded with soft November sunlight, perfect for enjoying the last vestiges of autumn and providing no further excuses for inaction. TFG.

Dahlia ‘Magenta Star’

Categories: Bulbs, Coleus, Dahlias, Flowers, Foliage, gingers, Our Coastal Garden, Small Gardens, Weather

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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19 comments On "Last Vestiges"

  1. You and me both Dan – this very morning just started the bulb planting. I am always surprised to find out what has arrived and did I REALLY think they were a good idea?! Why do I always get so carried away when ordering – especially tulips. By the way, glad to have you back. Mrs. P.

    1. You are I are very alike Mrs P. I am looking at the packets trying to recall where I thought I was going to plant each variety. The good thing about pots is that I can move them if I don’t like where they ‘land’. Happy planting. I reckon I’ve planted about a third of my haul now. Dan

  2. I am always amazed a how your garden is so packed. It sure doesn’t look like you have removed anything. It still looks fabulous.

  3. Love your jungle Dan. Not a day here to do any gardening whatsoever! But no frost either. Is your greenhouse heated at all? Good luck with the bulb planting!

  4. For the beginning of November (or end of October) those pictures actually look rather impressive, and better than what we have going in our famously mild climate. Rather than trying too prolong summer, we welcome autumn, just because we do not get much of it here.

  5. Lots of gorgeous flowers for me to look at. I am currently a bit limited to getting around the garden so have to gaze out at my frost-wrecked dahlias. Luckily my lovely brother and Mr TT got the essentials in to the greenhouse before the very hard frosts we had at the beginning of last week.
    As for my bulb haul, I am going to tackle them pot by pot as my foot allows. What a time to end up on crutches!

    1. Indeed. Very sorry to hear you are incapacitated. I bet you find it unbearable!! I would be beyond frustrated if I were you, and probably very grumpy. I am sure you have more decorum.

      With regard to bulbs, I think you can only do a few at a time before it gets boring. I make sure I have all the daffs in and then I can take my time over the tulips. They are fine planted even in January.

      Meanwhile I am pleased to hear that you are letting Mr TT take the strain while you get better. Dan

  6. To be gone for so long and come back as you did makes you quite fortunate indeed. At least you didn’t come home to a “plant cemetery” as I have many times. After all it’s November. BTW coleus always responds best to cuttings and not unruly woody plants.

    1. Yes, I’ve taken lots and lots of cuttings. Just of my favourites. Next year I shall do an order for new varieties and do it much earlier than I did last year. It’s going to be a coleus cornucopia!

  7. Hi Dan, I know I’m a bit late to this post (as usual), but would you still let me know what the stunning plant in the first pic of this post is? Looks a bit like a Salvia but not sure – for some reason “Clerodendron” also springs to my mind though I couldn’t tell why and it probably isn’t. Guess it is the same plant as in the pic from inside the greenhouse? Thank you!

    1. Certainly! It’s Plectranthus zuluensis. Very easy to grow and simple from cuttings. Bits snap off and root like a dream. It’s best in decent light. It likes scrambling about on the greenhouse floor.

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