fire and frost

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

The glory of September has slipped quietly in the autumnal promise of October, leaving behind the memories of warmth and summer flowers. Last week we enjoyed lunch in the garden in T-shirts and this week it’s time to zip up the fleece. In the cutting border the dahlias are still blazing away although there is an end in sight to the flower buds. The red and orange-flowered Bishop varieties I have grown have been splendid, but next year I want to add to the mix. I like the dark leaved ones very much. Does anyone have any recommendations they grow ,  that I could try next year?


Collage of plants on a frosty, misty morning

Elsewhere in the garden the predominant colour remains purple. It looks good but I’m looking forward to some leaf tints developing to enliven the scheme. Yesterday there was a touch of frost on the grass first thing-not enough to knock the dahlias out- but a sign of things to come. Some of the deciduous azaleas are colouring up nicely , as is a hydrangea I bought as Bluebird, but which has come out pink. I’m not sure if it is the acidity of the soil or the accuracy of the labelling that has caused this.

The beautiful seed head silhouettes of tall perennials I didn’t cut down in the summer-delphiniums, opium poppies and eryngium in particular are becoming very noticeable. The poppies are proving popular with little birds. Small holes have been pecked in the sides of the capsules and the seeds removed. Clever little birds; bluetits, I think. To my eye, the poppies are even better in naked silhouette than they were in flower although they are messy as the leaves die back. They stand up very well without needing support, even to strong winds.


Opium poppy seed heads


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We have been visiting the RHS garden, Rosemoor, regularly for the last 20 years. Ever since it first opened to the public in 1990, in fact, and  it has been a pleasure watching it grow towards maturity. The garden was gifted to the RHS by Lady Anne Palmer and part of the gift included a beautiful house and the garden Lady Anne had already established  containing more than 4000 plants, many collected by her. The new formal garden has been created in what was pastureland, on a slope, in an area of heavy rain, on heavy clay and bisected by the A3124.

The site, whilst suffering from the clay and the rain and incidentally, also being in a frost pocket, has a beautiful setting in a wooded valley. And I think it is a triumph over the difficulties of the site. I know there has been a decent budget here, but the designers and plantsmen have created a garden that is for all seasons and if you haven’t visited-I recommend adding it to your must do list for next year. Careful placement of the plants in the landscape and in the hard  landscaping has resulted in some stunning combinations, at whatever season you visit. Three cheers for designers and gardeners who created and maintain this place.

I want to mention  that this is a post also inspired by Emma’s plea for pictures of colour, made on her blog here. These are part of my contribution for November-possibly my least favourite month.