Japanese Anemone Wild Swan
Well, it has to be some kind of magic, foxgloves in November. And not just one aberrant stem, but several all set to bloom. And this after last week’s several frosty days. But what a treat to find it flowering outside the back door – its blushed peachy shades looking far too delicate for this autumn outing.
There are other treasures too. In the raised bed at the top of the garden there are delicate cascades of Aster Lady in Black. I bought it at the end of last summer, and it has just now come into its own. It doesn’t grow too large, but has dark stems and feathery leaves and a slightly unruly habit, and while the individual flowers are tiny, the overall effect is perfect for brightening a late season border.
And then there are still some crimson snapdragons and coral hesperantha:
Our October began bathed in the rosy glow of ancestral landscapes, the farm fields and vistas of four generations of maternal grandfathers, the millstone grit uplands of Derbyshire’s High Peak District. It would have been a hard life on Callow Farm, and especially for the grandmothers who would have managed a never ending round home and farm duties while rearing six or even eight children (the parish records suggest that many more Foxes survived into adulthood than were lost in infancy, but then yeoman farming folk would have been well nourished and well aired by comparison with most town dwellers down the centuries).
By the time we returned home, summer was definitely on the wane in our Shropshire garden although many flowers were still holding their own. Even now, the front garden beside the road is bright with helianthus, sedum, Michaelmas daisies, purple toadflax, small pink roses and the stalwart geranium, Rozanne. And out back in the guerrilla garden there are sunflowers and dyer’s chamomile with its bright yellow daisies. There are also Japanese anemones, hesperantha, zinnias, snapdragons and the shrubby convolvulus still on the go. So kind of the garden to ease us so gently into autumn.
Meanwhile, around the town and farm fields the change of season is more apparent:
And finally a glimpse of the priory ruins and the little tower on the Prior’s House:
Moats were once quite a feature of English manor houses in the late Middle Ages, though more to demonstrate affluence than as a defence against marauders. In case you missed the story and photos of our recent visit to this ancient lovely farmhouse, follow the links below.
To my eye this looks like one inebriated bee, O.D-ed on pollen and caught here, flat-out among the rhododendrons at Rosemoor.
It was a year last May and we were on our way back to Shropshire from Cornwall after a very special event, the christening of Graham’s god daughter, and we decided the route home must include a deviation through Great Torrington in Devon, and thus a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Rosemoor. It is a magical place, both of itself and its setting in the River Torridge valley, and you probably need to spend a whole day there to do it justice; or better still, stay several days in Rosemoor House and so see the gardens out of hours. Here are a few of the RHS website highlights – not one garden but several gardens.
And here are some of my highlights, pink and otherwise, though we weren’t too lucky with the light. Click on any image to view as a slide show:
Back in May I posted photos of the allotment quince tree in its final flowering and pondered on the fruit to come, the delicate scent of it when ripe and ready for the making of quince jelly and quince ‘cheese’ – the dulce de membrillo of Spain’s Iberian peninsula that is eaten with Manchego cheese. I have never made either, but this year may well be the year, that’s if I speak nicely to Phoebe, Ian and Siegfried who have taken over the care of the allotment’s small orchard where the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) is growing.
The other day I noticed that the tree is now fruiting magnificently, doubtless a response to our heatwave, its native lands being a good deal warmer than the UK – i.e. Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. Although, according to what I have read, it is an amenable plant and will do well in cooler climates. It is drought tolerant too, so another candidate for nurturing here in the UK with our increasingly hot and rainless summers. I think I would grow it for the beauty of its blossom alone. The fruit is a bonus, even if one only wants to look at it. But no picking it yet, no matter how fat and golden it looks. That pleasure must wait till autumn’s end, after the first frosts.
…was that out in the garden the air was filled with the dreamy scent of cyclamen. They were growing everywhere including under a medlar tree whose unpromising looking fruit is only ready to eat in winter, after it has ‘bletted’ i.e. the flesh softened by frost. Then, so I read, it tastes like apple sauce and can be eaten raw, or else made into a fruit jelly. The tree was introduced to England by the Romans.
Nor inside the house did I show you the ornately carved Tudor bedstead in the master and mistresses’ bedroom off the gallery above the great hall. Or down below, the huge fireplace where once, in medieval times all the main cooking would be done. The spit-roasting tackle is on the floor beside the cast iron grate.
Then there was the impressive timbering upstairs in the must-have gatehouse for the family going up in the world. Also in the doorway there was a nice sample panel of wattle and daub, the construction method of choice in medieval England. And then there’s the door itself – very much the thing to keep out unwanted callers with its faux portcullis lattice work:
Back in the garden there was the swing to linger on, and across the moat the ruins of a thirteenth century Norman chapel. In the orchard the damson trees were hanging in fruit. I’m guessing these might have been sold as much for dyeing as for eating, since this is what they were used for in my part of Shropshire during the nineteenth century, and therefore probably earlier too. The apples in the orchard would have been turned into cider, Herefordshire’s traditional tipple.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
See previous post for more of the manor’s history.
Today over at Becky’s it’s all pink wigs and tutus.
I’ve not taken you to the allotment lately. It’s been hard work all summer doing the watering, protecting crops from scorching and defending the brassicas from butterfly onslaught. But just look what cropped up this week. (And yes we have eaten it).
You have to watch cauliflowers. They can sneak up on you. One moment nothing but a bunch of leaves, the next a big head enough for two. If you miss the moment of readiness, they can soon be spoiled by grazing earwigs – the rotters.
With this year’s prolonged drought there have been a few losses and some so-so results. The broad beans and peas struggled fitfully. The runner bean seeds did not want to germinate. The strawberries started off well, then fainted. Some of the greens went grey with white fly and other nasties. The sweet peas went to seed as soon they flowered, then were attacked by aphids and had to be chopped. The French beans, though plentiful, were unusually stringy right from the get-go. And the runner beans are only now appearing at a manageable rate, this with the drop in temperature.
The courgettes, on the other hand, simply galloped away and are still producing. This I do not understand as they like to be watered well, and I have not watered them well, though they did have plenty of compost to grow in. We’ve also had good raspberries, beetroot, carrots, onions, a few squashes, and Swiss Chard which has grown itself. The borlotti and butter beans and leeks look to be doing pretty well, and we’ve had tomatoes and mini cucumbers from the polytunnel. The star success is the sweet corn, both the crop from the seedlings I bought in, and the Lark variety I grew myself. Round of applause for the Lark please even if it isn’t pink…
And we have asters, which are amazingly pink. I used to think I did not like them, but after last year’s gift from fellow allotmenteer, Siegfried, when he appeared on my plot with armfuls of them, I have been quite won over and decided to grow them too. Some of them come with their own crab spiders.
I love the way these Blue Lace Flowers have leaned in among the plumes of Hydrangea paniculata. It was not planned. In fact I did not know what to expect of the seedlings grown from the free packet of seed that came with a gardening magazine back in March. The water colour image on the packet verged on the surreaI and I was certain I had never seen anything like it in real life.
Didiscus caerulea also known as Trachymene coerulea was apparently introduced to Britain from Western Australia in 1828 so I can’t excuse my ignorance of its existence by thinking it a ‘new’ plant. Anyway, it is well worth growing – a half hardy annual, delicately scented, good for cutting, long flowering and around two feet tall. The leaves turn a lovely shade of tangerine as they age.
An all round good-looker then, and although dead-heading encourages new flowers, I haven’t persuaded myself to do it so far. When the petals fall the flower turns into a star burst, which then curls up into a little fist of seeds. I’m wondering if it will sow itself, though imagine the seeds would not survive an English winter. But I might try collecting some and drying them for next spring’s sowing.
That the flowers also attract hoverflies is of course an added bonus.