…and get into Autumn

Yesterday was the first day that really felt properly autumnal so far.  At the weekend we had rain but that can come at any time.  It was slightly chilly first thing in the morning – so I wore my (thin) cardigan.  Over the weekend, I gave my garden another prune, including the bracts on most of the lavender plants.  This often makes me feel rather guilty – although most are done, there  were still a few that bees still seemed to be interested in.  However, the plant itself will need the bracts gone if it is to have enough light on the leaves over Autumn and Winter.  Plus, I had a couple that were still going strong so I left those alone.  It’s funny, fancy varieties of lavender often have a short season or only a few bracts but the cheap “standard” lavender goes and goes and has super long bracts.  I counted six bees on one – perhaps it’s because they have less to eat now.

The first leaves have fallen
The first leaves have fallen

I also gave the little bay bush in the rose garden a reasonably hard prune.  I’m never quite sure what to do with bay clippings – yes, they count as a herb but they are also quite woody.  In the end I bunged them in the compost bin with the clipped lavender bracts and some marjoram; my compost bin is completely full.

The leaves on the trees in the IoW haven’t started turning yet, although I think they have started in other parts of the UK.  At present, only my large acer’s leaves have started to change colour (in spring, they are a dark red).

One of my acers
One of my acers

Shaded garden

I absolutely love my shaded or “Japanese” garden.  Now that we are almost in summer, it is starting to look really pretty.  It also helps that I’ve done a bit more weeding.

"Japanese" garden
“Japanese” garden

It does get a bit of sunlight at midday so by the end of August, it’s really past its best; both the heucheras and the acers suffer from a bit of leaf scorch.  However, that is also when the dutch honeysuckle flowers.

My “Japanese” garden

I have a patch of garden that is more or less always in the shade (apart from noon in the middle of summer).  I wasn’t sure what to do with it but planted acers, heucheras, tiarella and heucherella.  I also planted a quince tree but it seems to have died, more or less.

"Japanese" garden
“Japanese” garden

I ended up planting a load of the violets here – they need some light in winter and spring but shade in summer.  As it is under a deciduous tree, this seems as good a place as any to plant them.

While I was working, a cheerful bumblebee buzzed round.  I think it liked the blossom.

One good thing about doing a bit of planting is it gives you a chance / reason to do some weeding.  I know this bed is quite weedy but I don’t like using chemicals in my garden and tend to leave weeds that I find attractive alone. My gardener once suggested that I put white gravel down to surpress the weeds but I know my children would chuck it about and it would drive me crackers.  Plus, having soil gives me a chance to sneak yet more plants in.

Blossom over the "Japanese" garden
Blossom over the “Japanese” garden

Autumn colours and next year’s seedlings

This afternoon, I watched Gardener’s World.  I love Gardener’s World but it always makes me feel guilty about the things I should be doing in the garden.  This week Monty Don cleaned his greenhouse with a stiff bristled brush and very dilute washing up liquid.  I don’t have a greenhouse but I do have a cold frame.  As I still have seedlings in there (due to be planted out next Spring), I made the executive decision to leave the cleaning of the cold frame until then.  I DID go out and water them though.

My cold frame
My cold frame

So far, I have tried growing lupins and foxgloves from seed.  My foxgloves are doing really well but the lupins look a bit crappy.  I’ve never seen lupins growing in the IoW so it may be that they just plain don’t like it here.  They DO grow in Newcastle, where I went to university, so it isn’t as though they don’t like cold drizzle.  If you manage to grow lupins and can see where I am going wrong, please could you let me know in the comments box?  Thanks!

Foxgloves on the right, crappy lupins on the left
Foxgloves on the right, crappy lupins on the left

I KNOW it is probably obvious but both foxgloves and lupins are really poisonous.  Wash your hands after touching either.

I also went and had a look at my lower garden – this is almost always in the shade, except for  in the height of summer, so I grow heucheras, tiarellas and acers.  I love their colours at this time of year.  Sorry, I know that my pictures aren’t brilliant – they were taken on my phone.  It’s much more impressive in person.

Lower garden
Lower garden

I know it’s full of weeds but I can’t face disturbing all the spiders.  I’m not afraid of them, I think spiders are awesome and don’t like upsetting them.  Next time I’m down, I’ll do some proper weeding.  My local garden centre is Honnor & Jeffrey, who have loads of great things, especially herbs and heathers.  If I want something really specific, I’ll often order from Crocus – they ARE expensive and I pay an extra tenner on top of the five pound delivery charge for IoW delivery but they have a great website and a lot of choice.

The heucheras, tiarellas and heucherellas (a cross between the first two), I order from Plantagogo, who are based somewhere up north.  I first met the owners at the RHS Autumn Show in 2014 and they were super helpful.  Their couriers do charge LOADS for delivery to the IoW though so I have them deliver to London and then drive the plants down in the car.

Beautiful heuchera
Beautiful heuchera