greentapestry : November 2021

Saturday 27 November 2021

November Thoughts

"November provides us with a breathing point. Colour is going, if not gone, and branches are newly naked, revealing the bones of things. Scarlet hips are left starkly alone in the hedgerows, and the floor is littered with the fruit of a growing season. Birds are moving seed about, windfalls pecked to little more than skins. We may well have had the first frost by now; if not, it is sure to hit by the end of the month. With it the dahlias are suddenly blackened, to leave behind just a trace of their autumn bulk. The brick-red schizostylis and lipstick-pink nerine continue to flare for a while, yet in stark and diminishing contrast to the decline around them. There are a few other flowers out - perhaps a rose or two looking out of placeand left behind - so they are doubly welcome.

We are surrounded by rot and decay, but it is not a death to be disturbed by but rather celebrated as the cusp of this annual cycle. It's an appropriate time to pause for thought, and, with it, the potential for new planting. 

I wait until the garden starts to feel on the wrong side of neglect, before imposing any order, and even then I favour a less-is-more approach. Sweeping the mouldering leaves from the lawn or terrace imposes a little order on the chaos and allows you to stand back for a while to assess the departure of the growing season, but the pause is brief: there are tulips to put in the ground, plants that need their winter protection , and the season for planting bare-root trees and shrubs opens up again as nurseries start lifting them before the ground freezes. Use the time well to plant before the year is out and new plantings will be settled in before the worst of the winter arrives."

- an extract from 'Natural Selection' by Dan Pearson

- illustration by Eugene Grasset.  

Sunday 14 November 2021

November Notes - Garden Diary

Time to catch up with my somewhat neglected virtual garden diary. It has been a really beautiful weekend here. Calm, blue skies and sunshine throughout. It has also been a most pleasant temperature - yesterday was so mild that I was able to potter about in the garden wearing a t-shirt rather a warm fleece which is my normal November gardening attire. We have still to experience our first hard frost although there was a slight trace of white on our neighbour's roof one morning last week. It soon evaporated though. My priority this weekend was filling the green waste bin which will be wheeled up our lane on Monday ready for the last collection of the year so of course I just had to cram in as much as possible. The service resumes in the third week of February and by then the bin will no doubt be full to the brim again. Earlier this week the monthly speaker at my local u3a gave a talk on the subject of waste disposal which after a dry start turned out to be more interesting than I had anticipated. It was fascinating to find out out what happens to the contents of each bin once it is emptied.

There was time though after the hard work for exploration. The most exciting discovery was to see some seedlings of arum mamoratum italicum poking through the ground. I wasn't sure what they were at first until I saw the distinctive black spotting on the leaves. Funnily enough I recently saw an episode of Carol Klein's great television series on autumnal gardening, in which she sowed fresh seeds of this striking foliage plant. The next day I collected the bright red berries from my plant to sow. Obviously nothing has happened as yet but was I most delighted to see these self-seeders. Funnily enough I had been talking to a friend about sowing these the seeds and she mentioned that she found them self-seeding in her garden but this is the first time I have had the pleasure. I will have to extract them sooner and later as they are in a place where they could easily be accidentally trodden on and somebody in this household does have rather large feet. 

On the subject of Carol Klein one excellent series has finished but a continuation of the programmes where she visits one garden over the course of a year has replaced it. This is on Channel 5 on Thursdays at 7.00 pm and well worth watching whenever you can.


In the same border another surprise was waiting for me - the not unexpected signs of snowdrop snouts poking through the ground. The first to reveal themselves this year are the early flowering 'Fieldgate Prelude' and 'Philippe Andre Meyer which I thought flowered later. Of course there is always the possibility that the squirrels might have been switching the labels for fun so I will just have to be patient and wait to see what happens. I have previously noted that my pots of special snowdrops had snouts coming through but these are the first to come through in the garden. 

Another bulb that is showing and is not far off from flowering is the diminutive and early flowering narcissus 'Cedric Morris'. The flower buds are very much in evidence but no sign of colour yet.

In other news the pile of bulbs to be planted is I'm glad to report slowly diminishing. The containers that were virtually emptied over the weekend and contents snipped for the green bin can now be planted with the tulips that have been patiently waiting in the shed. In the meantime I'm tempted to order one or two more packets of bulbs at half price and then of course it will soon be time to seriously start to study seed catalogues in earnest. First and foremost plans are afoot to sow some sweet peas next month - a first for me so the supplies need restocking. I wonder what everyone is else is up to in their gardens at the moment.

Monday 8 November 2021

IVOM - Pieces Of Eight

Today sees eight years of a weekly celebration of vases containing a myriad of wonderful flowers and foliage and other plant material along the way. Although I didn't join in posting with in 'A Vase On Monday' from the start I think that that my first vase came along the following spring. As with all other autumn or winter birthday celebrations there are perhaps not as many choices on offer. Today though Cathy invited us to pick perhaps some material that might be sometimes regarded as past its sell by date but is still every bit as beautiful in it's own right. I have to admit that my flowers are not dried as such but at this stage of the year they are certainly faded or air dried. In my vase today are :

  • Some lunaria annua or annual honesty seed heads - purple or white spring flowers, plain green, purple or variegated leaves followed by seed cases which resemble fabulous silvery shining paper moons. No doubt they creep into a good few households including mine every festive season.
  • Some seed heads of papaver 'Lauren's Grape' which flowers a delicious deep purple plum colour. I leave a few on every winter and am rewarded with seedlings the following year.
  • A couple of seed heads of daucus carrota. I noticed today that the stems are now a red colour. I'm sure that they were green in the summer. I must look more closely year. 
  • Some fading flowers of physocarpus, probably 'Diablo'.
  • Finally a sprig of panicum capillare 'Sparkling Fountain' which caught my attention when it floated past the window one windy afternoon last month. I braved the elements to rescue it and shook the remaining seeds into a bowl. Thinking that it might come in handy for something it has been sitting in the greenhouse ever since.

I paused for sometime when I had put everything into my vase convinced that something vital was missing before I realised that of course for once no water was required! 

Thanks as always dear Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for your dedication and love in keeping us gathering virtually on Mondays to share our weekly pickings. This habit has certainly widened my knowledge of plants as well as improving my powers of observation.  I do get fond of my Monday snippings and am sad when they exit to the compost heap or green bin but then I smile as there's never long to wait until another Monday comes along.