October is a funny month here in London, it goes from one extreme to another. We had 10 days of nice, warm weather well into 20 degrees C during the day and even if the evenings are colder and it gets darker sooner, it still felt like summer and often nicer than many days we had in August. And suddenly it all changed, the temperature fell to barely above 10 degrees and that bone chilling wind you get here in London set in and we skipped from summer to feeling like winter in just a few days. It is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day today, and it might be autumn, cold and windy and you might think that there can’t possibly be much to see in flower in a garden in London, but as usual I have lots to show you.
My garden is getting more and more enclosed, walking through it you get a feeling of being in a greenhouse with all the tall structures all around and there are plants stretching out onto the path everywhere.
The tallest plants have needed a lot of support in the bad weather we have had lately and last week I had to go out in pouring rain and gale force wind and tie my magnolia tree to the fence, as it kept blowing over and threatening to ruin the plants around it.
Here is a photo from the steps at my backdoor and the passage down from my bathroom extension. I don’t usually show this angle, but to see the tall tree in my garden I have to do it this way. The cedar tree has now drizzled a fine layer of dried needles all over my garden, on top of the bark and on the gravel path – this happens every autumn and is a nuisance as I have to remove it by hand.
Here is the same passage from the opposite angle, my nursery shelves are full with plants and cuttings, despite planting out a lot over the summer.
Some of my cuttings even have to stay on my path as there is no room for them on the shelves. This is hopefully going to be geraniums, fuchsias and two types of oriental poppies for next summer.
My seating area has no cushions or mattresses anymore, they are all parked indoors for the time being as the rain is never far way. Do you see the new blue pots on my shelf? Aren’t they cute?
I just bought them and have planted Anemone blanda and two types of Iris reticularis in them. Here on this wall they will probably come up very early next year.
My new white bed is almost finished, just waiting for one more plant I have ordered.
The white Anemone japonica is still flowering like mad, I try to snip away spent flowers when I see them and hope it will continue to flower until we get frost, whenever that will be, could be any time between November and February – or never, we have had winters without frost at all here in London these last 14 years I have been here.
The new white bed from the opposite side, the big pot in the bottom right corner is a 10 year old Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold' I dug up a couple of weeks ago to make room for a new purchase, it had become very woody and leggy and wasn’t really looking that nice anymore. I just pruned off 2/3 of it and stuck it in a big pot and hope to grow it there for a few years.
The shock of being pulled up at that ripe old age made it drop all its leaves but look what’s happening here, by losing all its leaves the Chaenomeles thinks that it’s winter and time to start producing flowers! By the time we get to GBBD in November the Chaenomeles should be covered in flowers :-)
Turning around from the white bed and looking down, my dahlias are the star of the garden. I thought I had lost them all for this year when the red spider mites where ravaging through the garden in June and July, but look at them now! These red ones were the least affected by spider mites and I only had to pull off leaves here and there.
The rest of my dahlias however were completely destroyed and I had no option but to cut them down to the ground. Look at them now, back in flower again!
Dahlia ‘Sunshine’ has been flowering for the last 2 weeks and although not as tall and bushy as normally, I am just happy that the 3 plants actually managed to grow back and flower again.
Dahlia 'Striped Vulcan' is a bit behind, lots of buds but it is a very tall dahlia so I do wonder if there will be time enough to get any of these in full flower. If we can get back some of that nice warm weather it could be possible!
But the star of my dahlia bed is obviously Dahlia 'Mary Eveline', a much taller dahlia than I anticipated, this is the first year I have them and next year I will stake them better, and much earlier than I did this year (and hope for a year with less spider mites!)
Moving a bit further down to the bottom left corner of my garden, the Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Robusta' has had a good summer too, as it has produced berries again. It doesn’t do this every year, only when we have warm summers with lots of sunshine. Every time I get berries I hope for some saplings so I can grow myself a Bonsai tree from one of them, but that hasn’t happened yet. This year I am going to try pick off some of the berries and put them in a pot and see if that’s more successful than leaving it to nature. By the way, the longest-lived tree in Britain is a Taxus baccata (yew) growing at Fortingall in Perthshire, it is reckoned to be about 5000 years old. Yes, that is the correct amount of zeros, five thousand years old.
Here is my Taxus, next spring I have had it for 10 years and it came in a tiny 0.5 litre pot about 8” tall. Funny to think this tree can still be here in thousands of years if no one cuts it down. This particular taxus has a very neat growing habit and should look more like a cypress, slim and compact and grow to perhaps 5m in 50 years, barely above the wall behind it.
I have written about my passionflower in previous posts here, this time I have put together a few photos starting from last October and ending last Saturday, showing how this little sucker I dug up from a friend’s garden has ended up. It still has lots of flowers and buds and as long as there is no frost it will continue to flower.
Here is a new plant in my garden, Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'. I got it in the spring and it has had a bit of a sad upbringing so far. The foxes around here decided that the new gap in my border was an excellent place to use for jumping in and out of my garden on their way to wherever they go, the poor Pinky Winky has had so many heavy paws landing on it that most of the branches has broken off. During the summer Pinky Winky has dutifully grown new branches with new buds, which the foxes have managed to break just as quickly. This single branch was the only one surviving, and I have tucked it away with a screen and a pot in front of it the last month to save it as I so wanted to see the flower! This particular hydrangea gets white flowers, which then turn pink, as you can see in this photo, the process is halfway there. I already have plans for what to do next year to save this hydrangea from the foxes, I am giving the foxes a plant-free pathway where they can walk and jump – hope they get the message and leave this beauty alone!
It is fuchsia time in my garden, some of my fuchsias are only now getting in full flower. This is 'Sir Matt Busby'.
This enormous basket with fuchsias was actually hanging by my front door, but it fell down in the spring, the whole bracket came crashing down one day by the sheer weight. I have bought a new, much bigger hanging basket bracket but haven’t got around to get it up so the basket is still standing here on the ground. It has lots of buds and will flower until frost.
This is Fuchsia 'Annabel', one of my so-called annual fuchsias, mine is at least 6 years old and lives happily in this bed without being lifted. The strong winds took nearly all the open flowers and left just the buds, but there are more buds to come until we get frost.
This is Fuchsia 'Bella Rosella', one of the smallest of my fuchsias with the largest flowers.
And in my front garden I have Fuchsia 'Velvet Crush', with deep purple flowers.
Some of the flowers are more burgundy.
All these flowers are from the same fuchsia plant. I have taken cuttings of it and hope to make some for next year if these don’t survive the winter in my window boxes.
Back in the garden, the roses and sunflowers keep getting more and more entwined, it is difficult to deadhead the roses and almost impossible to reach up to the sunflowers!
I had to stand on my stool and lift the camera up in the air to take this picture. This is the sunflower 'Vanilla Ice' that was meant to grow to 5' tall....
The sunflowers have lots more buds, hopefully it will go on for another month or so.
And in between the sunflowers, the yellow and red roses are still putting on a good show.
Crimson cascade is one of my favourite roses and will flower until February when I cut it down.
This is a rose without a name, wrongly labelled by the nursery so I have no idea what it is, but it flowers continuously with at least two or three roses until February.
The rose Freedom is probably the best flower in my garden, it takes a short break now and then but also continues until February when I cut it down.
This is 'Rob Roy', a bit more sparse in flowering but very showy when it flowers.
And my cream pot rose is one of the first to flower and is never without flowers until I cut it down again. It’s only my 3 David Austin roses that have stopped flowering for now, although there are signs of new buds to come so I haven’t given them up for this year yet.
Here is another persistent flowering plant, Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal', I got it last autumn and I have been so pleasantly surprised by having flowers non-stop since early June so I have ordered another Dicentra Formosa, a white one for my white bed. Hopefully it will be flowering just as prolifically.
The Skimmias have put on buds already and will stay with these dark pink buds until they open in April/May next year. I think the buds actually look nicer than the flowers and my three Skimmias have pride of place in my garden.
I have lots of cyclamens in my garden and they are beginning to come up, none of them are in flower yet, the closest I could find was these two tiny buds. By next GBBD there will probably be lots of flowers on them.
My Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' has grown to an enormous size over the summer, I keep snipping away on the margins to keep it from smothering plants next to it, fortunately it is easy to keep in place as I have bark around it and the suckers don’t attach to the bark.
Every GBBD post I have written since last September I have had photos of my Primula vulgaris in flower, I thought I would skip that today, just say that yes, they are all still in flower! This little beauty, Primula acaulis ‘Zebra Blue’ is back in flower and I would have liked to have lots more Primula acaulis but I was too late to order them this year, they have to be ordered in June so have to remember that next year.
My last photo is of an enormous chrysanthemum I had hoped to be in flower for today, but the cold weather the last week slowed down everything and it just didn’t get enough sun and warmth to open up for today. I got this chrysanthemum for my birthday last year, and it was in a small pot, just the right size for one you put indoors on a window sill. Most people probably chuck these after they have finished flowering but I gave it a huge pot this spring and some slow-release fertiliser and the result is this almost 2’ tall plant. It would have been nice if it had flowered again for my birthday last Wednesday but it won’t be many days until it will be in full flower.
These photos were taken last Saturday and yesterday, between showers and heavy downpour, with me going from window to window waiting for the rain to ease off enough so I could get out again to take some more photos. I didn’t get any photos of the 2 clematis in flower and there are lots more fuchsias and I forgot to take a photo of the Penstemon 'Strawberries and Cream' which also is flowering still, but by the time I remembered it was pouring down again. But I think you can see from my photos that October in my garden is certainly no way a quiet time, there are lots of flowers and lots to see!
If you visit Carol’s blog at May Dreams Gardens you can see what else is flowering around the world right now. Until next time, take care.