Saturday, 15 October 2016

Gently, gently into autumn – GBBD October 2016

Autumn has arrived in my garden, the nights are getting colder with 8-12 degrees C and the day temperatures are around 14-18 degrees C (46-53/57-64 F). My garden has had to mostly take care of itself the last 2 weeks as I have been battling a very persistent cold that just doesn’t want to go away. I have neglected my garden, my blog and just about everything else I should have done, but I have managed to pull myself outside to water a few times. My goodness I look forward to when it starts raining again!! Two weeks ago I treated all my plants to wine weevil nematodes as yes....I got vine weevils in many pots yet again. A bane of container gardening and with over 500 pots and containers it just seems to be unavoidable. I missed the spring treatment as that coincided with when I had my slipped disks in my back so it is a whole year since last treatment and probably my own fault for the return of the yucky grubs. Once the nematodes are applied, the pots have to be kept moist at all times for the next 3 weeks until the nematodes have done their deed, or they will die. The day after I watered in the nematodes I got the cold. Sods law. I hope the pots have had enough water, another week and I can tip out some of the pots and see if the grubs are dead or still alive. Each treatment cost about £25 so it’s of course vital to not have to repeat it more than necessary. I have joined a subscription scheme so I will be sent nematodes twice a year from now on, a good reminder to get it done once in early spring and once in the autumn. 

We have had some rain the last 2 weeks, more a tease than anything useful, but tomorrow we are promised sunshine and showers for most of the day. Well, I have seen forecasts like that many times before, it just doesn’t add up to much in the end, my soil is hard as concrete and I still can’t get a spade in to plant anything. Most of the plants you see here are in pots and have been watered, the trees are mature and coping fairly well.

The roses are in the ground and are green, but not flowering as much as they should at this time of year, I am putting it down to lack of water. The roses in the containers are doing much better as they are being watered. I have used the sprinkler a few times but would probably need to water the ground at least once a week to make a difference. I hope to get an automatic watering system down in the ground during the winter so this problem will be a thing of the past by next summer.

The Japanese Bed is taking on an autumnal feel, everything here is in containers except the impressive Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’.

I have made short process with the plumtree....at first I just shortened all the branches in an attempt to get better access around the tree, but that made everything worse. I kept getting stabbed and poked on lethal branches and finally I just chopped off all the branches, leaving the main structure in place. I will try to find a short climber that can climb up this tree stump, preferably one with Japanese origin. It would have been nice with lovely, fragrant flowers – a Japanese honeysuckle would have been ideal, but they grow way too tall for this 2m tall tree stump. Any suggestions from my readers? The plumtree is of course still alive so for all I know it could decide to produce masses of new branches the next 2 years and become a full size tree again. I might end up removing the whole thing and place a container with something tall growing there instead. At the moment the tallest feature is a South American immigrant to the Japanese Bed, my Fuchsia boliviana – which will be taller than the tree stump by next year so maybe it will get this place permanently.

I am eating fuchsia fruit every time I go out, and there are still lots more to come. They are not as sweet anymore, possibly because of the cooler weather and lack of sunshine, but a fun feature in the garden anyway. I am just amazed it is still flowering!

The Callicarpa dichotoma has become a lovely, arching bush, just the right size for my small garden. Next spring I will give it a bigger container as it keeps drying out too quickly. It will grow a bit bigger and wider, but not much more than this.

The berries are beautiful and with my plum coloured fence as a backdrop it makes a gorgeous feature here in the Japanese Bed. I was wondering if I would get any berries at all since many callicarpas require another bush for cross pollination, but I needed have worried – there must be hundreds and hundreds of those tiny berries.

Also in the Japanese Bed is Rhododendron 'Princess Anne' which is evergreen and flowers in the spring like all rhododendrons, but this particular rhododendron turns flaming red in the autumn without losing its leaves, and goes back to green again in the spring. Amazing!

The dry, hot summer we have had was not to my roses’ liking and ‘Ingrid Bergman’ is one of my roses that go on holiday during the summer heat. I am pleased to see she is back in full vigour.

One of my inherited roses, ‘Gaujard’ is also back flowering.

And ‘Rob Roy’, still living in a way too small container is flowering again.

This is one of my miniatures, ‘Abigaile’, a very lovely rose.

The pot roses have been flowering non-stop since last November when I got them, it’s very difficult to photograph this one as my camera does not like the bright magenta colour.

The soft-pink pot rose is easier to photograph, all in all I have 28 roses.

Most of the alstroemerias are still in flower too, this is Alstroemeria 'Inticancha Sunday'.

And this is Alstroemeria 'Princess Theresa'.

A quick look down the path along the shed, the cosmos I planted in the window baskets have grown to giant size, they must be well over 2.5 meter tall and they are only possible to deadhead because the stems are so flexible so I can bend them down to me to snip off the spent flowers. In the foreground to the left is one of my tomato plants still producing flowers and fruit. I am not sure how many tomatoes I will get from now on, but as long as the plant is still alive I will leave it growing.

The green tomatoes I took inside 2 weeks ago are ripening well, I have eaten some already and keep picking out as I need. I eat tomatoes every day and I will have my own tomatoes well into November - it will be strange when I have to start buying tomatoes again.

Let me share with you some of the extra work the wildlife in London is adding to my workload. This is what greeted me yesterday when I got out in the garden. This little bed next to the Woodland Bed is filled with arisaema amurense, primroses and Saxifraga stolonifera and a fox had in its wisdom decided to dig a hole in the middle of it. The hole is almost a foot deep although it was difficult to take a photo showing the whole depth of it. Under all that soil and bark are lots of buried plants and uprooted arisaema bulbs.

And in my nursery area I found 3 chewed plant labels....thanks to a squirrel I guess. If they don’t nick the labels they try to eat them! Somewhere in the neighbourhood there must be close to 100 of plant labels with my handwriting, taken out of the pots and out of the garden for what reason?? Beats me! It creates a headache for me when the labels are taken out of pots that are out of season as bulbs and plants are not visible so I have no idea what was in the pots. I have a good few pots around the garden with labels saying ‘What’s This?’ or ‘No Idea’ or ‘Check in the Summer’. 

I carefully cleared up the little bed, put the arisaema bulbs back in the ground and put some fresh bark on. Foxes usually come back to the same place to continue the job, over and over, night after night and it can end up almost a like a game seeing who gives up first. In the middle of the bed I placed a tall, heavy Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ I have growing in a large container. Let me see you dig here now Mrs Fox!

While we are here anyway, let me show you my tropical corner – not that we have tropical temperatures anymore, but the cannas are still flowering! This is the first year mine are flowering and I had no idea they would just go on and on like this.

Lobelia 'Compton Pink' is still flowering too, I absolutely love this lobelia, much more compact than its cousin Lobelia cardinalis.

Also here in the tropical corner is an outdoor Strelitzia reginae, it is a young plant and have yet to flower, but have lived all its life outdoors only having some trips into my shed when the temperatures have gone down towards freezing. And next to it is a newcomer to my garden that I have wanted for years – an abutilon!

I buy all my plants online and I carefully sourced this one as I wanted a red flowering abutilon to go with my colour scheme. I was rather disappointed when I received it as I would not call this red, more like dark orange. The nursery agreed with me and credited me for the few quid I paid for it on the end of season sale – but they didn’t want the plant back. I have placed it here together with Rosa ‘Compassion’ which is apricot-salmon coloured – not sure if they will look good together but the strelitzia has orange flowers so I hope all 3 will be a good combination. If not I might just give away the abutilon and try again to find a red one!

I got another new plant I have wanted for ages. It was my birthday last Sunday and I got some birthday money to spend on plants, one of them is a Brugmansia. OK, I know what you might think now. No greenhouse, no conservatory and living in London – growing Brugmansia? But I want to try! This impressive size plant was delivered a couple of days ago buy courier and I think I got a lot of plant for £20 – it even has 3 buds.

The flowers are absolutely huge and when fully open they will smell amazing in the evening. My brugmansia will be permanently growing in a container so I can move it to my shed when the temperature falls below 6-7 degrees, at the moment it is placed next to the wall so it gets some warmth from my living room and I have put other plants around it to shelter it. Once it is finished flowering I will take some cuttings and bring indoors just as a safety, but fingers crossed the main plant will survive. Does anyone else of my visitors from UK grow brugmansia outdoors?

Let’s take a quick tour of the front garden and out here, the cosmos are still in flower although I didn’t put as many plants in the window baskets so it doesn’t look as full as those by the shed. Something to have in mind for next year.

The little piece of grass is just as yellow as it was in August, but if you go really close there are signs of green coming up. Grass is tough, it recovers the most incredible drought – as opposed to flowering plants. I wonder how many hours I have spent holding the hose, watering my pots and containers this year....

Most of the pelargoniums are still flowering, ‘Rosebud’ is the most impressive as usual, and I have had to prune all of them as they were all so big that branches were breaking off.

I haven’t showed you my indoor plants for a long time, my collection has grown this year and it is not just outside there are pots everywhere – indoors I have plants in every room including the bathroom. I had a count today and I have 62 plants indoors, this is my bedroom.

And here is my living room collection.

This is an avocado plant I have grown from an avocado. I simply bought a normal avocado in the supermarket and ate the avocado first, then planted the stone inside and this is the plant I got :-) OK, so there is a bit more to it, the stone has to stay in water for a while until it has rooted, but it is easily done and if you want to do the same there are lots of info online how to do it. You won’t be able to get any fruit when growing it indoors, there isn’t enough light for that, but you will get a nice plant.

These are also plants, although they don’t look like it! They are called Living Stones – Lithops and they are succulents. They need no water at all between September and May and only a little water the rest of the year. They will grow a new ‘stone’ inside the crack every year and shed the old one, and if they get enough light they can flower every August. Aren’t they cute?!

I have a Strelitzia reginae indoors too, a bit more mature than the one outdoors, but it hasn’t flowered yet. Hopefully it will next year.

I have also bought a more unusual strelitiza – a Strelitzia Nicolai, and on the nursery website this one was advertised as a houseplant along with Strelitzia reginae. The unusual thing with this one is that instead of orange and blue flowers it has white and blue flowers. Oh, and one more unusual thing which the nursery website didn’t mention but I have discovered after I got it....it grows much bigger. MUCH BIGGER. Strelitzia Nicolai can be up to 6m tall. How can they call that a houseplant? I might have to find a company or organisation with an atrium or something similar and donate this plant when it has outgrown my bungalow living room, but I hope I will get to see it flower before then.

I have plants in my kitchen too – there are plants everywhere there is light enough....

The African violet on my kitchen table has been flowering non-stop since March.

Just a quick trip out in the garden before rounding up this post, the begonias have not been happy with the dry, hot summer, but they have finally started flowering. Begonia ‘Primadonna’ is not as big as she was last year but the flowers are just as impressive.

And finally, I am pleased to report that Mr Robin is back in the garden from wherever he has spent the summer. He is such a sociable bird and not scared at all. I am sorry for the poor quality photo, but it was hastily taken with my phone and after this bit of posing he decided to spend the rest of the day flying around me every time I lifted my phone. He wasn’t camera shy in the spring so I am sure I will get new opportunities :-)

That was the roundtrip of my garden, I have lots more in flower but I have just made a selection for you for today. Tomorrow I will try to reply to all the lovely comments I had to my previous post 2 weeks ago which I am afraid I still haven’t been able to give a response to. For now I will creep back to bed and nurse my cold.
Until next time, take care.


I am linking today’s post to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, please visit her for many more Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts from around the world.

36 comments:

  1. Thanks Helene for the tour, take care to get better quickly before it gets any colder. It's lovely to see all your plants.. and in pots too, what a lot of work and loving care. Nothing to report from my garden as yet, we've had a lot of rain and not much sunshine yet.

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    1. Thanks Ruth, I am feeling better – I hope you have summer now!

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  2. One would never know that you had neglected (so briefly) your garden. It's in amazing shape. I'm so sorry you've been feeling ill. I hope the worst of the cold is done! As always, I don't know where to start on my comments because everything is impressive. But what really caught my eye is the Fuchsia boliviana--what a fascinating bloomer! Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thanks Beth, this ended up a longer break than I thought it would, can’t believe I was away from the garden and the blog for almost 2 months – that’s a long time for me :-) At this time of year the garden was able to mainly take care of itself, even though I have had to water it a few times.
      I am glad you like the Fuchsia boliviana, I expect more from this one next year :-)

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  3. Your roses are spectacular, Helene! The tall cosmos made me laugh - I can't say I've seen this flower grow that tall here (ever!). Your fox sounds very much like my raccoons. They've been digging up my entire garden nightly for well over a week now, despite my making rounds with a flashlight in a vain effort to scare them off before I go to bed each night. I figure there must be an entire family at work as a single individual couldn't possibly cover so much ground.

    A belated happy birthday! I hope your cold clears up soon and the rain arrives to take over watering duties. We've still had no rain here and, although there's a 40% chance of very light rain late tonight, I'm not counting on it.

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    1. The cosmos I sowed from seed in March was a delightful surprise, I will do this again in the spring as it was a lot of flowers for very little effort. I don’t think I will put them in the window boxes on the shelf at the front though, they just became too tall to deadhead, but along the shed was fine – amazing they grew that tall in just window boxes!

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  4. There is always so much to see and watch in your garden, just amazing. I never had such a tall Cosmea and then to know this one is in a pot, I´m sure you spoiled the plants with fertilizers and they are grateful. When I saw your living stones inside I had to smile, a girlfriend of mine used to sow them and she was always so excited to see them grow amd show them to me, she had windowsills full of living stones. Actually, it is a long time ago and certainly at that time I did not see the beauty or excitement of living stones.
    Hope your cold has gone by now, here we have a beautiful sunny day today.

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    1. I have never had such tall cosmos either Janneke :-)
      Some of them were tall and some were just half of the height so this was down to different variety. I gave all the cosmos some general fertiliser (Q4) in June, but that was all they got. I am not very good at fertilising – it cost a lot of money and I tend to let my plants go without if I can get away with it!
      A whole windowsill full of Living Stones sounds wonderful, I would like to have more of them but I need to see that I can keep these alive for a couple of years first. They do actually require full direct sun for a few hours a day and my windowsill only have late evening sun so these stones might not be so happy long term here. But this is the best window I have so it’s here or not at all.

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  5. Happy belated birthday, dear Helene! I wish you getting better and taking care because temps are dropping especially at the evenings. I liked your garden view although you say you had neglected it. It needs more water but the forecast promises more rains so I hope it will be real rains as we have here :)
    Lovely miniature rose ‘Abigaile’, and your indoors violets. I have some this season as well and they amaze me blooming during months. As your cosmos - it's so tall one!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, we still haven’t had much rain and usually we would be in the middle of our rainy period but it hasn’t started yet for us in the South East. Hopefully we will get rain soon or I will have to keep watering through the winter. Abigaile is an absolutely lovely miniature rose!

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  6. Are you still intending to plant some of your potted plants into the garden or will you keep the rest in pots now?
    We have a rhododendron in the garden that has decided to produce some flowers now very strange!

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    1. I intend to plant as many plants in the ground as I can, and just keep the large containers going long term – they are easier to keep watered in the summer than the smaller pots. It is a huge project though as the window for digging in my garden is so short – it is still difficult to get a spade in as we haven’t had much rain yet and get past May and it is too late as the ground will have hardened up again. I am learning to garden on clay – a new thing for me!

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  7. Hope you are feeling better soon Helene and happy belated birthday! Your garden does not look in the least bit neglected, but continues to "wow" me every time I see it. With so many planters and blooms everywhere, I find it amazing how well-tended you keep it looking all the time...always something to look forward to and always beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Lee, I am trying to catch up with both gardening and blogging and there is a new post out today, right on time for Christmas.

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  8. Your garden looks wonderful! I really like how the ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ looks limbed up like that, and that Fuchsia boliviana, goes on my wishlist. :)

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    1. Happy to have been an inspiration :-) Fuchsia boliviana is a lovely plant, a bit slow to take off if you buy a cutting like I did, but so worth it.

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  9. I enjoyed the tour of your garden, outside and inside. Your Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ is amazing. And I am fascinated by your 'Living Stones.' They look like little brains to me! I had to laugh at the squirrels stealing your plant labels. Some critter actually chewed an antenna off of a large clay snail that sits by a path in my garden. The antenna is over an inch long, and I can't imagine that something would eat it, but I have never found it. So now my snail has only one antenna.

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    1. I love the Salix integra too – although I struggle a bit with how to prune it correctly. I didn’t get it right this year so next year I will attempt a different approach. The Living Stones are thriving and well, I have now had them for 3 months and they have grown since they arrived – without a drop of water. The squirrels make my life difficult and add to my workload considerably in the garden – I wish they would go somewhere else!

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  10. Amazing! You have so various plants there. I really love it. thank you for sharing the beauties.

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    1. Thanks Endah, I love growing a variety of plants.

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  11. Hej Helene!
    Fantastisk blomning i din trädgård, här finns inte mycket som blommar längre. Din Callicarpa dichotoma är så fin, mot den vackra färgen på planket. Hoppas räven ger upp och slutar gräva i trädgården.
    Ha det fint / Marika

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    1. Hei Maribel, jeg er tilbake her på bloggen, i hvert fall for en stund, prøver å skrive litt og svare på kommentarer og er helt utrolig hvor fort tiden har gått, er over 2 måneder siden jeg skrev her. Flott du likte min callicarpa, det er en nydelig liten busk – hardy ned til USDA zone 5 så kanskje du kan ha den i hagen din?

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  12. I am still trying to shake off the cold I got a month ago.. this year's strain takes some shifting! I sunk a strelitzia, in a pot, into the border this year and it does seem to have benefited from being outside. As soon as frosts threaten I'll lift the pot and put it in the greenhouse. But oh your poor, saxifraga.. at least you know they'll soon spread back. I hope you've defeated the fox!

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    1. That cold has been very persistent with me, I am still coughing! Not as bad as I was, but my GP had to give me an inhaler some weeks ago to see if that could help – but I am still coughing. X-ray was fine so it’s just a post-virus cough. Blasted viruses! Hope you have recovered from yours :-)

      My strelitzia is still outside, it can tolerate quite a lot and seems to be fine with our minus 1 or so…it rarely gets any colder. But I can always put it in the shed should it go lower one night. The saxifrage will recover, but from what you have read in posts since this one, the fox is here to stay I think. Mind you, I haven’t seen her for a while so maybe she has had her cubs? Behind my shed?! They don’t come out for the first 8 weeks so it will be a long wait to see :-)

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  13. Your garden looks fantastic despite the drought. You've so many wonderful plants but your Fuchsia boliviana really caught my eye; it's a stunning thing. I hope your nasty cold goes away soon!

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    1. Thanks, the Fuchsia boliviana is rather unusual over here and I think it is fun to grow something not everyone has in their garden :-)

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  14. As ever a credit to you Helene.
    The plum is not really a loss to you when you have so much better things to grow.
    You could try Summer pruning your plum if it does grow again as it undoubtedly will. Summer pruning reduces the vigour

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    1. Thanks Roger, I am finally getting around to reply to some of the previous comments – and hopefully I will manage to take a trip around and visit all of your blogs soon too!
      I haven’t really decided what to do with the plumtree yet, I might just let it grow some short branches and then keep pruning them so they don’t grow too long and tall – not sure if that will be possible but it’s worth a trial. Failing that I might just snip off any growth every 6 months and use it as a climbing frame for something else :-)

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  15. Dear Helene,
    Pruning back the plumtree must have been awkward but I think it has been worth the effort.The Japanese Bed looks much better without that messy tree which didn't make any sense.I love the colour of your fence.It brightens up the atmoshere in the Bed, making it more interesting.Happy gardening!

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    1. Thanks, the colour of the fence was a result of a long and hard decision process – I wanted something dark that wasn’t brown, and there weren’t that many colours to choose from. But I just love my plum fence and all colours look good next to it – even red, pink and orange 

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  16. I hope you are feeling better soon, Helene! Your garden looks amazing as always and seems to have fared very well in spite of your not being able to tend it as you want. So much to comment on, but I can't get over that tall cosmos--wow! And your indoor collection is impressive; I don't know how you keep up with all of them. Good luck with the nematode treatment; I hope it works. As for the fox, it seems like there is always some pesky varmint that is determined to undermine our gardening efforts; mine is voles at the moment. And a belated Happy Birthday!

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    1. Hello Rose, I am finally getting around to replying to comments on previous posts of mine, better late than never :-) The tall cosmos are all gone by now, a couple of frost nights did away with them all even if they were still in full flower. But I am soon sowing them again as I was very happy with them.

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  17. Hello Helene,
    I hope you are doing better now! I have often struggled with all sort of colds since I gave birth to our children... Living stones, such a nice memory of my sister's succulent collection we used to have at home and I remember they had flowers in a small "hole" in between :-)! I really admire your pelargonium Appleblossom Rosebud I would love to have but I did not find it on any of our e-stores... I have to check it once again. Seeing your cosmos I had to laugh: 5 years ago I bought cosmos seeds to frame my improvised greenhouse. The whole summer season I had a complete shadow inside as cosmos had about 2 m at least :-)!
    I have been thinking of one dark red tea hybrid in our garden quite a long time and saw Ingrid Bergman several times but your photos really charmed me.
    It is a good time for harvesting here but the autumn weather has changed and it is quite chilly and rainy, anyway we really need that. So I hope some rain will move over UK as well! Take care, Helene!

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    1. Hello Helena, I can warmly recommend ‘Ingrid Bergman’, it is a lovely rose – quite small though so best at the front of a border and as with all dark red roses it frazzles a bit in very hot sunny weather so if you can provide some shade during the hottest part of the day then it will be happier. I have mine in a rose bed which is south facing, but ‘Ingrid Bergman’ is on the ‘north side’ of the bed so it gets some dappled shade from taller structures and an obelisk as the sun moves.

      I have high hopes from my Living Stone, I have had them for 3 months now and I can already see that they have grown in size. I hope they will flower but I am not expecting it as I know they should have much more sun than they will get in any of my windows. As long as they are happy and multiply I will settle for that, flowers would be a lovely bonus :-)

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  18. A visit to your peaceful garden is such a treat. I always look forward to it. Good luck with your brugmansias. I'm not sure about surviving winter in the UK. Mine survive in the ground, but our winters are typically mild and the plants are all in sheltered spots. We have had a winter in recent memory when our temperatures got as low as the high teens F. and they survived that, so they may be tougher than we give them credit for.

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    1. Hello Dorothy, I am finally getting around to replying about the brugmansia. Mine has survived 3 frost nights so far, two of them inside my shed, the third one outside as it came as a surprise to me (and BBC too I think!) – the frost was not forecasted. But a frost night here in London is just barely dipped below freezing so not exactly hard frost, and usually gone by lunchtime next day. I have taken 3 cuttings and they are all 3 happily growing indoors and have new leaves already so that’s going to be at least 2 plants to give away next year and one spare for me. I have read about people having large, container grown brugmansias here in London permanently outside so that’s what I will be aiming for eventually, once mine is a bit older.

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