Thank you to all of you who has been following me on Facebook and Instagram through my blogging break, I am better now and have been able to do some pottering around the garden the last couple of weeks. The weather has been unusually dry for the time of year and last week I actually had the garden hose out and watered the whole garden – in December! I can’t remember ever doing that before, but it was necessary, we haven’t had any substantial rain yet and the few times it has rained it hasn’t mounted to much. Even Wednesday this week, when the whole country was promised buckets of rain....what did we get here in London? Some measly drizzle for a couple of hours. As I am writing this, UK is bracing itself for storm Barbara and we were supposed to get 6 hours of rain this evening. We did get some rain and it was heavy for a short time, but it just barely covered the bottom of a tray I left out to catch rain water. Here in the quiet corner of the South East we are mostly spared the winter storms and a lot of the rain, I know there are other parts of UK that has had more rain than they would wish for lately so sometimes it would have been nice if we could share it a bit more evenly between us :-)
The dry summer and autumn has meant that the trees have shed all their leaves very quickly this autumn, the whole thing was over in a few short weeks. I don’t mind, it makes life easier when clearing up the leaves, last year I was sweeping up leaves until February.
The garden looks so open and empty with many of the herbaceous plants gone away for the winter.
I have started pruning the roses and slowly clearing the beds for leaves at the same time.
It is a bit sad to cut down the roses when they still have buds and flowers, but it is a job that has to be done and it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time when they all are sprouting new leaves. This bed is ready to get some of my many potted plants waiting to get in the ground. Not sure yet what will end up here but as it is a fairly sunny bed I have lots to choose from!
The last couple of weeks I have mainly been sitting on my gardening stool picking up leaves from the flower beds. This large gardening caddy is the best tool I have in the garden beside my trusty stool and I can’t manage without either of them.
Fortunately green waste is picked up for free by the council and all I need to do is send them an online request and they come and pick up the bags within the next 2 working days. The council compost the waste and use it around the borough – I think it is a great arrangement since I couldn’t possibly compost all the garden waste I produce myself anyway, and at least it doesn’t just go to landfill.
I have lots more leaves to pick up and many more roses to prune – I just couldn’t cut off all these David Austin roses so I pruned half and left the branches with flowers on for now. I will get back to these when they are finished flowering.
It might seem a luxury to have roses in December but I always have at least some roses flowering for Christmas every year.
This is David Austin’s ‘Wildeve’.
And this is ‘Scepter’d Isle’ – and both David Austin roses are much darker pink during the winter than the rest of the year, a feature I really appreciate, it’s almost like different types of roses than the pale pink I get in the summer.
Here is a photo I posted on Facebook the first week of December, for all of you who haven’t seen it - it is the last of the strawberries and the first of the snowdrops. Gardening in London is a joy :-)
And here are the same snowdrops 3 weeks later, photo taken yesterday, only days away from flowering.
We have had a mix of very gloomy weather with a lot of fog – and days of glorious sunshine. This is the view from the corner of my front garden and what I see from my bedroom window.
Penstemon Pensham 'Amelia Jayne' is always flowering long into winter.
Out here in the front garden there has been all-change since my last post. A couple of frost nights where the temperature dipped just below freezing did away with all my bedding plants including all the tall cosmos still with lots of flowers and buds. So that meant out with the summer flowers and in with the winter plants.
I have planted pansies, primulas and cineraria in the window boxes and some of the containers.
They will go on flowering until early summer and brighten up the front garden.
The magnolia seems to be doing well here in the side of the front garden. It was planted in February and I am sure it was happy to finally get its roots in the ground after having lived all its life in a container and survived moving house last year. I have counted over 40 buds so if the weather is not too rough in March it should be the best magnolia flowering I have had so far.
Out here in the front garden I have some very neglected pelargoniums – they haven’t been fed since last spring and have hardly had any water being half under the porch – but they still flower!
The flowers of ‘Appleblossom’ are just lovely. Such a treat to have flowers like this for Christmas.
Even more treat is it to have raspberries! This is one of the two raspberry plants I bought almost a year ago which didn’t flower last summer. I thought perhaps the canes needed another year, but this one was a bit too impatient so decided to get started now, in December. It looks like the berries are ripening too so I might get a taste, if I can get them before the squirrels or birds eat them!
In the Woodland Garden most things are gearing up for spring and plants and bulbs are peeping out of ground everywhere.
Last year I had lots of mushrooms here in the Woodland Bed, this year it has been so dry and not really good conditions for them, I have found one though – and funnily enough – it is growing right next to the group of ceramic toadstools. Almost like it knew where it belongs!
Camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ has grown to double size since I bought it as a cutting 18 months ago. I wonder if it will double in size every 18 months?? The flowers are pure white and gorgeous.
I have a winter jasmine in a pot with no permanent home yet. These plants grow to monster size eventually and needs serious hacking back every year – I bought it just when I moved in here in a rather foolish belief that I had ample space for lots of new plants. Hah! I struggle with squeezing in the plants I already have, even with a bigger garden than I used to have. Same old problem :-)
Let me show you the beautyberries I was fretting about last year when I didn’t know if this bush was self-fertile or not. The berries look even lovelier now when the leaves have gone – and of course the matching coloured fence helps too!
Here is another beauty against my plum-coloured fence; Malva sylvestris 'Mystic Merlin'. I can’t believe it is still in flower, it is supposed to flower until September, die down for the winter and come back next spring. I don’t think my plant has read the instructions....
Among the more or less showy flowers in my garden there is some really beautiful foliage. To the left is Rhododendron 'Princess Anne' – evergreen with green foliage that turns bronze in the winter and then green again in the spring. Amazing! And to the right is Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' which has lovely, pale yellow flowers in the spring, green foliage most of the year except in the winter when it is burgundy-bronze. Epimedium is semi-evergreen in my garden and I cut it down only when new foliage appears.
My garden bench is as usual being used as waiting room for plants in need of care and attention. Right now it’s rather crowded here both on and under the bench, and some plants are a bit unruly and not good at keeping their place in the queue. That’s not helped by squirrels playing about thinking that everything I place here is especially served for them! Not that it matters much where I put things, everything growing in a pot or a container seems to be in danger of a squirrel attack.
But most of the time we live in harmony, birds, critters small and large – and me. And sometimes we are treated to some lovely sunsets. I have posted some of these on Facebook and Instagram, but for those of you who don’t follow me there – here are a couple.
These are all from December and taken from my garden.
The moon, seen from my front garden.
And finally – as it is Christmas I am rounding up with some photos of this year’s Christmas decoration. This is my Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ with battery fairy lights. It is a lovely, container grown evergreen bush now in its 12th year and perfect as a small outdoor living Christmas tree. In my bedroom window you can see the Christmas star so typical for Norwegian Christmas decoration.
Indoors I am opting for a much more practical artificial tree - I had never even seen one before moving to Britain but over here they are the most commonly used Christmas trees so I am having one too. I do miss the smell of a real Christmas tree though!
The candle bridge is typical Norwegian Christmas decoration but thanks to Ikea it now seems like every other home has one here in Britain. It is the very first piece of decoration that comes out of storage in my house together with the Christmas star - on the 1st day of advent. The Christmas tree and the rest of the decoration are usually saved until a week before Christmas. The funny looking stones in the foreground is my first attempt to grow Living Stones – Lithops. They seem very happy so far and have grown since I got them in September. They need absolutely no water between September and May. I have to really be careful when I water the plants here so I don’t give these a splash without thinking – they really need NOTHING and could rot and even burst if they are watered. It will be fun to see if they all grow a new ‘stone’ next spring!
My Christmas tree decoration is plum and gold, nothing over the top really.
And the traditional tree topper seems to have been swapped with just about anything these days, but I am sticking to my 32 year old Christmas star.
Out in the hallway I have some Christmas figures that are 30 years this Christmas, I got them when my son was just a baby.
Happy Christmas to everyone, I hope you have a lovely and peaceful festive season and I hope the weather isn’t too forceful in your corner of the world – wherever you are. Here in London we are expecting 14 degrees C (57 F) on Christmas Day, it could be tempting to go out and plant some of the crocuses I still haven’t managed to get in the ground! Whatever you do and however you celebrate, have a lovely weekend. Until next time, take care.