Saturday 29 October 2011

29.10. Loropetalum chinense

It’s been a lovely day in my garden today; 18-19 degrees and sunshine, although there was a sharp wind at times which made taking close-up photographs of flowers a bit of a challenge – standing and waiting for the wind to ease so I could take photos right at the correct moment, just to find that as I pressed the button there was another blow of wind which pushed the flower out of focus. Thank goodness for digital cameras, it doesn’t cost anything extra if you have to retake, however many times it take :-)

I have finally got gravel on my new path, after a trip to B&Q with my son today; it is now finally in place. The gravel has a different colour than the old one, light brown rather than grey, but I think that is simply because it’s cleaner! A year or so with dirty London rain and that should be sorted and the new part will probably have the same colour as the old. I have considered cleaning the old gravel; pouring on some washing-up liquid mixed with water and then hosing it down with water, but I am not sure if my plants will like that water which in due course would trickle down into the flower beds. Better not take that chance, it would be a shame if I killed off all the plants in my garden in order to clean the gravel!

As I wrote in my post on the 24th, some of my plants are a bit confused with the unusually warm weather we are having. Today I found another plant which has started spring way early. The plant in the brown tub is a new one for me, I bought it online in May and was a bit disappointed about how small it was when I received it. The plant is called Loropetalum chinense 'Black Pearl', also called Chinese Fringe Bush, a slow growing evergreen shrub which will take around 20 years to reach its full size of 1.5m height and width. Many online companies don’t write what delivery size their plants are, only what size you can expect the plant to reach fully mature, and crucially, not how long it takes to reach full maturity. After seeing the photo of this gorgeous shrub on their web-site I decided to buy this plant, without reading anything else apart from the info they gave on the site. Whilst waiting for my delivery I decided to read a bit more about it, not knowing anything about it from before, had not even heard about this shrub before, and was a bit frustrated when I realised how long I would have to wait for it to get mature. So I hoped they would send me a really big sample….and felt a bit let down by the small pot I received. It was so small, I didn’t dare plant it in the ground, so it stayed in the pot until last month and I have just planted it in this tub. But the plant has nearly doubled in size since May so I feel quite assured that it will soon look a healthy size.

And it looks like I won’t have to wait years for the flowers either; it has just started to produce its first set of flowers! Loropetalum chinense normally flowers in February to April so having flowers in October are just as upside-down as having flowers on my Hydrangea right now! The flowers are just as bright dark pink as in this photo and quite scented although I could not smell any scent on this flower yet, perhaps it has to come out properly first. The leaves on the Loropetalum chinense stay this black-purple all year round, it is not an autumn colour. I am really excited about this plant and I hope it will thrive in a tub for now, if it is going to take 20 years to grow to full size it should not be a problem to give it a bigger tub every 3-4 year for a long time.

Here is a plant that is also doing well, and is supposed to flower right now :-) I have around 15 cyclamens in different colours, the white ones have come out first but the pink and red ones are right behind and almost ready to flower. As long as they get enough water, cyclamens are a great way of getting colour to the flower beds during the winter, and they will keep flowering through the winter until it gets too hot for them, usually around late May. All they need is pinching off the spent flower heads so they don’t go to seeds and the plants keep on flowering. They die down completely during the summer, including the leaves, but come autumn, they reappear again bigger than the year before.

My roses are still going strong, here is a shot of my yellow roses, called Freedom. They look particularly well before they are fully opened, and are one of the oldest features in my garden. I have just started on my fifth book, which will be about roses, all of the pictures will be roses from my own garden and I hope I have enough pictures to fill a whole book. If not I will have to delay the project a bit and wait for the first flush of roses in May next year and take some more photos, but from what I have collected together from all the years I have been taking pictures in my garden it seems like there are plenty of rose pictures for a book. You can SEE MY OTHER BOOKS HERE, all of which are self-published through

That was it for tonight, tomorrow we are promised more nice warm weather and I got some pots to paint and some more plants to get in the ground. Better get it done when I can, it will soon turn cold and rainy; London in November and December is a chilly place I can tell you, the cold goes straight through you like nothing I have ever experienced in Norway! I have been told that it is because we are so close to the Thames River, and perhaps that’s what makes it so icy cold, but I much rather prefer minus 15 in the mountains of Norway than zero degrees and rain in London. Brrr! The good thing about London though is that the winter is so short; once we get past Christmas and January, the spring is here, only 3 months to go! See you next time, take care.

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