I know it is late for me to mention this, but during the last week in September Vi said, “your garage looks disgusting and I think it’s time we cleaned it out”. To me, a garage is only somewhere to keep the car so I do not bother about the dust on the bench and floor. However, out came the cleaning materials, and as I was brushing the grime from beneath the bench, I came upon a ball of bristles, which turned out to be a hedgehog. As the garage door is usually closed, we had no idea how long it had been there, so we took it along to Pat Wadd, the hedgehog lady. Pat lives in Barkby Road, Queniborough and is renowned for her work in rescuing wounded or abandoned hedgehogs. Pat told us that it was a female hedgehog, which, as it could not find its way out, had just gone to sleep. Pat is also a keen gardener, and her large garden contains some unusual plants. A very large plant of Clematis rhederiana grew over a hedge and up into a small tree, where thousands of small, pale yellow, bell-shaped flowers filled the air with a primrose-like fragrance. I also came across a mallow-like plant that was eight feet (2.5m) tall, but I could not find its name.
Now back to my garden where during late October and November a number of plants are still in flower. Heptacodium miconoides will, if left to its own devices, soon form a large, open, deciduous shrub with large three veined leaves and heads of small white, scented flowers, which open during October and last until mid November. As this shrub flowers on its current year’s growth, I prune it hard back, so that over a ten-year period I have maintained this as a three feet (1m) tall shrub.
Many Mahonia’s will start to produce their spires of yellow flowers during the autumn and early winter. In the past, I have mentioned the newly introduced Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Curls’ as it produces rosettes of spine free evergreen leaves, but during October, from the center of each rosette, between nine and twelve spires of soft yellow flowers started to appear. The flowers will last into late November and if the flowers are pollinated blue-black berries will appear, but if, like all Mahonia’s these are attractive to birds, then they will not last long on the plant.
When autumn arrives most herbaceous perennials will have finished flowering, but I grow a number, which produce their flowers during our short day lengths. I do not have space to mention all of those I grow, but one lovely low, cascading Japanese gem deserves a mention, this is Thalictrum kiusianum, pictured left, which I have growing over a rock, in dry sandy loam beneath a large golden conifer. This gem produces 12/18 inch (30/45cm) long cascading stems of vibrant lilac-purple flowers from late September until the end of October, it would be ideal to plant it to flow over the wall of a raised bed.
For almost six months, I had a pot-grown plant of Anisodontea ‘Crystal Rose’ growing in my conservatory, but as it grew, it kept shedding its bottom leaves, so Vi said ‘I am not having this plant in my conservatory, take it out! So, as the plant originates from Cape Province, I stood the pot in full sun, on a raised bed in the garden, where believe it or not, it never dropped its bottom leaves. ‘Crystal Rose’ has mallow-like flowers, whose lilac-pink petals have a red centre. It will have to go into my cold greenhouse during the winter months.