THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN (October 2014)

We spent the last week of August with my daughter Louise and her husband James, and almost every day culminated in a visit to a garden centre. As we drive into a garden centre I always say, ‘I am not going to buy anymore plants’. Needless to say when we arrived home on the first of September, I had purchased two low growing Hebe’s, two new Heuchera’s, one alpine, a fiberglass trough and 12 winter flowering Viola’s. Being a typical man, I left Vi to do the unpacking while I set about planting my new acquisitions. Filling the trough was easy; I put an inch (25mm) of coarse gravel in the bottom and then filled it with the compost I had saved from my early potato tubs. The 12 Viola’s filled the trough and as the compost was so friable, they are now producing a good show of flowers. I always stand containers on pot feet to allow the container to drain; if you stand containers directly onto paving the drainage will be very poor, so that during very wet weather the plant roots will become waterlogged.
The low, mound forming, evergreen Hebe’s I purchased are ‘Donna Julia’, which produces spires of bright blue flowers and Hebe addenda ‘Tricolor’, which as the name suggests has green, yellow and pink foliage, also spires of purple-red flowers. Hebe’s are native to New Zealand and although many are hardy, during very hard winters there are some which may be damaged. I can only hope these are amongst the hardy ones.
Leucothoe ScarlettaI also purchased Leucothoe ‘Scarletta’, which forms a low growing evergreen shrub whose young foliage is dark green edged with deep red, but during the autumn the whole of the foliage turns completely red, see picture. Leucothoe shrubs prefer acid soils, so I have planted this in a peaty border close to Pieris ‘Flaming Silver’ to get the contrast between deep red and creamy silver foliage.
For a number of years I have grown Abelia ‘Confetti’ in my West facing front garden. This lovely, graceful shrub produces white, open trumpet shaped flowers during September and October. The flowers are often written about as being fragrant, and although the bees seem to love the shrub, you will need to get close to the plant to appreciate any scent. Abelia ‘Confetti’ has attractive evergreen foliage, which when young is dark green, but as the foliage ages it develops a broad cream edge. Even in the winter, without flowers it creates a bright focal point in the garden.
My hardy Cyclamen are producing a magnificent show of colour, and depending on species will flower from early August until March. Cyclamen hederifloium is by far the easiest to grow as it will tolerate most soils and grow in up to seventy-five per cent shade. The flowers vary from pure white, through shades of mauve and almost red. The foliage is very attractive being green with silver Christmas tree-like patterns in it, or even completely silver. The foliage will die down during May and it is at this time many people will think they have died, but Cyclamen are summer deciduous.
I take a monthly magazine called ‘The Plantsman’, which is aimed at the enthusiastic gardener. In the September addition I noticed plants listed, which were entered for the RHS plant of the year. Amongst the plants listed was Narcissus ‘Georgie Boy’, this is a daffodil with white tepals and a large frilled trumpet. I already have over 40 varieties of daffodil in my garden. However, I ordered ten of these, as this daffodil is to commemorate HRH Prince George of Cambridge, William and Kate’s son.
On holiday Vi bought a Sempervivum, I said we already have that and fifty others, but she bought it, so I planted it in my gravel scree. Incidentally, Sempervivums will grow on walls and even on a house roof. In the old days they were often planted on house roofs, it was then thought to prevent lightening from striking the house and If you believe that, then you will believe anything.