Friday, 16 December 2016

Morning frost

With the garden under ice and snow, there's nothing to do but worry about the survival of my more tender plants, even as I admire the beauty of the street tree outside our windows.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Winter monochrome

Snow has come unexpectedly in this first week of December, changing the garden completely to a black-and-white composition.

 Some shrubs are looking decidedly unhappy, bowed down with chunks of the white stuff, which is more ice than snow thanks to a partial thaw and freeze. Enkianthus perulatus has a starring role again after its fall splendour, since its thin, wiry branches have held up better than most others. The red of the house as a backdrop highlights its elegant shape.

Elsewhere the berries of a Skimmia japonica and the last rosehips of Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' provide a little Christmas colour.

Fall Brilliance

Since my last post, too many other tasks  - and some enjoyable travel - have demanded my attention, but I did get a few opportunities to record the jewel colours of fall.
Among this October's highlights were the barley-sugar leaves of my little Japanese maple,'Waterfall', backed by dark red Sedum 'Autumn Joy'.

A little later, both were echoed by Rhododendron schlippenbachii and Enkianthus perulatus against the backdrop of our house.

Hardy Begonia grandis tucked into the corner behind the Enkianthus was still flowering with bright pink flowers changing to seed pods. Meanwhile its leaves had begun to turn from green to yellow. Soon it will disappear altogether, to be forgotten until late spring. It has to be one of the slowest perennials to wake up from its winter sleep.

 On the other side of our front path, Hosta 'Blue Umbrellas' and Hydrangea 'Beni Gaku' behind it are contributing to my autumn palette of dark red and gold.

Much as I love hostas, most are a regular disappointment for me at this time of the year because they just don't die gracefully.  In the back garden 'Krossa Regal', probably my favourite in spring and summer with its strong blue presence, collapses into a spineless heap in October and has to be cut to the crown.

At least that allows Heuchera 'Blackberry Ice' a bit more space to shine in.
And there's actually a lot more going on to distract from the uncooperative plants. Aconites are still blooming in electric blue, Hydrangea 'Sikes' Dwarf' in front is slowly changing colour, the burnt orange of leaves on Stewartia pseudocamellia stands out between the flaming reds of its companion blueberries and both get an extra boost from the yellowing foliage of Sanguisorba 'Finale' behind.

There are softer caramel colours on Rosa pimpinellifolia behind the back fence and Paeonia mlokosewitchii under the pear tree on the right-hand side. Between them, leaves on the last two stems of 'Casablanca' lilies have turned acidic yellow. Assorted plants that remain green tie everything together. Whether it's the contrast with their neighbours or a trick of the autumn light, their colours seem more intense than usual.