Saturday, 15 November 2014

Border Rebellion

Would you believe it? There are still bees bumbling about in the garden and brave butterflies are being buffeted by the autumn wind. Has nobody told them that it is mid-November in rural England?

Centaurea montana 'Alba'
I garden with wildlife in mind and spend time selecting plants so that my garden can offer year-round food sources just in case a passing creature should find itself in need of refreshment. This year, in spite of all of my painstaking planning, the plants have thrown the rule book out of the window and have decided that mid-November is the time to strut their stuff. It's a fabulous party of flowers which never usually meet. Eryngium, Chaenomeles - even spring-flowering forget-me-nots have all forgotten their slot in the gardening calendar and are joining in the fun. If they hang on a bit longer, we may discover Delphinium and snowdrops having a ball.

Astrantia major 'Venice'
To post photos of every last one of this merry band of rebels might lead to you being confronted by the longest post in the history of the blogosphere, so you will doubtless be mightily relieved to learn that I am only going to show you a small selection from this mutinous and beautiful bunch.

Cerinthe major
In the annual department, we have been enjoying Cerinthe major since March. March! For the price of a packet of seeds! Other exceptional performers which don’t know when to stop are Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder', Cosmos bipinnatus 'Purity' and Nicotiana langsdorffii. I planted Nicotiana langsdorffii in the most windswept, inhospitable corner of the garden and it stood proud and unstaked all through summer. It remains unblemished by autumn and if we don’t get a frost soon, I suspect it might keep going into winter.

Nicotiana langsdorffii 
Of the climbers, the honeysuckles have lost all sense of timing and are continuing to bloom. Good old Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’, with its red trumpets blazing, is roaring across a rabbit fence to a family reunion with its quiet winter-flowering cousin Lonicera fragrantissima.

Lonicera fragrantissima
The flowering shrubs are showing unprecendented tenacity. Most of the Hydrangeas are sporting their lovely brown papery flower heads now, but half of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ plants are still in flower, with some starting to take on that tinge of pink we see as they go over. 

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
Lavandula x intermedia 'Sussex' is still throwing out new flowering stems, while Choisya ternata is showing immense confidence in British winters with masses of buds waiting to come into flower alongside the blooms which are already out. Flower buds on Cistus and Helianthemum are valiantly unfurling while in the shops, Slade are belting out "Merry Christmas Everybody". Then there are the roses. Although a number of rose cultivars flower until November, Rosa 'Rose Ball' has really impressed me. It is blooming beautifully and the flowers are holding well, with only slight damage to their outer petals, despite strong winds and rain.

Rosa 'Rose Ball'
Summer-flowering perennials appear to be blissfully unaware that they are a fortnight away from being two seasons out of season. Echinops is a real bee magnet and it is still producing new flower buds. Lamium maculatum, both 'White Nancy' and 'Beacon Silver' are blooming, as is a Delphinium! My hardy Geranium collection grows by the year which is no surprise since there are so many to choose from and we have been enjoying flowers since late spring. I could have photographed any one of six cultivars in the garden today. This one is the reliable and very beautiful 'Rozanne'. 

Geranium 'Rozanne'
I suspect that this might be my favourite ever autumn. There are seed heads and berries for the birds; pollinators have more flowers than I could have ever planned for; and frost is a distant memory.

Echinops ritro
My gratitude goes to the weather for providing a mixture of sunny and rainy shots. Special thanks go to the wind for the fuzzy photos and to the temperature for convincing the flowers that it is June. Let's face it, if you were an Echinops, would you go to the trouble of throwing out a new flower spike if you sensed frost? Without you, beautiful English weather, this post might never have been written. Thank you. 

Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder'

I am linking this post to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day which is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. I am now going to grab myself a warm drink and read about what is happening in gardens around the planet. Why not put on the kettle and pop over to and see what’s happening in other gardeners’ gardens?