The slow approach of autumn

Sunday, September 9, 2018

After posting for the first time, a mid month News item, which covered early August News, the weather went slowly dowhill and early signs of Autumn began to appear.

Plenty of early berries like this sorbus (mountain ash) which  as well as other native and ornamental trees was flowering earlier than usual.

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The garden still continues to look good with all the later season favourites  going strong and new ones appearing on the scene.

This fine stand of aster frikartii "Monch"



With Moira then still not having had her long overdue knee operation, we took advantage of the opportunity to get out and about as much as possible to gardens large and small and a range of other interesting destinations. Moira has at last just  had a date of 19 September for her operation.

The increasingly changeable weather has made it difficult to plan work in the garden especially mowing the lawns, which have had to make do with far less than they usually get

(only 3-4 a week-may be not much by your standards but as you know I am a lawn nut!!)

The frequent, often heavy rain has brought on masses of weeds everywhere adding to the workload!

It's not all hard graft however, so please read on to learn about all the other good  things that have excited us, and by the way after being inundated with e. mails cards and phone messages following our "Gardeners' World" appearance things have calmed down, but it was great fun while it lasted. Our August website hits registered just over 700 well above our normal average. If you are one of these thanks for visiting and please keep it up and tell your friends and family.



A stark contrast with July. with some very heavy rain, overall rainfall of 3.5" during the month. Changeable weather predominated

8 rain days, 12 changeable days, only 5 completely sunny days with some humid days, 3 thunderstorms and lightning Max 26.7C on 4th, 9 days above20C. 13 nights below10C min, 2.3 C on 11th after 22 C in the the day!! 

A typical sky during the month. Very few days of unbroken blue sky




The green green grass of Carmarthenshire. Quie a contrast to a couple of moths ago



Garden update

Vegatables are cropping well but brassicas have been badly affected by the heat and drought, but particularly by the cabbage white butterflies which always seem to find a way under the protective covering of fleece. Some cabbages have had their crowns eaten out. For a staple  vegetable it is quite a loss.

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 This summer I planned lettuce sowing and planting out so well that we have not yet run out of salad since the middle of May. I am too modest for words! All being well we should continue to have a crop  from the garden until late October and then some from the polytunnel. Having been banned from eating salad crops for nearly 5 months whilst undergoing chemotherapy, it means a lot to me to be able to eat salad every day now as I do enjoy it.

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Beetroot and French beans however in a range of colours are as good as I can remember them and the potatoes are ready for harvest as soon as we get our next spell of dry weather. 

Spuds ready for harvest with haulms cut off  for ease of digging


From left to right  "Pablo" , "Burpees Golden" "Chioggia"

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Leeks were planted at last, as soon as the late peas were harvested. Less vegetable beds than  I used to have,so best use has to be made of them as soon as they become available.



The 2 cooking apple trees in the garden which were here when we came 42 years ago, are laden with fruit, half of which has already dropped from the trees or has been gorged upon by hordes of crows. Still plenty of good fruit to come however.


Sadly it is the end of the road for the best cropping of sweetcorn you can imagine, on 60 highly productive plants of "Earli Bird" over half the crop having been spoiled by blackbirds pecking them, which I have seen on the job and possibly finished off by squirels. Only half of most of the cobs are ruined, but are now inedible, being  tough and rather tasteless



Hydrangeas , almost 70, continue to make a substantial contribuition to borders everwhere, and the paniculata flowerheads make that marvellous change from white to shades of red.

One of the best is Hydrangea p. "Everest"  well named for its perfect peaks of pure white  flowers. Later than most to start  turning pink

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Unlike "Vanille Fraise" which can't wait to start turning pink then deep red. Still one of my favourites.



Hedge cutting awaits next month.


What's looking good?

A shady but gently understated border at the top of the House Garden featuring Japanese grass Hakanechloa Macra, "Inula Hookerii" a vigorous yellow daisy, and other choice plantings such a s blue aster (now Symphyotricum) "Marie Ballard" and a range of hostas and hydrangeas, and other little treasures waiting to make their contribution well into autumn.


 A month later than normal Cyclamen hederifolium "Album"begins to get going under the shade of an acer.


   We have some fine thalictrums in many shady areas of the garden like this T. rochybruneanum, and relying og Hydrangea Paniculata "Limelight" for support. 5 feet tall with delicate lavender flowers Totally charming like all members of the genus.


 Hibiscus have revelled in the mid summer warmth for the first time since 2006. "Red Heart" is a striking form.


 Unusual seed pods on baptisia australis, another plant that is showing the benefit of a hot summer with deeply purple bloated seed pods


 A mixed border leading up to the greenhouse and featuring mostly single dark leaved Dahlia. In a terrble year for capsid bugs on a wide variety of plants, the single dahlia forms seem to be far less afected than those with multiple flowered heads which I think give protection to the bugs.



Dichroa febrifuga, a rather tender  hydrangea relative for shade, hence grown in a pot for a choice, rather shady location outside the conservatory.



Some tender plants plants never  come out from the protection of the large tunnel where they put up an attractive show. I am becoming increasingly fond of the myriad forms of begonias and adding height to this display is the bulbous Sinningia tubiflora, with arching vaguely lemon scented flowers. It occurred to me how like a mini Cardiocrinum Giganteum it looks!  It bulks up quickly to give new bulbs from which to propagate All of those in the pic were split from parent plants in early spring this year. An attractive and good value plant.



Wildlife and Countryside

An amazing event mid month was the sight of a female Goshawk, a fierce raptor, attacking a murder of crows, as a gathering of crows is known.  She failed to make a kill but certainly caused a great deal of consternation and quickly put the crows to flight. We were gratefut at the time that we had Tim, an experienced birdwatcher friend of ours visiting  who gave us a positive identification, Shame as always at a time like this I had no camera to hand! (I probably wouldn't have captured a picture if I had!)

In a bid to get a picture of a goshawk and pass it off as the real thing, very cheeky that! we paid a visit next day to National Botanic Garden for Wales which now hosts The British Birds of Prey Centre and I found a male Goshawk in a cage with its keeper but not that morning flying free so no chance to hoodwink you!! You can see however how relatively small is the male of the species.



 Particularly when compared to this huge specimen of a White Tailed Sea Eagle


Another good bird sighting was of a kingfisher over the paddok pond, which we haven't seen all year. Another unusual passing waterbird was a goosander which with a pondful of fish we definitely don't want to see again again as they are varacious fish predators.

The grass has greened up at last and is growing away strongly much to the delight of our farmer neighbours who are looking forward to a late greas harvest next month to replenish what they have already used sinnce the early summer harvest. It is good to see the countryside looking like Carmarthenshire again. And with the grass, for the first time in many  years, have come large crops of field Mushrooms in adjoining fields.


Gerallt, one of our farmer"neighbours"  a couple of miles away, has had so many he has even  been sharing them around  our nearest village which was a very public spirited gesture and much appreciated.



Because Moira's knee operation is only a few weeks off (we hope) after a wait of 22 months, we have taken every opportunity to get away for short breaks and outings to a variety of locations encompassing; Somerset, Devon, Buckinghamshire  and Gloucestershire and other locations closer to home. Unsurprisngly for us they all centred on gardens, but also included  stately homes and other cultural venues. The garden has suffered at times but fortunately one of our  young neighbours, Sion, stepped in to do the watering for us which was an onerous task because not only the nursery and protected areas had to be watered twice a day, but also the veg garden and all the recently planted borders. It was quite a baptism for him on the first occasion he had done it  but he proved himself to be thorough and reliable.

Here are pics of some of the places we visited:

Somerset, Forde Abbey





 What are they all waiting for?


 Woosh - a 180 feet tall fountain



Knightshayes Court, Tiverton, Devon,

Part of the very large walled kitchen garden


 Which is full of all sorts of quirky features





And what about a terracotta army of plant forcers in the midle of Devon? 



More strange goings on in a childrens play area where I stood out as the only adult without children in tow!!. It really was fascinating to see how 4 extremely large  felled oak trees had been fashioned. The kids, including me enjoyed it, but I am beyond climbing them like they did!







And alongside the River Exe -  the Fishermans Cot, the hotel pub restaurant where we stayed




 Just over the road alongside the river was a private garden full of fine plants like this mature specimen of clereodendron trichotomum fargessii covered in masses of sweet scented flowers to be followed later by the most striking blue berries



Pan Global Plants in Gloucestershire,  one of the best nurseries we know and a particular favourite, with a large selection of rare and unusual plants, many collected by the owner




 2 more Somerset gardens both in one day on a South Wales Group Hardy Plant Society outing.

Kilver Court

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Hauser & Wirth

 A facinating combination of world famous art gallery combined with a prairie style garden designed by Piet Oudolf as an art feature in its own right. This captured the attention and admiration of many of the HPS members who can often be very fussy about their choice of gardens and plant selections. Almost without exception they spoke very highly of it on the way home and deservedly so too, particularly for the extensive and intruiging range of cultvars of more familiar genus which got us all scratching our heads to name. Late on we came across in the shop an excellent guide book!


The old original farmhouse one of several  buidings around which the centre has been fashioned



The newer parts


 Painting with plants


 HPS Members deep in contemplation!












 An exhibition taking place at the time entitled "From the Stony River to the Sky" byAlexander Calder,  a pioneering  American artist of the 20C known primarily for his invention of the mobile, made of sheet metal and wire. Without an excellent guide I guess it would not have been readily accessible, it would have been difficult to appreciate some of the many pieces on display!


 Topped off by an award winning restaurant and bar it represented one of the best and very different garden outings we have had.

And closer to home

National Botanic Garden for Wales

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Thank you for visiting the website and please accept my apologies for the late publication of this month's News and the shortfall of pictures in some items. I have masses of good pics, but for the second time in 3 months after I thought it had been fixed, I have had substantial probles in carrying them across from files to the text of the website. And doesn't it always happen, but they are some of best!!