Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Buchan's Little Summer

We have enjoyed warm sunshine throughout September giving us a lovely Indian Summer. Chris tells me that as a child in Stafford a warm autumnal spell was known as Buchan's Little Summer. A trawl of the internet has drawn a blank; the term is either very localised or defunct.

Anyway here we are, 6 October and the lovely weather, call it what you will, has come to a shuddering halt, with heavy rains, a strong gusting wind and a significant drop in temperature. Time for the central heating to be brought into play!

Rain or not, the roses are flowering bravely but this specimen in Byfield, with opulent flowers, had not a trace of scent. It wouldn't find a place in my garden. It was growing beside the village hall in Byfield.

Rosa rugosa with flowers and fruit. Byfield

As for this Rosa rugosa, it was clearly out of synch with the seasons!

Although neither rose had fragrance there was a heavy and delicious scent coming from nearby.

Eleagnus x ebbingei  in Byfield, Northants.
6 October, 2014

I traced it to a short hedge of Eleagnus x ebbingei. Now it has to be said that this is a dull shrub, having leathery evergreen leaves with a rather scabrous surface. The cream flowers are tiny but they really do carry a punch when it comes to perfume. If it must be grown, place it near to the house or to a window so that the fragrance can drift in. Even in the wet, miserable conditions it put L'Orial perfumes to shame. But in my garden? No, its not worth it.

If the Eleagnus was rather dull a nearby sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus more than made up for it. Sycamore foliage generally provides good autumn colour but the reds are not always this striking.

Pseudofumaria lutea (= Corydalis lutea)

I seem to be implying that there are few flowers to be seen in October and this, of course, is far from the case. At the base of a low wall clumps of Yellow Corydalis, Pseudofumaria lutea, were in full bloom. This plant is so familiar to us that it is hard to believe that it is not native to Britain. Its home is in the southern Alps but it clearly finds conditions in Britain congenial.

With delicate, fern-like leaves and pretty flowers it would be tempting to introduce it into a rock garden. One word: don't (or is that strictly two words?) The differences between this and true fumitories, Fumaria species, are trivial and are based on the number of seeds in the fruit-capsule. Don't be surprised if its Latin name doesn't change again.

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