Monday, 16 November 2015

The garden in mid-November

Mid-November, and it is time to 'put the garden to bed', if it hasn't already been done.

For me that has involved tying things back, dead-heading plants, removing spent annuals and biennials plus a bit of weeding.

It sometimes pays to weed with care. Most weeds are obvious and, by definition, unwanted, but here and there a gem may be lurking. I put in a rare species of thrift this year and, as I removed some seedlings of Hairy Bitter-cress (what a nuisance that plant is!) I noticed that it had produced several seedlings.

Armeria pseudarmeria is still in flower.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 16 November, 2015

The Thrift in question is Armeria pseudarmeria, an endangered species endemic to a small region of Portugal. Fortunately it is now common in cultivation and has given rise to several fine varieties. My plant began flowering in May and is still producing its crimson blooms, perhaps because I have kept dead-heading it.

The 'seedlings' may in fact have arisen from underground runners but, whatever their origin, they will be jealously guarded.

Only half a metre away is a hummock-shaped Mossy Saxifrage, Saxifraga bryoides. These can easily be bought at a couple of pounds each but I'll have no need to purchase any.

Seedlings of a mossy saxifrage. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
16 November, 2015

In the gravel around the parent plant are dozens of seedlings. Again these will be nurtured to see how they turn out. The parent bears pink flowers, but as for the seedlings - who knows?

And then there is a Sea Holly,  Eryngium 'Blue Hobbit'. This is a dwarf form of Eryngium planum, but is a neater and far more desirable plant.

This has produced at least two seedlings; one can be seen immediately above the main plant and the other is towards the top right corner. They may not be as attractive as the parent but, of course, they could be just as attractive, if different.

Heartsease-type pansies are popping up everywhere.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 16 November, 2015

As for little 'Heartsease' pansies, there are dozens popping up, all from an unknown source. But although I didn't introduce them they are very welcome, even though careful weeding is required if they are not to become invasive. In the USA they are known as 'Johnny Jump-ups'

So, the moral is, remove 'weeds' judiciously.

A dark-leaved Aeonium, probably a form of Aeonium arborium, is waiting for the first frost. These succulents are native to the Canary Islands so are tender and ought to be over-wintered with care. Unfortunately I don't have the facilities for this so it is probably doomed.

The caterpillar of the Large Yellow Underwing is not
the prettiest of larvae! Stefen Hill. 16 November, 2015

While tweaking out weeds I unearthed a fat caterpillar. It is the Large Yellow Underwing, Noctua pronuba. This abundant moth is one of the 'cutworms', so-called because they will eat through the stem of a plant at the base and so cut it down. I left it where it was so it has two chances: quickly burrow back into the soil or fall prey to a blackbird or robin.

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