Wednesday, 3 October 2018

October in the back garden

It may be October but our back garden still holds much of interest and there are as many plants in bloom as at any time of the year.

Most obvious is the yucca. Our plant, like most around Daventry, is Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'. It is native to the warm east coast regions of the U.S.A. between Virginia and Florida but appears to be perfectly hardy.

Yucca gloriosa is currently a fine sight. Our garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 3 October, 2018
From time to time over the years I have needed to move a specimen. It is a hazardous business. It is not called 'Spanish Dagger' for nothing and carelessness can lead to the loss of an eye. I suspect it is reasonably safe from grazing animals!

Earlier this year, on Friday 13th of July, we visited the late Beth Chatto's beautiful garden near Colchester and Chris bought a plant of Tulbaghia violacea. It was in flower at the time and is in flower still and shows no sign of stopping. I'm afraid my photograph shows the flowers as a wishy-washy off-white but in fact it is of a delicate violet colour.

Tulbaghia violacea may be a South African plant but seems very happy
with us. 3 October, 2018
This species, native to southern Africa, is sometimes called Society Garlic and when crushed the leaves and stems do have an onion-like smell. A couple of decades back it was regarded as a risky plant to grow in Britain but with climate warming it is a far safer bet.

Holotelephium spectabile is also a good, safe choice for all but the shadiest or wettest of gardens. I have photographed it at least partly to remind me that its former name of Sedum spectabile ought not to be used. The old name is not wrong but genetic research suggests that it is sufficiently different from other Sedums (Seda?) to merit being placed in a different genus. It is ultimately a matter of opinion.

Holotelephium spectabile is full of flower but lacks butterflies. Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 3 October, 2018

It is generally regarded as an excellent butterfly plant but sadly this year I have seen none on it.

Speaking of butterflies, an excellent plant for insects generally is the widely-popular Verbena bonariensis (bonariensis - of Buenos Aires). Theoretically it is extremely easy to grow but for some reason ours struggled a bit at first. However it is now doing well and has produced a few seedlings.

Verbena bonariensis. This time a South American but happy enough.
Stefen Hill. 3 October, 2018

Chris and I grow few roses. Partly it is down to a lack of space but the concept of a 'rose garden' does not appeal. We use them as we would use any other shrub but insist on fragrant varieties.
'The Pilgrim'. David Austin roses have a reputation for hanging their heads
but can be lovely. 3 October, 2018
The Pilgrim, a David Austin rose, is one of only four varieties we grow. It is very fragrant and is tall enough to train against a fence.

Finally a plant I am particularly fond of although it is admittedly not a dramatic feature. The Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo, has featured in a previous blog so I will not dwell on it. It causes surprise among many to learn that it is a member of the Heather family, Ericaceae.

The flowers of the Strawberry Tree are not fuzzy although my photograph
would suggest otherwise. 3 October, 2018
Ours is a young plant and this is the first year in which it has put on a show of flowers. There are no signs of the fruit yet but earlier today I photographed a specimen in Byfield bearing several of the scarlet, rather warty fruits.

A specimen in Church Street, Byfield, is bearing fruit.
3 October, 2018
Given visits from pollinators and we too should have some fruit a year hence.

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