Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Buzz

Spring seems to have come in early this year and summer came in so late, albeit a short one too, and now it's autumn and the signs of this season are undeniably everywhere now. Leaves of several deciduous trees and shrubs are already changing colours whilst some have already shed their leaves with nothing left now but just bare stems and branches.

This particular Aloe polyphylla has done incredibly well this year. I re-potted it last spring (whilst watching Prince Will and Kate's wedding on TV) and it was a generous sized pot for it's size back then, with a two inch gap between the rim of the pot and the tip of the spines all around. It obviously appreciated being over potted and now it is much bigger than the pot and is around 16'' in diameter. Now with having so many bamboos in the garden it is inevitable that nearly all of the succulents we display here gather leaf litter on their crown at any point, but this aloe seems to have avoided it all along. One time I said to myself 'Autumn will be here once I see a red leaf falling onto it's crown'. And that's exactly what I found this morning and taken a photo of.

Agave attenuata - a tiny plant we bought back from Madeira, now it's starting to form a trunk
So what happened between spring and summer then if the latter came in so late here? Well, a long 'spring' I suppose, and I can't even remember a single sultry evening on the supposed to be 'summer' here until for a few days in early October. And now the warm spell is over the weather definitely feels autumnal now.

Cussonia spicata - gorgeous foliage but has to be overwintered indoors
It's a tricky time of the year especially if you're in the middle of a big project like we are. We prepared the garden as you would in the spring and come summer time it was pretty much able to fend for itself, with some routine maintenance of course, whilst we concentrated on our project. Now that autumn is here we have to primarily shift our attention again to the garden as we prepare it for the coming winter months.

Cassia marilandica - the hardy Cassia that comes back from the ground every spring (shame this photo turned out blurred!)
There's so much to do but nothing daunting enough to cause stress and nothing that we're unfamiliar with any more. Autumn is the messiest of the four seasons so it's mainly loads of tidying up in the coming weeks then putting up necessary protection on certain plants for the coming winter.

Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight' - blooming away till the first frosts
One special thing that I do enjoy this time around is that I get to spend some time inspecting individual plants as I prepare them for winter, giving them a once over and assessing what sort of extra care that they'll need next year, or simply appreciating their beauty and how they have done so well in the past months.

And another thing, certain plants look their best and flower during autumn and I look forward to seeing them in this period every year, like toad lilies which I absolutely love for both its flowers and foliage. This one in particular is my favourite, Tricyrtis lasciocarpa.

Tricyrtis lasciocarpa
So, I've got lots more random musings to come up in the next few weeks as we prepare our garden for another winter. Meanwhile I shall relish myself (and you, our blog readers) with the beautiful flowers of Kniphofia thompsonii flowering for the first time in our (new) garden.

Kniphofia thompsonii



  1. Great photos. That Dahlia is beautiful and so is the Kniphofia. I love the Aloe, it looks so great growing there.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

  2. Wonderful! I love your Agave attenuata and especially the Aloe polyphylla. Your climate is perfect, it seems. According to Alan Beverly, probably the leading expert on Aloe polyphylla, it has an aggressive root system and needs a larger pot than most people think. No wonder yours has thrived. For more info, go to http://www.ecotree.net/spiral_aloes.shtml.

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  3. Lovely photos as always! The Kniphofia thompsonii is one I'll need to get, and I guess I'd better be planning to up pot my Aloe polyphylla!

  4. Very nice, Boys. I love that Twynings After Eight. 'My List' just got longer!

  5. Thanks Cher! What I like most about that Dahlia is that it carries on flowering until the first frosts zap it down, and it has been hardy too, reliably coming coming back every spring :)

    Thanks Gerhard, and thanks for the link, very very informative! Agave attenuata is one of my top favourite Agaves, it looks so soft and very tactile. Aloe polyphylla does like a free root run and appreciates being overpotted, the link explains it. One I planted out rocketted in growth as soon as it got planted out.

    Loree, I knew you'd like K. thompsonii (although I did wonder if you had one already!) :) Knuphofias are a great genus to explore. This one reminds me more of an aloe.

    Thanks David! This Dahlia should propagate from cuttings too, shame I've ran out of spares, I could have bunged one in the box :)

  6. That Kniphofia thompsonii is beautiful! I have tried to grow them in my parents' garden in Michigan several times but never managed to get them through the winter satisfactorily, even with tons of leaf mulch.

  7. Lovely foliage on the aloe and agave, and I really must put the Twynings After Eight on the list for once we have moved. The colour on the knipholia is wonderful. Happy plant pampering!

  8. I do like the look of that Cassia, I wonder how it would do in the Midlands. I am not growing tender plants any more due to the extreme cold we have had the last two years and a lack of space to overwinter but I am still keen on exotic looking hardy plants

  9. Oh, your dahlia is beautiful and your kniphofia is so lovely and dramatic! I, too, like the opportunity to see each and every plant up close and personal while doing fall and spring chores. I give mine a little pep talk while I'm there!

  10. College Gardener, might be worth trying again in a drier, free draining site in full sun? Glad you like it and it's definitely worth another go :)

    Thanks Janet! Twyning's After Eight is highly recommended as you can tell :)

    Helen, I reckon it'll be fine in your location. Plant it in full sun that gets lots of water in the summer and you'll be rewarded with lush foliage and small yellow flowers in late summer. If sited on shade the growth gets leggy and may not flower at all. I raised this plant from seed which I got from Chiltern Seeds :)

    Holley, I've been enjoying giving certain plants 'one on one care' as I prepare them for winter. And it's not uncommon to give plants a bit of pep talk, especially if you've got no one else for company :)


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