Blog Header

Blog Header

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Decay and new life in the November garden

Autumn is supposed to be a good time to get on with many garden jobs; this is the best time for moving plants due to the soil still remaining warm and allowing the roots to settle in before winter gets a hold. However when your weather goes from ridiculously dry to sopping wet, just when exactly are you supposed to do these jobs? Obviously during the time I was away in England!

In the less than two weeks that we've been back there's been plenty of rain, the lawns are now lush and green but it's too wet to mow, fallen leaves are too wet to either rake up or collect with the mower, but due to reasonably mild temperatures the weeds in the veggie patch have gone crazy! At long last there is autumn colour in the leaves and there are still flowers and plenty of veggies to eat, not to mention far too many apples. We've given away bagsful to neighbours and stored as many as we have room for in the garage, and I've collected, dried and bagged up nearly 2,000 walnuts (yes, I counted!).

The weather makes me feel rather blase about what needs doing and I'm probably not alone in not feeling much like getting out there doing stuff. I did manage to dig up a few of the perennial plants from my Pollinators Meadow which I want to keep, but as I don't know where I'm going to put them yet I've just planted them up in pots and hope they survive through winter like that. I'll worry about it all next year! I have cleared a strip of weeds and readied it for planting out my garlic, and am halfway through cutting out the old blackberry canes and trying to tie in metres of new canes to the wires, which is a job and a half. Most of this dressed in waterproofs, as even if it wasn't raining, everything is dripping wet!   

Blighted tomatoes. They'll still be blighted next week/month,
so where's the hurry to clear up?

View of the veg patch, a bit of a messy weedy jungle but still productive, although I have
still not got round to staking up my PSB which got blown about by the storm!

The annuals have flopped over due to rain and wind, but I love this carpet of flat leafed parsley
which is covering the area where I left a parsley to flower during the summer.
I may dig some up and put it in a pot in the cold frame and see if they survive.

Still?!! Bloody things just won't stop...... :-)
No seriously, I do think this is the last one. I ought to pick it!

Taken at the weekend when we had a bit of sun.
Top are Borage flowers and below left, Rocket and right, Coriander flowers.

The Year 2 Pollinator Meadow is still flowering!

One good reason not to tidy up too soon, and to stop deadheading the Cosmos.
These Goldfinches love the seed.

Away from the veggie patch, the stream started flowing again and the lake is already full! I had to spend an afternoon in the stream bed on the other side of the fence removing loads of fallen dead wood that I didn't want washed up against my perimeter fence, and my OH found yet another hole to repair to try to keep out coypu and foxes.

Ducks now with a little cover over their food,
as their pellets were turning to porridge in the rain.

Out in the ornamental gardens there are still some flowers hanging on in there because we have yet to have a frost.

Bidens, which usually happily stands upright, is now flopping over
the lawn due to the winds and storm whilst we were away.

My smaller Yucca, a baby that I transplanted years ago,
has its first flower bud! A bit late and it may never come to anything.

Some plants that have finished flowering still look good as seed heads despite the weather throwing everything at them.

Garlic Chive (Allium tuberosum) seed heads looking attractive.

I think the Goldenrod (Solidago) looks better now
than when it was in bloom. Its flowering period is far too short
so I'm not entirely sure I really want it in the garden at all.
Yet the pollinating insects love it, and it's still upright after the storm,
so I think it wins a reprieve.

Onto autumn colours. A week ago not a lot was changing other than some of my shrubs and trees planted specifically for autumn foliage colour. Yet suddenly in the last few days the general colour in the garden has gone from green tinged with dirty brown to a far more pleasant overall rich golden colour. I took these pictures six days ago and a lot's changed already since then!

My precious Cercis Canadensis 'Forest Pansy' changes colour
very early so by now there are very few leaves left at all.

Whilst the Smoke Bushes, such as this Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple',
are in their element right now.

And at last my wonderful Liquidambar has gone from
sad looking pale yellow leaves dropping due to drought,
to the beginnings of its true 'fall' colours.

Finally, you know me by now, I can never resist a butterfly! Over the weekend there were some periods of sunshine, and sure enough, out came some hardy butterflies. I saw three different species and decided I needed to capture perhaps my last butterfly of the year, this lovely Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). (Even though I already have hundreds of photos of them taken over the last few years!)

Oh so tatty and desperate to feel the sun on its wings.

It did have a little feed on this Verbena bonariensis that had flopped over
onto the gravel, but was more interested in just sitting sunning itself.
I really can't blame it!

Some dry but cooler weather is forecast from tomorrow onwards and even some sun, so I'm hoping to get more done outside. We have a 'tree man' coming to do some work clearing some dead trees and thinning some others out, plus pruning our huge Leylandii hedges, so dry weather is just what we need right now!


  1. Yes there's alway stuff going on behind the scenes... with wildlife of course. I leave seed heads also to feed the birds, etc. Wow! on the walnuts! Such yummy treasures! Thanks for sharing Mandy! I always love your photos :)

    1. Thank you Miss Lady Bug, so pleased you like my photos and seeing what's going on in my garden. I've seen quite a few birds eating seeds already - they also like the coneflower seeds too. I'll be making your spicy walnut butter one of these days, when I've cracked enough of them!

  2. Loved the tour, Mandy! What a photographically rewarding garden you have! I used to deadhead all the time until one year when I was behind on my duties and then happily noticed goldfinches going crazy over them. Seems I should have known that :-)

    1. Thanks Marianne! A lot of it looks a completely unphotogenic mess right now but probably no different from most gardens in November having been blown about and flopping all over the place from rain. I've just lost an apple tree from wind which is a real shame. :-(
      But in between the messy bits there are beautiful bits! I agree about the deadheading - I do deadhead to start with but let it all go towards the end of the season. Finches are eating the coneflower seeds too.

  3. So sorry about the apple tree!

    Re the photo ops: To quote Confucius ..."There is beauty in everything but not everyone sees it". I think you definitely see it :-)

    Re you, I do it up to the point where I know there's no more growth or the season is "supposed" to be over and then let it go to seed. Unrelated to birds, this is also good for a butterfly garden. A friend who has a fantastic b-fly garden shows me Chrysalis all over her garden and they are typically high in the dead stuff. It always amazes my how far caterpillars will crawl to start the process! It also makes me wonder how many I might have killed :-(

    I can't believe it's almost time but I'll say it.......Happy Holidays!

    1. Nooooo don't mention that dreaded C word, I can't even begin to think about it until December, lol!! But I guess your holidays start in November with Thanksgiving and then carry on until Christmas? Or maybe you are just referring to Thanksgiving?

      Exhausted because the tree man is back again today finishing off but I'm glad to say the weeping willow damage has been dealt with professionally and we've been hauling branches about a lot over the last week up to the giant chipper he has. I'll do a blog post about it as I took a load of photos this morning of him up the willow tree.

      As for the dead stuff that may have chrysalises - I never thought about that. I've been finding chrysalises of our Small and Large Whites (Cabbage Whites) on the metal walls of the barn! I do wonder where my Swallowtail cats that were in the veggie patch went.... Thing is all that dead stuff has to come out so that it can be dug over and prepped for next year. I'll try to have a quick look at everything I clear up before it gets composted or shredded, but time is a bit of an issue there. :-/

  4. Lovely autumnal photos Mandy and I see you've a cercis too. It's one of my favourite trees through struggles to grow in our colder temps. I wish I had room for a liquidamber! The colours of those leaves are just superb. I discovered how pretty rocket flowers were last year and deliberately let them seed for those flowers.

    1. Hi Rosie! Is your Cercis a siliquastrum (Judas Tree)? I've just looked that one up and hadn't realised it was native to Southern Europe and Asia, whereas mine is native to eastern N. America so I guess it must be used to both cold winters and hot summers. Mum has a Judas Tree in her Somerset garden and it does really well, but it's obviously warmer than Perthshire. It'll be quite a while before it becomes a tree rather than a small shrub but at least the Liquidambar is about 12 feet tall now after about 7 years - I bought it as a small and cheap specimen from a supermarket!

      I leave the rocket to grow as much as it likes over winter and cut bits back and hang them up for the hens to peck the leaves off. It's pretty hardy and is still flowering now.

      Again, thanks for visiting and commenting! :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. Greetings from Paris

    1. Bonjour et merci beaucoup - very nice of you to comment. :-)