|Succulents in Ham House Urns along the drive at Whichford Pottery|
|Jim's ruin with succulents in the font|
Flourishing in ruins
I have even put them in Jim's 'ruin', where they have thrived. The original ruin was made for a flower show in Japan but Jim has also built one here. The terracotta pieces fit together a bit like Lego and are cemented together. It's amazing what you can do with clay!
|Aeoniums, Echeveria, Kalanchoe and other|
crassulaceae in the Kew Collection
The succulents in Kew pots have filled out nicely. These pots are small enough to grab and run into the greenhouse with when frost is imminent but bigger potfuls will take longer to dismantle. I will leave most of the latter out a little longer as they are looking so good but I am beginning to stow away many of my little treasures; if I have to walk to the greenhouse I make sure that I am carrying a couple of them. I would rather lose a few big plants than have all the little oddities turn to mush.
Despite the warmth Autumn is definitely here. Acorns have been raining down from the young oak trees, which were inexplicably planted between the packing shed and the greenhouse, making alarming bangs on the glass. They are beautiful things and most of us have fond childhood memories of snapping them out of their little cups and fitting them back in again or of making little Oakie Dokes (acorn people).
|Beautiful acorns have been raining down|
I have never seen so many fruits on the spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) in the hedge near the compost heaps. Again, this has been a favourite for me ever since I was a child, partly for the preposterous pink/orange colour combination and partly because one of my favourite books was The Midnight Folk, by John Masefield. In this I found the useful information that witches tether their brooms to spindle to stop them from flying away by themselves. I haven't read the book for a long time of course and really hope that I am remembering this correctly and didn't just dream it.
|Reserved parking. Euonymus europaeus or Spindle at Whichford|
There are sloes in the hedge by the Octagon but I won't be making sloe gin because thirsty blackbirds are gobbling them up. From her lack of fear I guess that this scruffy creature is Mrs B moulting - she did look a bit like she had gone down the chippy with her curlers in.
|"What are you looking at?" Mrs B gobbling sloes|
|Crocus speciosus in a Wisley Seed Pan|
We had a few Crocus speciosus bulbs at the sale in September. I really wish we had ordered more as they were popular so I only kept a few to plant. They are absolutely gorgeous.
I haven't grown this autumn-flowering crocus before but I should have taken more notice of the name, speciosus means showy, handsome, beautiful, splendid...
Hedychium gardnerianum has also been flowering over the last 10 days or so in the courtyard. I love the exotic look of it and the sweet scent. We are lucky that plants like this are kept in check by our frosts - in some countries this has become an invasive weed but here it must be taken under cover for the winter.
Before I forget - here's another Spring Bulb FAQ: How close together do you plant tulips?
It depends on the effect I want and whether the flowers open wide (like a parrot tulip) or stay neat (like Darwin hybrids). If the flowers are neat and I want a solid block of colour or a clump then I plant very close together - but don't let the bulbs touch each other so that fungal infections can't spread too easily. If the flowers are bigger or if other plants and/or bulbs will be planted above them then I usually plant them about 2-3 inches apart. you can space them more widely if you want a less full effect, or plant in clumps with a few spaced more randomly for a "natural" effect.
|This pot will have a fairly dense mass of Tulip 'Rococo'|
|Tulip 'Rococo', Spring 2011|
Above this layer of tulips I have planted two Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow' and two Helleborus niger, plus 'Moonlight Mix' pansies, Narcissus 'Jenny', Muscari latifolium and Crocus 'Jeanne d'Arc'. The tulips will fight their way through it all, never fear.
Photographic fun in the garden
And finally - last weekend there was another of Liz Eddison's garden photography days. I know a good time was had by all because the participants included my oldest friend - and these two suspicious characters hiding behind cameras turned out to be Andy, a senior thrower who has been making pots with Jim since the very beginning 35 years ago, and Lynda, who crafts all the amazing hand-pressed ware, including the elephants.
|Lynda and Andy hide behind their cameras|