April 22, 2012
Does it get much better than this?
Freddie’s Dam seen from the Bridge.
On the left the flowering cherry Prunus ‘Tai Haku’ with a purple Japanese maple ( Acer Palmatum ‘Atropurpurea Group’ ) beyond it.
From the right the rounded shapes of Berberis and Acer palmatum don’t yet show much colour. The orange is Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo) next to a yellow Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood), and behind them Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum) is getting into its stride, at this stage still mainly yellow. The highest trees are Quercus palustris (Pin Oak).
Acer forrestii with the Big House reflected in the Makou Dam
Collected by the famous plant collector George Forrest in China in 1906, this is a beautiful small tree with spectacular autumn foliage. I love the way the canna bed across the dam .picks up these colours for a few short days in late April each year.
Acer forrestii in close-up
One of our most special trees!
Japanese Maple in the Arboretum
i wander up into the arboretum where every turn now brings a composition of its own. But this shot sets the theme: photograph the tree trunkss, not the details…
This picture of a crabapple in the arboretum (Malus floribunda) reinforces the concept, even though it says little about autumn…
At the top end of The Avenue, a Tulip Tree (Liliodendron tulipifera)
Acers in the arboretum
Close-up of Acer rubrum, the Red Maple, seen in the photo above.
Back to the Tulip Trees in The Avenue, which can be seen marching up the hill in my previous post.
In fact, here we are looking back towards the house from where I took that picture…
And from a little further along, we look down on The House that Jack Built
Here it is again, from lower down…
And finally, here we are again near where we started: under the oak on Freddie’s Dam, just in front of The House that Jack Built.
April 20, 2012
A thought: I have always been irritated by puns and alliteration in headings to articles, especially in garden magazines. Why am I so intent then on perpetrating this aberration? Perhaps because ‘Autumn gathers momentum’ is a little lame…? But to illustrate my theme, here are four near identical compositions taken on the 7th, 14th, 18th and 20th of this month.
In the last photo Lucas Letsoalo, my foreman, is wondering through the garden at midday, collecting seed. Although right here I think he is proudly admiring a somewhat belated summer feature. We sowed a packet of striped zinnia seed I wanted to experiment with, together with eight or so bedraggled dahlia tubers found in the back of a cupboard, and due to have been planted in October. This was in late January or even February…
Three of the dahlias survived and are in flower. After feeling iffy about the zinnias when they started blooming, they have now grown on me. It must be six or eight years since we bought in zinnia seed, and our crop has gradually stood up less well to inspection; one of the reasons I bought the striped seeds. Meanwhile I have been marking local dahlias, most the descendants of ones planted 50 years ago in the village, for begging, stealing and propagating from next year. I want a dahlia wow. One of my staff brought me three plants last month of a wine-red pom-pom grown by the thousands in the local rural townships, all possibly descended from one plant. Talk about cottage gardening in the true sense of the word! I had commented on how lovely they were when I took them home on a Friday afternoon. Besides – I remember peering over a garden wall on tip-toe (the wall must have been all of 80cm -2 1/2 feet – high) and standing enthralled before just such a pompom… I digress.
In search of a late summer splash, I am looking at combining the dahlias and zinnias. This is what this little experiment is about. Jewel colours…
Zinnias, of all flowers, have always to me had the most beautiful colours. Is it an aberration to stripe them?… I have yet to decide.
Rather lovely, this one…
Hmmm…. perhaps a bit busy?
Ho-hum… or no: I think I like it!
Oh come on. Nothing is quite as grey as a white zinnia. And you call those STRIPES!?!
Now that’s rather lovely! But hey – we’re talking stripes.Where are they? Or is that picotee? Wait a moment. This is an autumn post. Not a planning-late-summer-one…
On a walk through the arboretum the maples are magnificent; the red in the foreground is Acer palmatum, the yellow is A. saccharinum – Japanese and Silver maples. Below is A. rubrum – the Red maple, against a Japanese maple.
Under the pin-oaks in Oak Avenue, against a backdrop of hydrangeas and at this stage still towering over a young indigenous tree-fern (Cyathea gregii) stands a super-elegant Japanese maple. I’m pretty certain that composition is unique in the world!
And talking hydrangeas – take a look at these beautifully bleached blue ones, from the mass at the end of the Beech axis, seen against the Silver Maples we saw in an earlier photo.
And very good with red – Cornus florida in this case…
Well, I could carry on – falling (as it were) into an ever more colourful autumn adulation. Perhaps it is time to stop and head for bed
April 7, 2012
Good title. First thought: I need to get into the garden and take autumn cuttings, especially of plants that might not survive a bad winter. But there is much more to it than that.
For weeks I’ve been eyeing autumn’s slow approach, a sunny lightening of the leaves long before it could be called yellow. Time to blog about autumn. Time to blog. And gradually the yellows grew and were joined by reds. These two photos I took this morning, the first framed by our exclamation marks, from the guest room. After several cold nights autumn is well and truly upon us.
The Tulip Trees march up The Avenue, and on the road below them the Silver Maples are red. Where did the summer go? Has there ever been a summer where I was so absent from my garden? At the beginning of summer I bought MountainGetaways, and we published the first magazine just after I finished my teaching career. This year I learnt all about webpage design and rebuilt the website from scratch. And we published the second magazine. This month we relaunched the website – and those who are observant will notice the new logo up in the top right corner of my blog, which will take you to the site.
Here is a picture from late March. March was an amazing month on the blog. I posted the grand total of two posts – never before so few in a month. Yet I had almost exactly 50% more traffic than in my second best month ever, and that was two years ago. It seems the more the host is absent, the more the visitors come to stay… There’s a conundrum for you!
I have posted pics of this very plant before, but always in winter. It is Leonitus ocymifolia. It is about time for a flowery view on it. (This, by the way, was intended for a Wildflower Wednesday post – about ten days ago…)
Like most of the wildings I post on, it really grows wild on Sequoia. This one just happened to have been moved into the garden twenty odd years ago. It is a great joy.
There. Not too many words. I am tired; supremely, happily tired. I shall post this and then sit back tonight with my new book –the biography Christopher Lloyd – His life at Great Dixter.