The overwhelming impression at the moment is of autumn, warming up like an old Alfa, before roaring off impressively. (OK, if you don’t get that image, it’s rather boyish for a gardening blog…) This is the view from the living room window. In the foreground the Ellensgate Garden is aligned perfectly with the living room; beyond that the wisteria-covered pergola in the Anniversary Garden, to the left the junipers that flank the axis from the front door. The blue flowers that featured two weeks ago are in the foreground, and the orange crocosmia in the Ellensgate Garden immediately behind them. But to show you those two colours will mean blowing every other colour out of the water. Perhaps try enlarging the photo…
April 8, 2011
November 21, 2009
I’ve been asked about my red foliage and my roses, so I’ll identify my roses in this post and tell you a little more about other plants. And I’ll take you to a number of other spots around the garden, but let’s start again in the Beech Borders.
All the roses you see here I grew from cuttings from stock first planted in the Rondel Garden in 1996. From left to right they are: the bright pink of the Damask rose Ispahan (early 1800s) which featured often in the previous post. A few blooms of the Bourbon rose Mme Ernst Calvat (1888) peek out from behind it and look rather similar. The pale pink is New Dawn, one of the best climbers of all time. In 1930 it sported as a repeat-flowering version of a 1910 introduction – one of the most fascinating rose sports of all time, as for the rest they are identical. To its right the rich pink of the Gallica Belle de Crecy(+-1850s) All these roses are wonderfully scented. Towards the back, more Ispahan. The red shrub is Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea and the pink flowered shrub which I love to mix with roses is Spirea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’. They too are grown from cuttings; when you garden on this scale doing your own propagation is necessary ! The background is a row of seven now mature Acer palmatum (Japanese maples – a glorious sight in autumn) and to the right is Acer davidii, one of the snake-bark maples.
My nephews aged 16 and 14 were here from Namibia last week. They crept down to The Embarkment to get to the water with good grace. They knew that cutting the plants that had fallen across the path was out of the question – an Abelia x grandiflora and two roses: the common moss rose Rosa centifolia muscosa (before 1700) and the Four Seasons White Moss Quatre saisons blanc mousseux (1835)
Another of these impressively named roses holds its own across the water after (I must admit) being dumped there some years ago when the area was much more open in the hope it would survive. To its left Acer palmatum atropurpureum with Rhododendron luteum and Exochorda x macrantha below and Salix babylonica ‘Crispa’, the lovely Ram’s Horn Willow to its right.
Here is a view of my house through the Four Seasons Whie Moss, the camera held above my head. If nothing else this photo proves that it was not pruned last year, but survives quite happily nonetheless! ‘Four Seasons’ is a bit of an exaggeration – it repeat flowers slightly in autumn. Which was, of course, very unusual when it was first introduced…
Whilst on the far side of the dam, a view of my house and yes, my vehicle: a Malaysian designed Toyota Condor 4×4 diesel: it works like a slave, can carry 7 passengers or a load of plants or cement or even take a full-sized mattress when I go camping. Irreplaceable, it has been superseded by vehicles that are hopelessly too sophisticated and expensive to play such a multi-purpose role! (Anyone from Toyota reading this??) White climbing Iceberg roses (1968 – had to add a date for this modern classic!) grow left and right onto my house, with a Clematis montana adding to the show on the right. Overhanging the dam at the entertainment area are two Félicité et Perpétue roses, a lovely old climber from 1827. Penelope, a Hybrid Musk from 1924, graces the Cottage Garden below the Condor.
Here is another view across the Cottage Garden to where we have just been; the green rod in the right quarter has me baffled. I suspect it is a rather potent Watsonia – but it will come as a wonderful surprise when it flowers. (No, I’m NOT going to identify the trees to the right of the willow right now!)
Near the garage the Wichuraiana rambler Excelsa scrambles up into a pine; wonderful if the mildew doesn’t do too much harm to it!
As I’ve said before, the Rondel Garden, home to my original old-fashioned roses, commemorating Sissinghurst in its name and Francois in its existence, is in need of serious replanning… This is Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’. I’ve never seen a single one of the famed flagon-shaped hips on it. Climate? Or just my bad luck to have an infertile strain? Iceberg on the house.
Still in the Rondel, Pink Grootendorst (A Dutch surname meaning ‘big thirst’ – there are three members in the rugosa family!) has flowers frilled like a carnation and dates from 1923. To its left in the rugosa bed is Frau Dagmar Hastrup from 1914. Prunus cerasifera in one of its many forms provides a plummy background.
We now move to the end of the wisteria arbour in the Anniversary Garden where the Polyantha climber Veilchenblau (1909) lives up to its name which means ‘Blue veil’. Below it the wonderfully subtle strawwy yellows of Buff Beauty (a shrubby climber from 1939) can be seen. Veilchenblau is beginning to climb up into the Japanese maple. I can’t wait to see the effect five years from now!
I planted New Dawn in the Upper Rosemary Border by mistake, thinking it something else. It has scrambled about, reaching for the sun through the thick planting of smallish shrubs, and set off especially well against Abelia x grandiflora. The species Rosa rugosa has been a mixed blessing next to it, suckering whenever the roots are damaged during cultivation. However the flowers are a perfect colour match with Spirea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’ and the rose flowers continuously, later producing startling orange hips at the same time as its magenta flowers. I enjoy the unsubtle colour mix and the birds enjoy the food. Win-win, I’d say.
Here is another view, taken from the Rosemary Terrace; I’ve written enough and you’ve read enough. No more details on the planting.
This is the first year I’ve even noticed the Tausendschön (Thousand beauties, 1906, a Polyantha climber) in the purple crab-apple. It must be five or more years since I planted it there. It repeat flowers in a good spot. This can’t be one. But it will grow through the tree and in years to come give greater joy.
Gosh, this walk is exhausting me! We are now up in the arboretum where I planted a number of tough roses some six or more years ago. The rather garish pink was incorrectly marked ‘Compassion’ but has proved itself to be tough alright. Behind it is South Africa. I will sing its praises (the best rose since Iceberg???) in a future post. A single flower is all that can be seen of Rosa chinensis mutabilis about which I will tell you more when I post close-ups soon.
And so down we go and across the Makou Dam to the old stone barn. Tausendschön, the mother plant of many on the mountain, absolutely loves this sunny spot where I planted it nearly 20 years ago. Beyond it another repeat-flowering pink rambler-like climber grows on the fence of the vegetable garden. I’ve known this rose all my life here on the farm and in neighbouring gardens. Unlike most climbers – and definitely most ramblers – it has an incredibly long season, being one of the first in bloom and carrying on right into winter. It is very happy here where it steals the sun from the veggies, happier than its mother plant, and being a sucker for charm and beauty I allow it to keep pride of place.
We end our walk (pant, pant) at Trudie’s Garden outside the big house, where I reiterate what I said at the beginning of the previous post: I like roses where they can grow as huge as they like and flop over complimentary shrubs and be voluptuous and abandoned. This might be a rather more elegant lady, a prim and sophisticated hybrid tea called Germiston Gold, but she too benefits from the arm of a dapper shrub to show off her assets…
October 11, 2009
Someone asked for more pics of wisterias… and I have long wanted to consolidate my wisteria photos into a story – so here goes! Most of our wisterias we grew from seed, taken from a plant which was the off-spring (clonal, I think) of one at the family farm which was originally planted in the early 1900s. We grew them because we – my dad and I – had just discovered the joy of germination on the farm and well: because they were there! Wisterias carry long velvety seedpods with big seeds that call out “good with beginners”!
These first two photos are in fact the last I took. This particular plant, incredibly robust, covers a camphor tree and the adjacent pin oak, which is just visible beyond the camellia on the right. It has completely swamped the small pergola built for it between the two trees and has set off through the adjacent shrubbery, where last year we realised that it was leaning too heavily on a flowering dogwood and twenty assorted shrubs. I was looking at it yesterday and thinking that it needed further curtailing. The blue spikes below it are Scilla natalensis, a bulb which grows wild on Sequoia. The netting is to protect it and the young roses from the deer (more correctly buck – duiker and bush buck). Early in the season when food is scarce they love to nibble on fresh rose foliage and the blue firework flower stalks.
Here it is in close-up. Definitely; this year we will search for rooted cuttings amongst its meanderings. It is floriferous, with good colour and long racemes, and the fact that it is two weeks later than most can only be an advantage. I will plant it in the huge old mother-pine where its sister’s dumpy flowers are over before the yellow banksia rose gets under way.
Every year I have to act the contortionist just to get the yellow and mauve into the same frame. The banksia was planted by a friend’s mother as a young woman. When their yard was subdivided, he offered me the huge old root ball. Within three years it proved a good investment, worth transporting 350km (over 200 miles) to its new home!
Today I went and took this photo specially. The banksia flowers 10 meters up into the tree. The wisteria reaches twice as high and will eventually climb to the top of the tree – but no longer has a single flower. Now imagine the banksia combined with the day before yesterday’s sprawling giant…
The next example I think is a brother; a sprawling good-for-nothing brat, a disgrace to the family name; why he has not been disinherited I do not know! He grew right here from a root in what used to be the nursery holding area. As a result he was a bit neglected as a child. Surrounded by trees (some of which have subsequently been removed), he didn’t have one of his own to look up to – and so he was left to his own devices and became a scruffy introvert. The brown behind him is an unsuccessful rescue job (just as well, considering where it was planted), a conifer from a terracotta pot that I valued more than its occupant. Beyond, an assortment of conifers including a gawky ginkgo not yet in leaf. The area to the right is the future Sage’s Walk, a path through a collection of salvias (in sun) and plectranthus (in shade) culminating in the azalea crescent in the distance. It is also the area where most of my collection of seed-grown pink deciduous azaleas are concentrated. Their twiggy outlines add to the general scruffiness, but by this morning they too were coming into flower!
We now move to an area up on the boundary below the neighbour’s gum plantation across from my house, where many of the seedlings were planted just to get rid of them. Bear in mind that it takes up to ten years for a seed-grown wisteria to flower. That is according to several sources I’ve just consulted. The figure I remember is seven, and my first ones flowered at five years if I remember correctly. It was a convenient spot to dump them while we waited. Out of sight proved to be out of mind, and not one of them was ever moved. They are a motley collection, mostly disappointing and can easily be grubbed out if something better comes along. However one of them, visible in the centre, will still make me my fortune (he said wishfully.)
This wisteria’s flowers are of good but not spectacular colour, but their length and grace is exceptional. What really makes this plant unusual though is that it chose to be a tree rather than a climber. From a young age it had a sturdy, self-supporting stem. As time passed it became clear why: the space between nodes is compressed. This has a further advantage: the magnificent trusses are carried close together, so that the flowers literally hang like a beaded curtain…
Here you can see my wisteria tree, al the way from its stem to its spectacular flowers. On the left an altogether less impressive sibling grovels before my Joseph’s Coat (hmmm: Wisteria ‘Joseph’s Coat’ - it has a ring to it!) In addition to its typically short flowering season , it is most beautifully hung with silver-brown velvet pods for many months of the year, some of which can still be seen in this photo!
If the tree wisteria is my most important specimen, this one is my most successful. It grows over the pump-house (I have to stoop slightly to fit under that green cross-beam) and the surrounding trees. To the left foreground lies my water-lily pond. I have a dream of building a deck and a pergola over the edge of the water to support the wisteria and its reflection… but that will relate to developing Sequoia Gardens as a tourist destination in years to come!
To give you an idea of the setting, here is a picture taken this morning; the wisteria is spent, but the first water-lilies are in bloom! To the left an indigenous tree fern is stretching out its 2 meter fronds, at this stage still rolled and golden. And as I tend to interrupt myself when speaking, why not do so here? So here’s a bonus pic :
As the pump-house wisteria is all round my best example, and the flowers hang conveniently low, here are a few close-ups and flower studies.
Each pea-flower is perfection in itself.
And then a bee arrived to complete the photo-shoot!
Just about the only wisterias not propagated on Sequoia are the matching clones planted in the Anniversary Garden. Their tresses are disappointingly short, but born profusely and richly coloured. If it was not a five year project – at least – I would replace them though with cuttings from the pump-house. This photo you have seen in a previous post.
To end off – a romantic shot of a carpet of wisteria flowers and a yellow iris; one of those shots that make me feel I have achieved my objective in the Anniversary Garden!
September 22, 2009
I know I know I know my last two posts were also about the Wisteria Arbour, but of all the myriad flowers in my garden at the moment – blossoms, azaleas, rhododendrons and even the first roses, it is the wisterias that give me the most pleasure!
I peered through Alfred’s Arches to get this view, photostitched from two vertical shots. It helps give some idea of the unusual shape of the arbour. Talking of arbour – I’d been wondering what the difference is between an arbour and a pergola. Then the October issue of Fine Gardening arrived all the way from America. (www.finegardening.com) There Brady Halverson explains that an arbour is like a doorway, a pergola is like a ceiling and a trellis is like a wall. How simple! That definitely makes this an arbour, even once the wisterias have grown to cover the structure more fully for, as he explains, “An arbour with a deep passageway adds to the sense of arrival that comes with passing through it, comparable to arriving in a home through a foyer rather than simply entering a door.” That helps me to understand why I enjoy this design so much!