California Dreaming (6 on Saturday)

California Dreaming (6 on Saturday)

One of my favourite songs is California Dreaming, by the Mamas and the Papas. I find it comforting to sing along to as the days get shorter, darker, greyer: All the leaves are brown, and the sky is greyI went for a walk on a winter’s day….but winter’s not quite here yet, and the leaves are not yet all brown. In fact, they are red, copper, golden…and from the photos for this week’s Six on Saturday, you’ll note that the sky is blue. I’ll be California dreaming soon, but not quite yet.

To be honest, I haven’t had much time for dreaming, as things have got very busy at work, plus I’ve decided to finally take the plunge and sign up for the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Level 2 certificate, which means I’ll have lots of studying to do! It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for a while, as I’d like to offer some gardening courses for beginners to expats here in Brussels. It might help me sound like I know what I’m talking about! I’ll have to play close attention to those Latin names, cultivars etc. Yikes, that’s going to be hard. Tips from RHS graduates would be much appreciated! Starting as I mean to go on then:

1 Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea, or Copper Beech, is most definitely not a drab brown. My neighbour’s trees (looks like one, in fact is four grouped together) provides a great view from my office window at the top of the house. A magnificent tree all year round.

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea

2 Viburnum carlesii. Onto humbler autumn colour in my own garden, this Koreanspice Viburnum, whose cultivar name I am in total ignorance of, is turning red. The orange-flowered Tithonia to its right is really on its last legs now, and I think I’ll take it out soon, but I’m definitely going to sow more next spring, it has been a great performer for me in this garden. So this corner is going to look a bit bare pretty soon.

Viburnum carlesii

3 Viburnum opulus. My plan is that this new Viburnum will grow to more statuesque proportions and then create a nice dual effect with the colour of the Viburnum carlesii above. They are close to each other – you can see the Tithonia stems next to the new V. opulus – and visible from the house windows. Not much to look at right now, but one day! The V. opulus has the added allure of red berries which usually hang on well into winter in attractive clusters.

Viburnum opulus

4 Pennisetum setaceum ‘fireworks’. Some more red here from the pretty striped leaves, and some wonderfully tactile seedheads, like rabbits’ tails (or perhaps fox’s tails as they’re longer -but rabbit’s tails are surely softer?). I’ve been warned by Fred a French Gardener that this grass is not hardy and I worry about losing it. So I’ll give it a good bracken mulch and hope for the best. Apparently it does not set viable seed, more’s the pity.

5 Hosta of unknown lineage, with Heuchera ‘Caramel’ and Ferns. I do hope that I don’t have to learn the Latin names of too many ferns, as I’ve tried before and they slip out of my mind like water through a sieve. I can tell you that these are the Shuttlecock or Ostrich fern. You really want the Latin name? Oh alright then, I’ll indulge myself in the vain hope I’ll remember this one: Matteuccia is a genus of ferns with one species, Matteuccia struthiopteris. If I was a scholar of Ancient Greek, I’d know that the species epithet struthiopteris means ostrich in Ancient Greek. These deciduous ferns are dying back now, and I’ll need to do some serious thinning out, as they spread enthusiastically here.

6 Canna indica, or Canna lily. I’ll end with a really vibrant splash of red. I brought the pot indoors a couple of weeks ago, as I was fearful of frost when we were away on holiday, and it’s rewarded me with this generous flower spike. I’ve never grown Cannas before, so could anyone advise me what to do once it’s finished flowering? Keep it growing in the house, or cut it back and put in a cooler location, like our cellar?

Not much time for gardening today, and it’s been rather wet, but I did manage to plant up a big pot of tulips (Request and Negrita) earlier this week. Some baby strawberry plants also got moved to their new home on the shed roof, in crates that originally transported oranges and lemons, so I hope they like it up there. Other than that, it’s leaves, leaves, leaves….so many to clear. The consolation is last year’s leaves have made this year’s leaf mould, gorgeous stuff which I’ve been using in pots with bulbs and to mulch here and there, and I’ve kept half a bag back to use to make seed compost next spring. This feels wonderfully cyclical, so I try to think of the falling leaves as a kind of harvest.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday – there’s plenty more to see on his site. Have a great weekend.

25 thoughts on “California Dreaming (6 on Saturday)

  1. First of all, I wish you every success with obtaining your RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Level 2 certificate. So you really dive into studying. It is logical that blogging is then at a somewhat lower level.
    Fortunately, there won’t be so much work in your garden in the coming weeks 🙂

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  2. Some gorgeous fiery colors here. Your viburnums are beautiful. The only one I have in the garden is v. Lantana which is nowhere near as colorful. Do the tithonia not self-seed? I love the colour but am not keen on the idea of sowing them every year as I don’t usually have much success. I used to dream about California but I tend to dream of cooler places nowadays 😉. Good luck with your new studies.

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    1. Thanks Judith, I really like viburnums and have 3 different ones in my garden now but not Lantana. I don’t think the Tithonia self-seed but I could be wrong, it’s my first year with them – I find that juicy seedlings always get eaten by slugs in spring so mollycoddling is the only sure path to success 🙂

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  3. I love thinking of falling leaves as a harvest. I also have a canna growing inside, though it doesn’t seem partifularly happy about this arrangement. I look forward to hearing about your RHS course – congratulations on taking the plunge.

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  4. Wow to the Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea (copied and pasted as I would never remember that!) Funnily enough I started the RHS Level 2 course back at the end of September (an online evening class) I’m trying to learn the easier Latin names of plants in my own garden in the hope they stick.

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    1. What a coincidence! I’m doing mine with RBGE online, when are your first exams? Are you enjoying it so far? Good idea re trying to learn the plant names of your own garden first, I will try that – I am always having to look the names of ones I ought to know by now for Six on Saturday! 😆

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  5. I wish you every success in your studies. I’m sure it will be very rewarding. You have chosen some lovely Autumn highlights. The colours are gorgeous.
    I put my Cannas in the greenhouse over winter, and cut them back. The green leafed ones come through well; the dark leafed ones less so. I think its because I let them dry out completely, whereas I should have let them have a little moisture.
    I love that song, which is now stuck in my head.

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    1. Good luck with your course. Though NOT an RHS graduate, my tip is Post-it notes to jot down the Latin and common names immediately, and an A-Z index Notebook to enter the info and cross reference alphabetically. I find I retain information if I physically write it down rather than just reading it. Also large-size Index cards have room for a photo and info. I use 8 X 5 inch ones for my OU course revision, extracting bullet points from study modules.

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  6. Best wishes with the RHS thing! Keep singing – that’s my best advice. Re cannas: some are left in the ground here but spares/back-up plants are kept in the glasshouse for winter. The special ones are brought into the glasshouse. Some too big to move, big pots, are simply left outside and have been fine for years and years…mild winters here.

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    1. Really interesting that your Cannas make it though winters in the ground or in pots. You’re milder than we are, though we can have mild winters the last one saw temperatures of -15 degrees C which I don’t think would be at all comfortable for Cannas. Good advice re the singing!

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      1. -15C would close the country here. The worse I’ve ever experienced or heard of was 2010/11 was -10C and that caused devastation in the garden with dozens of cannas and dahlias killed. We hardly had a frost last winter so very different conditions here.

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  7. Oh, congratulations on taking the RHS step. Being from the antipodes, I don’t know much about it, but it sounds both challenging and rewarding. I had a Penesetum in my garden but it was terribly frost bitten and never really came back the following spring, so I removed it and vowed not to try again. It was a shame because they do look lovely in their featheriness.
    The copper beech is a splendid view to have whilst studying!

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  8. What an amazing view you have of that tree clump – and from your office window! What a great distraction that would be for me, seeing that clump of trees! Lucky you! Well done on signing up for the RHS course! I am sure you are going to thoroughly enjoy the course!

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  9. We’ve never brought the cannas indoors to keep flowering. Most are spent by mid-October. Mary Beth digs the tubers, cuts off the stems, and keeps them in picnic coolers filled with peat in a cool location…our garage. Once spring returns and all chances for frost are gone she takes them out and allows them to start sprouting before planting with her dahlias.

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