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 grey…I 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.
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.
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.
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.