I’m back for a Six on Saturday after a break last week when my cousin was over for a visit. Brrrrr, it’s getting chilly out there now. We’ve had a series of dull, drab, cold days, with just one lovely exception when the sun came out on Monday, and the forest beech trees were resplendent in copper and gold against a bright blue sky (above). By contrast, the garden vibe is one of decay, senescence and death. I feel like I’m in a doomed relationship, keeping going with a spot of halfhearted gardening, but knowing that it’s almost over. Here are six things, good, bad and ugly, to show you this week:
1 Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) harvest. This one comes from the allotment. They’re going to get a really good wash, and then I’ll make them into little rostis, like fried potato cakes, with almond flakes, rosemary and chilli. Known as topinambour in French, they are quite popular in Belgium and often seen growing in allotments. We left some tubers in the ground to grow next year – such a low-maintenance crop.
Since writing this on Friday afternoon, I did actually make the rostis. Et voilà:
2 Ferns in urns. These Italian pots have featured here a few times, with various contents. Their pot-bellied shape means it’s best to use plastic pots within them otherwise whatever is planted inside would never come out. For this season, I’ve gone with a couple of evergreen ferns.
3 Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). These are deciduous, and look terrible at this time of year. Not much to be done about it, but I did remove a few from under the arch to make way for some creamy-coloured tulips, ‘Cream Cocktail’. I have visions of the soft green newly-emerging ferny foliage contrasting nicely with the tulips, so come back here in spring and I’ll show you a prettier picture!
4 Viburnum carlesii. This can be seen photobombing to the right of the ferns above. Attention-seeking: a great quality in plants, an irritating one in humans. It’s getting one more look-in before the last of its leaves tumble to the ground.
5 Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius). I was dismayed to see that this handsome plant, that had made an impressive clump and was the late-winter star of my garden, suddenly appeared to collapse in a heap, with blacked foliage. This happened a couple of weeks ago, when the plant was developing lots of promising flower buds. I cut back the worst of the damaged-looking stems, and am encouraged to see new leaves emerging. I can’t imagine what is wrong with it, except that here in the glade conditions are pretty tough (dry; big overhanging trees directly overhead). Any theories? A virus maybe?
6 Crab apple (Malus ‘Evereste’). It remains to be seen whether this one can cope in the glade. Perhaps it would have been better off in the centre of the lawn, but that is still contested territory, where horticultural incursions are strongly resisted by other members of my family. So before a strategic land invasion can be contemplated, it has got to toughen it out here. Planted this spring, it has produced a little crop of these Lilliputian apples.
The birds haven’t gone for the crab apples yet, but I was happy to see a blackbird nibbling at the Pyracantha berries – one of the reasons I chose a couple of these thorny berry-laden shrubs was to provide some natural food for birds in the garden. A less welcome wildlife incursion was the digging up of Narcissi and Muscari bulbs in a large planter, the only one without chicken-wire protection. I’d planted some violas and ajuga on top, and thought this would be enough of a deterrent, but the squirrels were not fooled. I suppose at least it got me out into the garden on a rainy morning. I doubt I’ll be doing much gardening this weekend – too cold – it’s time to light the fire and eat rostis instead.
That’s all for this week, more gardens from all over the world can be seen as always on The Progagator’s site. Happy gardening to those so inclined!