Well, we held off turning on the heating until the 31 October. I’m sure we made it into November last year. Yet the past week has been decidedly nippy and we’ve had at least four frosty mornings. Still, I love frosty mornings. They’re invigorating and feel as though they’re doing the garden some good, helping to keep some of the garden nasties in check.
1. Unfortunately, the frosts signalled an end to some of the colourful summer stars of the garden. The dahlias and zinnias have finally thrown in the towel.
Though just behind the zinnias you can just make out a solitary sweet pea that’s still going.
2. There are some plants in the garden that haven’t taken the slightest bit of notice of these slightly sub-zero temperatures. The antirrhinums, roses, verbena, Erigeron karvinskianus and this scabious are still going strong. There’s even a Californian poppy or two flowering out the front. They’re made of tougher stuff, but eventually their flowers will cease.
However, while most plants are preparing to hunker down for the winter or will soon be joining the great big compost heap in the sky, there are some that are preparing to burst into flower, adding a bit of cheer and even some delicious scent during the dark, winter months ahead.
3. I hadn’t noticed the berries on the Dwarf Sweet Box until the other day. They’re a lovely mixture of crimson and black that look rather nice next to the glossy evergreen foliage.
But when you peer even closer you can make out the flower buds that will open in a few weeks or so and release their strong sweet scent.
4. The Coronilla valentina subsp glauca (catchy name) seemed to be a victim of its own success. Despite being pruned a little each year, by spring it had become rather large and was unable to support its own weight. I tried to prop it up with a stake and some metal plant supports but it was just too top-heavy. It had flowered nonstop throughout the winter and was still flowering when I made the decision to chop it back to the ground in April.
I wasn’t sure it would recover as the gardening books suggest it doesn’t respond well to hard pruning. But it seems to have done it the world of good. And look closely…
… you’ll see it’s about to flower again. It grows by the front door where its scent greets you when you set off for work in the morning and return home in the evening. From what I understand they’re not very long-lived. But when I chopped it back I discovered a few seedlings so I’m hoping we’ll have at least one replacement when this one finally gives up.
5. So far the Lonicera fragrantissima (or winter honeysuckle) is doing okay after the Great Shrub Move of October 2018 and the first of its flowers have just opened. Like the Coronilla, this scented shrub will go on flowering throughout the winter and into spring, providing bees with an early source of nectar.
6. And finally… though it seems a long way off, some plants are already offering a glimpse of what they’ll have to offer next spring. The Vibernum carlesii ‘Compactum’, another wonderfully scented shrub, has started to form small flower buds.
And knowing that they’ll eventually become pink-tinged buds and snow white flowers come late April/Early May will be a rather cheering thought during those damp, dark and chilly winter months.
And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.