Pond Border #1

The garden is looking a little tired and cold now. The pond border is largely bleached of colour, enlivened by the evergreen leaves of the Hellebores and the impressively tough snapdragons which are clinging on. The Hakonechloa macra is still showing some remnants of autumn gold, but everything else is pale, like the frost that clings to the fallen birch leaves.

Pond Border #2

There is an empty feeling to most of the garden now, as if it is retreating to the borders. The space feels lighter somehow, exposed by naked tree branches that until recently were still covered in beautiful leaves. I find I don’t mind this. It would be tempting to scrabble around for sources of more colour, but the pond border was always conceived of as a space that would reflect the march of the seasons more dramatically than other areas, with fewer if any evergreens. I will leave the skeletons of the grasses until they become too ugly to tolerate, and then enjoy the hushed pause before everything bursts into life again in the Spring.

Magnolia Border #1

The magnolia border is also looking more stripped bare. I cut down the stems of the Veronicastrum because they had gone completely black with frost damage, and the seed heads had gone from architectural to ugly. The Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ is really earning its keep now, I am so glad it responded well to its severe pruning earlier in the year. It is echoed by the Heuchera, but overall the look is sparse. I smile at the thought of all the bulbs that, hopefully, will burst forth come Spring, but for now, it is fairly bleak.

Frosted Hydrangea

The oak leaved hydrangea seems to have skipped the whole “turn wonderful shades of red and orange and then drop my leaves” stage and opted for the frost-haggard look this year. A bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but I love the architectural properties it provides for most of the year so much that it is forgiven for this oversight.

Frosted Perennial

Some things almost seem enhanced by their frosting.

Battling Cyclamen

Others flatter to deceive. The cyclamen appear battered down, scruffy.

Cyclamen Buds

A closer look reveals new buds waiting to unfurl. Hopefully! I am happy to be optimistic.

Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia stellata dominates the space, the network of branches standing out against the dark green of the shed behind, and the ivy on the fence. Now very much a small tree rather than a large shrub, it holds everything together – and is smothered in beautiful furry buds.

Magnolia Buds #1 Magnolia Buds #2

I’ve never taken as much notice of how the garden looks in winter, so I am grateful to be part of the End of Month View meme hosted by Patient Gardener. Check out the comments on her own post to peer over the garden fence of other gardeners.

11 thoughts on “End of Month View: November 2010

  1. Janet, I love how there is still life in your garden, even as a casual observer might not notice – the cyclamens preparing to flower, and that fantastic magnolia’s furry buds.

    1. Thank you Cyndy – I was so happy to spot the buds, I thought I’d seen the last of them and that was sad.

  2. Bleached is an excellent description of a garden in winter~I’ll be able to use that description next month~That’s tomorrow! In the middle of next month! Love the furry buds and cyclamen. The leaves are a wonderful spot of color in my garden now…I have a pink flowered one that is adorable and makes me get on my knees to appreciate. I love this meme and keep meaning to join~Must send a calendar reminder next month. gail

    1. Hi Gail! Look forward to seeing “bleached” in a December post ;-) And yes, do please join the meme! I found it so good for helping me confront what does and doesn’t work, and I’ve had some great constructive feedback too. Plus I just love the opportunity to “peer” over other people’s garden wall and pinch ideas and inspiration…

  3. I hope it works out for your cyclamen! Sorry that your hydrangea didn’t perform, too. I think I feel that way about the entire forests around here some years. This year we had a beautifully colored fall, but some years it is so droughty that the leaves go straight from green to brown.

    1. Hello Eliza. I suppose that’s the thing about gardening – you can do your best to plan and plant appropriately, but then you have to sit back and deal with whatever comes, and when it is weather, you have no control over it!

  4. Your term “bleached” is so apt! For you in winter and actually for me in August when almost everything is resting or retreating from the scorching sun. Even though it is probably one of the worst moments in your garden I can still see it is beautiful. The first two photos show it is planted very thoughtfully and I like the pebbles which I imagine disappear in summer under the lush growth only to re-emerge now. I like that you’re so positive too, finding the buds for next spring is certainly the best tonic for the gardener who thinks of winter as depressing. Give your hydrangea more time, I’m sure it will look colourful next autumn. Christina

    1. Thank you Christina!, the complement on the planting means a great deal. You are absolutely right about the pebbles, they come in to their own in winter, when otherwise there would be too much bare soil. The only problem is that it makes enriching the soil harder.

  5. Me again, I was just thinking about what you said about close planting on my comments. I think that is the great thing about either seeds you grow or better still those that self seed – you can plant so generously and then when (if) they outgrow the space you can just compost them. All the time they’re there they’re stopping weed seedlings taking root. I may sound a fanatical about the weeds, but that’s a downside of a country garden – seeds blow in, whatever you do! Christina

    1. Hello again! I think you are absolutely right about it feeling better if you have sown (or allowed to seed) plants yourself when you then plant them closely. I too hate bare soil – hence the pebbles discussed above. Not only is bare soil an opportunity for weeds to take hold it is also a missed opportunity to enjoy something beautiful there instead. It is a source of some debate with my father-in-law, who shares the garden, but I am gradually converting him…

  6. I was looking at my garden today . . . taking “snow” pictures, unsurprisingly — and I noticed that there were several plants/trees with buds on them. Will they survive these days of below freezing temperatures?

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