It’s official – autumn is finally here. I’ve been watching the acer for weeks now, wondering when – if – the leaves were going to turn. I needn’t have worried, I woke up this morning to find it beginning to flame. It’s not just autumn that has arrived – so have the plumbers to sort out various bathroom issues, so apologies for what is a rushed End of Month View post with snatched photos.
I’m feeling rather nostalgic at the moment. Having decided to replace the pond and surrounding planting with grass to lure in family buyers, this will be the last time I can look across the pond at the Autumnal tapestry created by the grasses, eupatorium, fatsia, acer etc.. There is going to be a long slow goodbye to this garden. I’ve been realising how much I have come to love the deep layers and contrasts you get from having borders with narrow paths between them. Looking across the garden from the house, it is impossible to see the path that runs around the back separating the grasses and perennials from the evergreens obscuring the fence.
Looking across the pond to what I call the Dahlia Border really brings this home. The dahlia border runs for about 4m from the greenhouse to the acer. Last year it was crammed with, unsurprisingly, wonderful dahlias. Before they flowered, wallflowers and tulips strutted their stuff set off by a euphorbia. This year it has been far less successful, but the richness of the planting in front around the pond has helped disguise this. In fact, it is hard to get a photo of just the dahlia border itself.
I was really excited about this border in the Spring, I had planned even more rich colour, with rich magenta ‘Downham Royal‘ planted alongside shocking pink ‘Hillcrest Royal‘, toned down with the deep almost black of ‘Rip City’. The last two were much loved dahlias from last year, that didn’t survive the winter in the garage. None of the dahlias have done particularly well this year, the Spring and early Summer were too dry. But I never got to see the planned combination. Instead of ‘Downham Royal’ I got sent a pale pink pompom dahlia that had nothing in particular to recommend it, but which I could have lived with. But instead of ‘Hillcrest Royal’ I got a vivid scarlet cactus dahlia.
Now I am all for experimenting with colour, but these two side by side? I was frankly grateful that they didn’t flower very prolifically! The pink pompom, while not something I would ever have chosen, could work OK in the right colour scheme, and the flowers look great in a vase, but the scarlet monstrosity…. Anyway, suffice to say that I have not been happy with my dahlia border this year.
So why am I talking about it now? Because this is where I will be moving some of the pond bed plants to, once I have the dahlias lifted and have decided whether I can risk moving the miscanthus. Late grasses like miscanthus are best lifted and divided in Spring rather than Autumn, just as they come back in to growth, and if I leave them where they are at least there will be something to look at before we get the turf down. But I will be wanting to plant tulips and other bulbs in amongst the perennials that wind up in the dahlia bed, and planting the miscanthus when the tulips are in full swing could be a bit of a disaster given how confined the space is. Actually, while typing this, I have come to the conclusion that the answer may be to plant the tulips and other bulbs in pots and leave all the dahlia bed replanting until the Spring.
Another reason to leave the plant moving until Spring is that I will need to empty and decommission the pond during the winter, which I can see being a pretty big job. I can’t afford to leave it until January, the frogs may well be starting to mate by then, and I feel bad enough about destroying such a rich habitat, even if it has been overwhelmed by duckweed this year. Gardening SIL is up for a visit at the weekend, so I can check out with her whether she wants any of the pond plants, but my guess is no. Her own pond is no bigger than mine, and is already richly planted. So the plants will be freecycled, the pebbles and rocks bagged up, the pond liner rescued and packed away for possible future use. It will make for a bare and barren patch until we get the turf laid next year, but at least this will reinforce the message that we are on our way. It is just going to be a long process.
Ironically, this has been the best year we’ve ever had for the lovely pale cream waterlily, which is still trying to flower now!
So, the End of Month View posts will be starting to chart the dismantling of a garden, albeit with some re-arranging of plants. I will spend the winter working out which plants from the pond bed can go in to the dahlia border, which go elsewhere, which get freecycled, which get potted up to take with us. Kind of fun actually, the challenge being to have something that will be really easy to take care of but which will look good all year, since who knows how long it will take for us to get a sale. Which leaves the magnolia border.
Not much changing yet, certainly no sign of Autumn colour on the hydrangea. The potential problem is the magnolia itself. It is about 2m tall now, and although there is still a nice wide path between it and the house, the view from the kitchen window is now completely obscured. Now as you know, I love my Magnolia stellata, and photograph it obsessively when it blooms. But even I have to admit that it is now too big for its place.
Lovely though it is to look out on clouds of white blossom in the Spring, it is a very strong visual full stop. I rather like looking out on to leafy lushness when I am washing up, but even I find myself craving a more open view, and getting excited about what I could do with the bed were the tree no longer there. But this isn’t really my garden any longer. It is now all about doing the least we need to in order to sell the place. So, what do you think? Prune hard back and hope it doesn’t go all brown and shrivelled? Leave it as is? Be brave and take it out? I won’t be rushing in to anything, too much else to do, but I would be interested to hear what other people think.
My thanks once again to Helen@Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month meme. It may be more about leaving the garden than developing it for me now, but it is still a great way to focus on what is good and what not so good. Check out her post and follow the links in the comments for more tours around other people’s gardens. I’m off to make more tea for the plumbers and dream about re-planting the dahlia border with grasses, crocosmias, aquilegias and geums.