Winter: now here

The first frost of the year; it seems like winter is here. On the plus side, annual weeds have flopped into mush. The last leaves are falling, revealing the underlying structure of trees. Days are short, the darkness longer every night. The best place is fireside. When morning comes the frosted garden is worth getting cold for. These sedums hold the frost well.IMG_1140The last of the medlars, bletted, now frozen, soon to return to earth.IMG_1138The long borders are being shaped by the frost.IMG_1154Leonotis seedbeds will persist through the harshest winter weather.IMG_1150Gunnera is not nearly as resilient.IMG_1163The weekend brought more rain which made for slightly warmer soil, so I planted some bareroot trees and shrubs: 10 each of guelder rose, wayfaring tree, bird cherry, hornbeam and spindle. That brings the total to 96 planted so far this season, with another 240 to go. The new woodland is starting to take shape..


Where the time goes

Autumn colour has reached its ultimate; from here on the colour falls and seeps away into the damp earth. Frosts are starting to knock the more delicate leaves back to earth too. Owl hoots echo through the dark early evenings and into the long nights.

These sedum take on an anaemic look as their colours drain away.IMG_1098A few red berries remain – full of sugar, an attractive autumn snack for birds.IMG_1093The spindle reds go beyond natural, and then they are gone.IMG_1081Cotinus: no smoke but lots of fire.IMG_1077Dogwood leaves drop to reveal their black upright stems.IMG_1069Rowan, red enough to take a position in the field.IMG_1055Prunus ‘Collingwood Ingram’ and liquidambar IMG_1058Pinus radiata: a cone for Christmas.IMG_1046Acer rubrum: nearly lost the lot now but they were incredible.IMG_1036Parrotia persica catching the last of the evening light in the last of its leaves.IMG_1022Rhus glabra ‘Laciniata’ in a delicate moment before final fall.IMG_1076

Soon most of the colour will have gone to ground, the leaves will be away and the low sun won’t really warm the ground. Winter is coming.

Colour before the fall

Deciduous plants are nearing their prime in terms of colour. Autumn has as much interest as spring – if not more – with small dramas breaking out all over the garden.


I want more of these cyclamen.

It is the time of the aster..


..and the liriope.


A callicarpa (for Babs)..


Miscanthus are perfect in this light..




..and liriodendron is butter yellow against an evening contrail.

The variety of colour this year is quite incredible. Perhaps the long hot summer has something to do with it.

A good year for fruiting trees too with an abundance of berries for the birds to feast on.

Time feels suspended – if only by wanting it to be. Winter’s on it’s way but an amazing show is happening in the meanwhile. Lots to do, lots to look at too.


Autumn mornings are damp and heavy with dew. Mist flows downhill and gathers in areas where it is obstructed.



The sun rises late these days; usually after we have left for work so we miss how it catches the last of the mist.




The deciduous plants are hanging on to their leaves for now, slowly changing colour every day with some spectacular results.



Cornus and sedum

Autumn is the perfect season for propagation. I’ve been busy splitting perennials, planting seeds and bulbs and doing cuttings. There’s also more than 200 trees to be planted in the next month or so but the shorter days catch me by surprise and it’s dark before I know it. Winter is coming and soon it will be time to rest and plan, but in the meanwhile there’s work to be done.

Category is: Roses

I have to admit that I have only come to really admire roses since moving to Snakesbury. Maybe it is because they grow so well here, requiring very little in the way of care but well deserving of the attention they get – especially when in flower. Most of the roses here have been gifts from our dear friend Nick who is something of an expert on the Rosa family. More on these in a bit.

Some roses were already here, for example this little yellow rose which used to struggle away underneath the bay tree. Since that tree was removed the little yellow rose is no longer little – in fact suckers have appeared up to 2 metres away, emerging through the grass. Sometimes known as ‘Prince Charlie’s Rose’ (I think) this is a wild Scottish rose.IMG_4142Rosa Spinosa ‘Williams’ Double Yellow’

This shrub rose was purchased about 8 years ago from a nursery in Dunmow, Essex. The simple red flowers are followed by amazing long hips – really interesting in the autumn.IMG_4109Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’

This is one of my favourites. Propagated at Angel Cottage, Wiltshire by Kate, it also produces great hips in the autumn and has a classic simple wild rose flower.IMG_4112Rosa glauca

Another wonderful and extremely tough rose with intense colour is Rosa rugosa.IMG_4114Rosa rugosa

I haven’t been able to identify this classic, very fragrant rose. This one was propagated from a rose that was in our London garden 18 years ago – we call it ‘Mrs Jones’ after the previous owner who loved her garden.IMG_4217

This shrub rose with intense orange-red flowers is also un-named, a gift from my friend Desilver. IMG_4194

The following two rambling roses are from the nursery at Sissinghurst. This one is happily rambling through the new trellis.IMG_4188Rosa ‘Bobbie James’

This one was really knocked back by the ‘beast from the east’ earlier in the year, but is now starting to grow well and will soon cover the pergola. IMG_4200Rosa ‘Mulliganii’

Moving on to Nick’s roses – this is a wonderful shrub rose with big flowers and good fragrance. I’m not sure of it’s name.IMG_4216

I’m pretty sure this shrub rose is called ‘Peace’, the colours are amazing.IMG_4219

This shrub rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is surely one of the best for fragrance and vigour, with flowers that last well indoors and keep on coming throughout summer.IMG_4181Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’

Another wonderful shrub rose that is also vigorous and strong is ‘Nevada’.IMG_4116Rosa ‘Nevada’

And this is a highly fragrant floribunda rose called ‘Margaret Merril’.IMG_4118Rosa ‘Margaret Merril’

This rambling rose is just starting to climb into the horse chestnut tree. Great name.IMG_4185Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’

And finally, one that was already here at Snakesbury is this unidentified rambling rose. It covers the fence and fills the entire area with the most wonderful fragrance; the essence of summer.IMG_4184

Pause before June

Monday’s sun & 27 degrees summerness is now on pause with rain and mist during the intermission. Tuesday’s rain fell in chunks, more than I have ever experienced in the UK. The driveway turned into a (small) river, the soak-aways gave up – inundated – as the water rapidly rose at the back door. Thankfully there was no damage from this drama.


Thursday’s flavour of weather is mist – thick and swirling. It has eliminated all noise, even the birds are silent.


In this damp cool air the philadelphus and sweet-peas fill the area with their thick perfume.

Over in the neighbouring field the wheat is ripening. Summer is coming.




The last of May

May has been an excellent gardening month – mostly warm, sunny days with some decent bits of rain at night. Perfection. Nighttime temperatures had been low, but this changed over the last week. The plants responded with rampant growth and flowers. The dominant colour is now blue – oh and red, orange, purple, green, yellow..hmm.


Bulb activity is continuing through into the summer with gladiolus, iris and alliums.


Grasses are really starting to come into their own now.


The wall-trained cotoneaster is looking wonderful in flower – we will need somebody to come and prune it soon.


We are enjoying the view that was revealed by removing the massive bay tree, killed by the winter cold. Thank you Kate; you speak excellent chainsaw.


Somebody said there was a garden show on somewhere, I think I will give that a miss and hang out here instead.