Every year I try to get out into the garden on Christmas Day to do a little, informal survey of what is looking interesting. It could be from flower or berries, decaying or particularly handsome foliage; anything really. It gives me a bit of an idea of what to look for in future years, still performing in December and I can consider the weather and general climate.
In fact, recent trends have tracked with the weather patterns the UK is heading towards with hotter, drier summers and cool, but not often cold, wet winters. As such, there are typically quite a few plants in flower on the 25th of December, or the 1st of January each year that really shouldn't be and wouldn't have been a decade before.
Anyway, that is for another article. Here I'm thinking of that transition between late summer and autumn. On the 24th, after school, iPlantsdaughter and I took some snips and a trig out to the garden and gathered an example of everything (weeds included) that were in flower on the day (pictured above). Not a bad haul, if I do say so myself. Especially considering we have only been in this house and garden for 14 months.
My Hebe 'Conquest', several Hydrangea and one of the Buddleja I bred were going strong and forming much of the flower power from larger shrubs.
About 10 of my 25 varieties of Dahlia were still flowering well.
A few exotics like my Lantana were looking good, as were 7 or 8 of my Pelargonium.
Both pink and the more traditional blue-flowered Chicory (Cichorium intybus) were flowering well, as they have been since May, just as a few varieties of Fuchsia have.
Predictable, late-season flowerer like several Persicaria, Crocosmia, Sanguisorba and the autumn-flowering Cyclamen hederifolium were all doing well and looking glorious. Most of my grasses are too young to flower well, so only A Pennisetum macrourum were giving me grass flowers. Equally, my Aster varieties were all budded, but without any open flower yet, which was a bit surprising.
All told, the colour was riotous and the overall feeling for the garden was very positive. I'm going to try and repeat this exercise at least four times a year to get a feel for the level of impact the plants in the iPlantsgarden have in each season. That way, I can plan my purchasing to fill gaps rather than simply buy all the plants I love (though I'll likely do that as well.
A worthwhile experiment and I'm really happy to have shared it with my youngest daughter. A good project for children in the garden and one I'd recommend on many levels.
Have fun and do tag me @iplantsman in any experiments you undertake as I'd love to see them.
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