Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' finds renewed vigour in September. And rain-refreshed, this lunch time.

I've just been out to catch a breath of air and snap a few September lovelies.

But first - a public apology.
What an absolute disgrace! What an unpardonable display of atrocious manners! How could I have been so rude and neglectful? Please accept grovelling, embarrassed foot-shuffling and aw-shucks-mumble-type apologies for being so rude and neglectful. Days and days have passed, and the heap of other people's posts that I haven't yet read has grown to aldermanic proportions. Such bad manners are unforgivable. I'm riven with remorse and self-loathing. I've missed you all, but I will catch up. I promise!

Phew! That feels ever so much better.

Seed heads of Paeonia mlokosewitchii. A dentist's nightmare might look a bit like this.

The year has slipped sweetly on, leaving tatty, tawdry, brown-petalled, sag-bellied, bag-eyed, dandruffed August behind. Huzzah huzzah! How utterly divine to be welcoming sweet September, my second favourite - or sometimes my first favourite month! And when close bosom friends are here, conspiring with the sun, things are bound to become frolicsome.

May is wondrous, of course, but marred by Chelsea and its febrile activities; June is supposed to be sweet, warm and gently perfumed with honeysuckle and roses, but usually lets you down with the weather. Wet, windy evenings are always worse when it's too light to close the curtains and snuggle up with a good book but too unpleasant to go out for a walk or do the weeding.

Rosa 'Buff Beauty,' one of the best of the hybrid musk roses rewards a vicious dead-heading in June by delivering a fresh autumn flush. 'Penelope' and 'Pax' are also fine varieties.

Oh the soft September air! The lazy, reluctant-to-rise mornings when you shiver deliciously at first light because you know that the gentle mist is no more harmful than vaseline on a cine camera lens. Warm sun is promised by coffee time and a golden afternoon will follow, with rooks and jackdaws circling on the thermals as ploughs turn the stubbles.

Late Summer Pretties.
September is special, not just for early autumn lovelies but for its reprise numbers. Roses find second wind - the 'Mutabilis' and 'Buff Beauty' were looking particularly pretty this morning, tickled up by a thundery shower.

Cranesbills and pulmonarias have all grown crops of fresh foliage and the penstemons are limbering up for yet another burst. The peonies have astonished us with their magnificent seed heads, resembling mediaeval court jester hats and I regret to say that even the turds on sticks - you may recall them here - have offended the Photographer General's sensibilities by squeezing out a couple of autumn monsters.

Championship points, for long-running performance goes to Aster x frikartii 'Mönch' which has been in constant, glorious bloom for nearly ten weeks and has a long while to go yet.

Clematis x jouiniana 'Praecox' has completely covered its wicket fence support and now resembles a floriferous hedge. The origin is, I believe, C. heracleifolia crossed with C. vitalba - a couple of uninspiring species but what a superb little bastard they produced!

The bees have been loving all the late flowers. It's fun watching them try to feed from the Kniphofias which, I guess, would be pollinated by sunbirds in their native Africa. The bumble bees must get terrible headaches, trying to cram their way into the tubes. My favourite, this summer, has been K. 'Bee's Lemon,' but a K. rooperi which languished for years in the shade of the big whitebeam we removed has gone bonkers, in the increased light, and produced a positive forest of urgent, rude, upthrusting spikes which are so orange that they almost glow in the dark.

Kniphofia 'Bees Lemon' - a rather mature specimen, accommodating a female earwig.

I'm not a huge fuchsia person but there are some in the 'wild and interesting-looking' range which are pretty good. We grow F. 'Riccartonii' which is little more than a slightly emplumpenned 'magellanica' type with damson petals and scarlet sepals. The near white F. magellanica, 'Hawkshead' is a tad insipid unless shaded, to bleach the petals. Then it doesn't flower enough. My current fave, looking extremely pretty today, is F. 'Lady Bacon.' She retains the simple wild beauty of the species, but adds exactly the right snap of smartly contrasting colour on slim little blooms.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Lady Bacon.

But oh, how I ramble!

I'm listening to Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs - what else, for this deliciously melancholic season?

This day in 1984 I harrowed 40 acres, to make the land ready for drilling winter wheat. We then dined with friends in Rutland. Apparently we got home at 2 am, as I euphemistically record, 'rather tired.'

Last Night's film was Lawrence of Arabia the Director's Cut. David Lean really was a master and the youthful Peter o' Toole riveting in the title role. The desert photography was utterly fantastic but you need a big screen to appreciate it fully.


  1. That seed head is very impressive and as you suggest reminds me of my son's mouth after he knocked 3 front teeth out!

  2. I like that fuchsia very much. A few days ago I saw a batch of them beautifully grown in the glasshouse at Wisley - the big show ones. I hated them (only plants I really hated on that visit). Then I sat down to eat a sandwich on the edge of the wild garden and found myself right next to a very attractive large shrubby one - but iwth tiny, graceful flowers.

  3. Love the seed heads of Paeonia mlokosewitchii. So vibrant.

    I understand your feelings about September. There is a notable difference in the garden. Many second flourishes, a great lushness and an atmosphere that it will all be over shortly. All the plants are giving it their all for the grand finale.


  4. Nige... I find the Kniphofias (I have some blooming right now) to be a little disappointing. By the time the flowers at the top are blooming the ones at the rear are all but dead and crisy (perhaps I'm doing something wrong!).

    Lovely shots, we just had a huge downpour and thunder last night and this morning the sun is shining and the rain is making the plants shimmer and gleam.



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  6. I have just obtained a plant of Fuchsia m. 'Lady Bacon' and agree that it is one of the prettiest of that group.