Sunday, September 20, 2009

The never-ending story

My dad is growing a pineapple plant for me. I've no idea where it'll go, given how congested the windowsills are even now, but it's a fun thought and a kind one. He's got one on their bedroom windowledge, taken as a cutting from the top of a pineapple I bought them one weekend. It's become a fine thing and he's keeping his fingers crossed that next year it may flower and fruit. I hope so, it'll be compensation for the frustration I caused him by buying him some seeds of the black bird of paradise plant. He successfully raised five plants, which we shared round the family. It isn't a small plant. In fact it is spectacularly large for the living room of a post-war semi. And I reckon he's still got three years before he'll be seeing flowers on it.

At some stage very soon I'll have to dismantle the hanging baskets and bring into the house all the pelargoniums and suchlike before the frosts do for them. This year I went for a pile of scented leaved species which I've hung up by the front door so that I can accidentally get wafts of perfume from their leaves. By far the most spectacular have been some large-leaved peppermint-scented varieties. There hasn't been enough sun to really suit the lemon ones. I'll have to bring the banana plant back in, too. It's been on summer leave in the front garden and has somehow managed to survive being three-quarters severed at the base by one of August's unseasonal gales. I think I'll keep it well away from the living room window this time: that's quite bothered enough already by the aphids that keep having a go at the peppers. I have learned two new tricks there: it's very easy to eliminate half the infestation by hoovering them up and the plants are small enough for me to swill a lot of the rest away under the tap. At some stage I shall have a dozen or more small, slightly spicy red peppers just the right size for stuffing with a bit of cheese and some basil.

The first tinges of autumn are on the leaves. The blackbirds have had the rowan berries I didn't pinch for hedgerow jelly. The Crocosmias and most of the clematis have flowered themselves into exhaustion and the Michaelmas daisies are just breaking bud. I've planted a load of iris and jonquils, in the hopes of replacing all the ones dug up by the squirrels last year. I'm also trying again with some rhizomes of the widow iris, something I fell in love with when I saw it in the wild. I have to do that in containers: my soil is way too heavy for it to thrive in the beds. I've also planted a load of sea hollies, again in containers, for the same reason. Seeing as how the slugs have thwarted each and every attempt to grow some autumn salads and beetroot in the box container of the patio I've decided to turn it over to ornamentals. There isn't anywhere near enough blue in this garden so the sea hollies will be useful. I'm debating whether or not to stick some camassias in with them; it's a combination I enjoyed for a couple of years when I first moved in and the garden was a lot more bare.

I've also trimmed one end of the clematis that is almost smothering the lilac bush (no mean feat: it's a bosky lilac bush!). My next-door neighbour trimmed a couple of branches (well, twigs: he doesn't allow branches at all on his side of the fence) of the lilac and this freed the clematis to swing, door-like across the pavement. I'd have preferred to have waited until the flowering had finished but I can't very well rail about drivers blocking pavements and then let my garden take over so I did the necessary. The plant is so vigorous that my taking off a wheelie binful of branches and flowers has barely figured. It's C. vitalba, awash with small, white, starry flowers smelling strongly of yeast and honey. I'm not entirely sure I enjoy the smell close up.

The robins and starling have demolished a large pile of mealworms left on the feeding table and the goldfinches have gone through a 2kg bag of niger seed in a week. Ah well. I think I'll have a plate of toasted crumpets.


Scarlet-Blue said...

I have a lemon balm hedge and a lavendar bush. As you can imagine they are quite unruly. But smell nice.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Lavender struggles in my garden but I have a patio completely awash with lemon balm. Wonderful isn't it?

Scarlet-Blue said...

Yes, my lemon balm has kept the ground elder at bay!
I think Lavender needs a lot of sun and well drained soil... mine really has gone mad this year - but the lavender in the back garden doesn't do well.
Crikey, I sound like a grown up!

Kevin Musgrove said...