Monday, 22 October 2012

An Artist's Palette

Er, I'm not the artist.
I just appreciate the colours.

A few weeks ago, I featured Rhus typhina displaying this year's cones above its green leaves. And now, after a few cold nights, the leaves are changing colour. Rhus is one of the last trees to produce its leaves in spring, but also one of the first to lose them in the autumn. Although this plant is well known for its autumn display, it is very brief, and the next windy day will soon put paid to it.

We've only had a few cold nights so far, and the trees are only just beginning their autumn displays here. But I decided to take a walk and see what Nature had painted so far:

The first trees I came across were really a mixed bunch. The one in the centre is showing no colour change at all.

Ah, that's better. This shrub was just a little bit further down the road. Nature had been out with the paintbrush here.

Just around the corner, and in the distance, again a mixture, some showing autumn tints, and some not.

And finally, this beautiful specimen, planted in front of the local shops. Nature did a good paint job here, after doing her weekly shop, no doubt.

Cold weather is forecast for next weekend, so the autumn display should really get going by then, but snow showers are also forecast, which could make the display short-lived. So over the next week or so, whilst rushing around, why not stop a while and take a look at the trees, and marvel in Nature's art exhibition. And it's free.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2012

It's time to check out what is flowering this month.

Begonia Superstars Red is in full bloom now, and still protecting my strawberries. You can see the unripened fruits in the photo. No prizes for guessing where the ripe fruit is. They were delicious.

Lily Sun Flight, purchased this spring and planted quite late. Which explains why it is flowering now.

Osteospermum, planted in the top of a wall basket. Big mistake. They point to the sky, so I can't see the full display. Memo to self, must plant them lower next year.

Geranium Blanche Roche, a trailing pelargonium, purchased this year, and still blooming despite recent frosts.

Hydrangea, one of the oldest plants in the garden. The bloom in the centre of the photo is the normal colour. The surrounding blooms are older and fading.

Lily Scheherazade, the name just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it ?  Another late planted lily.

Aster frikartii Monch, one of the few asters that doesn't succumb to mildew.

Begonia Superstars Apricot, I love these varieties of begonia. Pity the weather hasn't been so good to them this year.

Sedum, planted a few years ago, and putting on it's best display to date.

Cyclamen hederifolium, found these hiding at the bottom of the garden. Very hardy and very pretty.

Viola Penny, bought these for next year's spring display, but they are flowering now.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this meme. If you want to see what is in bloom around the world now, pop over to Carol's blog.

Friday, 12 October 2012

And Then Came Flowers

Remember the post about the ivy?
Well now it's blooming.

I've never really taken much notice of this ivy, mainly because it's right at the bottom of the garden, and was originally planted as ground cover on a dry bank in deep shade. In the last few years, it has climbed up a wire fence, and started to flower just a few years ago. But as it blooms in late autumn, and it is at the bottom of the garden, I must admit to having ignored it. Excuses !  
However, as I'm joining in the BTO's berry survey this winter, I shall be observing the ivy more closely. Hopefully, it will produce berries this year.

I've been wondering why the bird seed seems to be disappearing quickly at the moment. Think I've found the answer:

We have a charm of goldfinches and a flock of greenfinches visiting about three times a day. And they're very hungry. I imagine that the cost of bird seed will increase soon because of the summer weather producing a poor harvest. And seed in the wild will be in short supply too.
On the subject of food, I went to see if any strawberries had ripened and found this:

If you look closely, you can see a spider on top of the strawberry. I hope it moves on when the strawberry ripens. The strawberries are growing in wall planters. Unfortunately, at this time of year, we get a lot of spiders on the planters. Probably because the wall is warmer than the rest of the garden. In fact, anywhere is warmer than the garden today. It's felt really cold, despite the sun shining. Well, it is autumn after all.

Monday, 1 October 2012

How To Watch A Plant

Fancy a new hobby for the winter ?
I'll explain later.

This is Aster novi belgii Marie Ballard, purchased two years ago from Hayloft Plants. It is a hardy perennial, and was bred sixty years ago by Ernest Ballard, a plant breeder from Colwall, Herefordshire. Although it was not released  for sale until 1955. My plant flowered last year, but didn't put on much of a show. So this year is its first proper display. I'm really impressed with it.

Following my disasters with the 'squirrel-proof' bird feeders, I decided to treat myself, or should I say the birds, to a new feeder. It's not squirrel proof, but then neither were the others. I just liked the look of it.

And so too did this greenfinch. He can't believe his luck.

And in no time at all, he was tucking in.

He stayed for a few minutes before flying off. The feeder is hanging on a wall, and is a little exposed. Most of my feeders are near shrubs, so the birds can quickly dive for cover if need be. Anyway, a few birds have used it, but I may move it to a more sheltered position.

Now, about that new hobby. Do you fancy watching shrubs ?  I know, it sounds a bit like watching paint dry, but you don't have to actually sit and watch them. I mean, they don't do much, do they ?

The BTO have organised a Birds and Garden Berries survey to find out which birds eat garden berries throughout the winter. All it involves, is selecting different shrubs carrying berries, and checking them once a week to see how many berries remain. You don't have to count exactly how many berries there are, just a rough idea. Taking photos of the plants every week would be an easy solution. You also need to observe which birds are removing the berries.

The purpose of the survey is to find out which plants are the most popular with the birds, and what type of birds are attracted to the berries. What a pity those finches were eating the cotoneaster berries last week, the survey didn't start until yesterday.