Looking around the garden

This afternoon I took a walk around my garden to look up closely at the growth and condition of my plants. We have had very strong winds over the last few days and a lot of rain also. The weather however is a lot milder than I remember early January to be and we have not had much in the way of frost overnight. I have to be honest and say I am looking forward to seeing a hard frost. My garden with its varied foliage and strong structure, to me, takes on a magical charm with frost and snow. For the past few years February seemed to bring the heavy snows here – but last year it was later coming in the middle of March.

The Dianthus, shown above, is remarkably holding on to a solitary flower in my front garden, where it is exposed to all rain and cold winds – and this is January 4th. It is quite a contrast, growing in a tight mound to the ground with its grey-blue fleshy slim leaves, to the tall dry dusty-looking grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ shown in the photograph below it. I sometimes cut this grass down in the autumn – as when the strong wind hits its stems they break and fly untidily around my neighbours’ gardens. Only this miscanthus now remains at the front, as I lifted another earlier in the year. I have felt able to leave this one uncut as it has some protection from the fence behind. I am enjoying its grand decaying flower heads and structure immensely. It really, again to me perhaps only, looks quite magical and I seriously look forward to seeing it with frost, spider’s webs and snow on it!

Crocus bulbs, shown above, are fully through the grass as you will see if you look a little closer, near the centre of the photograph. I do believe this growth is on the early side for Scotland. I will monitor when they and the daffodils planted with them come into flower.

Pyracantha ‘Golden Charmer’, shown above, does give the garden some strong colour with its orange berries at this time of year. I planted this in the autumn for its colour and the berries for the birds – it should also have further interest in the spring with its blossom. I hope it will fill this space in time and offer the birds a little more protection from preying cats.

Sadly I have to report that today I found a cat hiding (sitting on my young Uncinia rubra grasses!) under my pine tree, near the feeders. I also suspect it was there earlier as I found lots of grey feathers under the feeder. I have now placed a decorative ceramic sphere where the flattened grass was and plant supports next to it in an attempt to make this area less vulnerable for the birds.

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, shown above, ends today’s plants of note. It by no means though is an insignificant plant in my garden! This plant as you can see has black grassy foliage that suggests it is a grass. In actual fact this ‘black grass’ is indeed an evergreen perennial. It bears small pink-violet flowers in summer followed by clusters of black-purple berries as you will see above. Note the single berry on the ground above the bunch of berries – after I took this photograph I used a nearby stone to push this berry into the ground. I hope this will germinate and increase the ground cover this plant is giving in this area.

I collected seeds from many plants in my garden this year. I have already picked some of the berries of the Ophiopogon and planted them in a seed tray, putting them in my unheated greenhouse. I am not sure they will germinate – I have a feeling they will do better outside getting the chills of winter. I plan to go out into the garden again tomorrow, pick the berries that are left on the plants and just push them into the ground nearby the parent plant. This plant gives great cover and is quite striking growing in solid clumps – it is one of my favourites for all year ground cover.

All photographs shown above were taken in my garden on January 4th 2007.

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