Nov 182014
 
Eucomis bicolor
Euonymus nanus

Euonymus nanus

Fruits abound this autumn, some less noticeable than others. Tucked away in the rock garden’s east valley is Euonymus nanus. As its name suggests this is a dwarf growing member of the genus. This low growing shrub is sparsely covered in linear leaves; the distinctively shaped and easily recognisable fruit capsule is bright red. The aril encasing the seed; orange.

Introduced by Reginald Farrer from Gansu Province, China where it is found in dry habitats in high mountain forest and scrub. Here it reaches 1m +, in cultivation on a rock shelf in the garden it barely makes 200mm.

Eucomis bicolor

Eucomis bicolor

South African bulbs did well this year; Eucomis bicolor is retaining its crown of leafy bracts topping off the flowered spike. This spike is now covered in paper thin angled seed pods. Held within are the small shiny black seeds. If fertile, sown into compost the resultant seedlings will give a flowering plant within five years.

As day length shortens and average temperature drops the need to cut grass reduces and then the relief of the last cut. This is the time to give mowers, strimmer’s and other equipment a seasonal clean. Wet grass is a congealing mass in corners of hoods and guards and on the blades of mowers and shears.

Strimmer heads require cleaning

Strimmer heads require cleaning

The attached image of a strimmer hood illustrates how lack of maintenance results in a build-up of layers of clippings. It is too easy to thrust a machine back into a shed at the end of the job. Yet a couple of minutes with a strategically placed stiff bristled hand brush and an old knife prolongs the life of the equipment and makes it easier to use the next time.

A light spray with duck oil prevents rust forming on metal parts.

Of course, if you treat equipment with respect and clean it after use it goes without saying the big clean at the end of the season will be minimal.

Oct 292013
 

Not all deciduous leaf, autumn colours are fiery shades. The foliage on the Euonymus sieboldianus growing in the glasshouse border is virtually translucent. Just as rewarding in the landscape as a specimen with scarlet foliage. Pass this small tree in the early morning or at dusk to appreciate the lightness of colour. In addition appreciate the subtle pink fruits with red seeds exposed suspended from this year’s growth.

A native to eastern Asia of open woodland. There are specimens of E. sieboldianus growing near the western boundary showing, as yet, no sign of autumn colouration in the foliage. This group planting is from seed collected in Japan from parent plants growing within the lower limits of Fagus crenata forest at 1200m. One of these specimens is absolutely laden with fruit gradually segmenting apart exposing the seed.

Euonymus sieboldianus. Photo by Tony Garn

Euonymus sieboldianus

Euonymus sieboldianus. Photo by Tony Garn

Euonymus sieboldianus

Oct 152013
 

Young plants of Euonymus oxyphyllus have enjoyed this summer’s climate. The fruit produced are held pendulously on this season’s growth.

The fleshy capsule, segmented into five parts is a rich dark red enclosing several orange seeds.

The added bonus is autumn colour of increased intensity with the late warm dry spell.

Collected in Japan where it was growing on an east facing embankment in a dry stony loam at 1075m.

Euonymus oxyphyllus. Photo Tony Garn

Euonymus oxyphyllus

Euonymus oxyphyllus. Photo by Tony Garn

Euonymus oxyphyllus

Feb 142012
 

Seed pods; bright yellow, tucked into the evergreen canopy of Euonymus wilsonii. Splitting apart into even segments revealing the red coated aril. A spectacular find at this time of year; just prior to bud burst and a new season commencing.

This woody shrub is found within forest scrub from 1000 – 2600 metres altitude on hillsides in western China.

Well worth growing here as a vigorous shrub with an open canopy reaching 3+ metres. Covered in shiny green leaves, simple in shape leading down to an elongated drip tip, edged with an uneven indent.

Euonymus wilsonii. Photo by Tony Garn

Euonymus wilsonii

Euonymus wilsonii. Photo by Tony Garn

Euonymus wilsonii

Dec 292009
 
Winter scene

Winter scene

A year of snowfall; snow fell of a quality not seen in Edinburgh for several years. On the 9th February; we even resorted to attaching the snow plough to the front of the tractor. It was six years previously when we last used the snowplough in the garden.

Following the melt we were rewarded with the best flowering season for Rhododendron, Magnolia and Bluebells for many years. Apart from a couple of mornings early in the season when blossom was damaged by early morning sun on frosted plants there were no other spoilt blooms.

The season continued with herbaceous flowering of an equally high standard. All in all the best flowering season that I can remember – ever.

May was cold and dry; the soil took a long time to warm up but the weed seeds germinated just to prove there is life in the soil. Then the 29th dawned, the sun rose at 4.30 am and burnt a continuous groove in the sunshine recording card until a cloud passed at 6.50pm and then shone briefly again for a further 15 minutes.

The following day this was beaten; continuous sunshine from 4.30am until 7.20pm with a maximum temperature of 24.9oc. Was it this combination of weather that allowed the production of much cuckoo spit; evident from late May through June?

Following the max. temp of the year on 2 July of 29.9oc, (only beaten by the 5th August 1975 at 30oc), the summer became warm and humid with the usual torrential rainfall we now expect. Following 36 hours of continuous rain during August a Betula utilis collapsed with a rotted root plate. A changing climate? This is the fourth year now where the European monsoon drenches us through August with torrential rain brought in by westerly winds from the Atlantic. Thereafter we then experience long dry Indian summers. This year lasting well into late October.

The weather pattern stabilised in September. Autumn colour started very early with good leaf tints from mid September; Betula, Sorbus and Euonymus leading the way.

The first V formation of Geese passed overhead, flying south, on the last day of September. The first white ground frost in the morning of Saturday 17th October added ambiance to the exceptional autumn colour.

November was wet. The highest November rainfall for two decades. In total 125.6mm of rain fell throughout the month. Since 1990 only November 2000 produced more than 100mm of rain (103.3mm). The ground was sodden and still is. It makes horticulture difficult to practice when soil becomes unworkable with this level of rainfall and unpleasant to work outdoors.

Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum

The Garden experienced the first snow of the winter on 17th December and then it just kept snowing. It is unusual to have such a prolonged snowfall at the end of the year and makes for a long winter. Deep cold will sort the wheat from the chaff with regard to survival of dubiously hardy plants. The reliable Winter Jasmine,

is a winner no matter what the climate throws at it. This is the one to draw the wallet from the pocket when contemplating a purchase. Other members of the genus may exude a delightful perfumed scent but will not flower with such reliability.

With the soil sodden and largely unworkable; what to do? Concentrate your mind on herbs. How many times do we realise at the last minute that a selection of herbs is essential to add flavour to the Christmas dinner? How many times do we reach for the dried shop bought version? Pulling long forgotten bottles from the back of the cupboard. Now is the time to draw up the selection of herbs to be planted in 2010 within easy reach of the kitchen door or in the window box on the kitchen window ledge. To the staples; Rosemary, Bay, Thyme and Mint can be added the more tender and annual members of the group; Sage, Parsley, Dill, Coriander. Read and research in the warmth of your home and be ready to sow and plant with lengthening days.

Best wishes for the New Year and successful cultivation through 2010.

Oct 172008
 
Euonymus sieboldianus

Euonymus sieboldianus

Mid October traditionally sees the start of the autumn colour. Until now a few trees have turned, notably Aesculus and Betula providing the traditional sound of walking and kicking through the deciduous leaf carpet. From now on the colours will intensify especially with lower temperatures. After a frosty night as the temperature rises with the onset of daylight the abscission layer breaks and there is literally a storm of falling leaves.

Treat each as a transient work of art and appreciate the daily changes.

Euonymus sieboldianus

Euonymus sieboldianus

This Japanese Euonymus sieboldianus positioned in an elevated focal point is always a good starter for the kaleidoscope of the season’s colours. Now a mass of red pigment the ovate leaves drop rapidly.

Found growing in association with Sasa, Viburnum, other species of Euonymus and Ulmus in Japan in full sun in moist heavy loam within a north east facing valley bottom.

Oct 102007
 
Parrotia persica

Parrotia persica

The autumn colours on the deciduous tree canopy are now reaching their best. The yellows of the Betula and Hamamelis collections, reds of the Sorbus and Euonymus species are all evident in the Parrotia persica whose canopy colour ranges from yellow through orange to an intense red.

Walking past the Cercidiphyllum japonicum and C. magnificum growing in various locations throughout the garden the sweet smell of decay is evident, this emanates from the rotting leaf litter around the base of the plant.

However in amongst these giants is a herbaceous treasure which colours up to rival any of the woody specimens; Euphorbia jolkinii collected during 1996 in Yunnan, China by Derek Beavis and John Main. The stems deepen to a vibrant red with leaf colour to match. Growing in the border at the alpine wall and near the ting on the Chinese hillside.

Sep 252007
 
Euonymus sanguineus

Euonymus sanguineus

A visit to Dawyck, to see the start of the Autumn colour is recommended.

The Horse Chestnuts are leading the field but the most intense colour is provided by the Chinese species Euonymus sanguineus. Deep red leaves cover the top tier of this deciduous shrub permeating down to green beneath. The seed pod will split to reveal red and then yellow seed.