I used to have an enormous Acanthus spinosus in the middle of my garden, in the left flower bed, just in front of the large camellia. If you don’t know this plant it is one of those you either say ‘ugh’ when you see or you smile and find interesting at first sight. I suppose I belonged to the last group, I really love anything unusual, and it doesn’t come more unusual than Acanthus spinosus!
Every summer it sends up these really tall, prickly spikes with so unusual flowers, like nothing else you have seen. Last year I had THIRTEEN flower spikes on my Acanthus, a record in my garden.
This year my Acanthus sent up its leaves like usual during the spring and started to send up spikes, but then the leaves got this horrible powdery mildew. I tried spraying it.
And I sprayed some more, then some more. Then I gave up. I have had this Acanthus for 9 years and some of the enjoyment had gone. I have taken all the photos I want, I have seen all there is too see – while the plant has grown bigger and bigger and taken over a larger and larger part of the bed. I decided to get rid of the whole thing.
Now, usually getting rid of a plant means digging it up and putting it in the compost bin and planting something else in the space. Not so with this thug. I have read that even the tiniest piece of root can make it re-grow to the same size, and if you leave two pieces of roots – you guessed it, then you’ll get TWO plants, where you once had just one! I am keeping an eye out and will not plant anything here for a few years, just have containers in this space and try to get rid of anything that pops up. I am not starting an Acanthus nursery, nope!
Oh, by the way, the pots in the foreground are the fuchsias I tried to rescue from spider mites earlier this summer by taking their leaves off. It worked well on the dahlias and hydrangeas, but I am sad to report that the fuchsias in the pots did not recover, they are all gone to the big compost heaven now. Instead I have now filled this space with my newly acquired daylilies which all are still in pots, they very conveniently managed to squeeze in all on the edge here.
While I was ripping out plants anyway I took out some old tulip bulbs and some daffodils that had stopped flowering because it is too shady right here, so I got myself a very decent empty space. I love empty flower beds, what can I put in here?!
Oh, don’t worry, empty flower beds don’t stay empty for long in my garden! I had a white anemone in a pot that was desperate to get a permanent space in the ground and here in this shady, dark space it will be perfect. I also had 10 white giant oriental lilies in pots around the garden, and so was the idea of my all-white flower bed borne! I bought 3 Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding' (white with deep black eye) a Viola sororia 'Albiflora' and one of the daylilies I got on my plant swap is also placed here, Hemerocallis ‘Nanuq’.
The pink pot at the far end is an Aster ageratoides ‘Ashvi’ which I got at my plant swapping, it is still a small plant but once out of its pot it will probably be growing fast and put up a big show next autumn with pure white flowers. I have also ordered some new plants....yep, couldn’t resist those autumn sales, got a delivery on the way to me and one of the plants is a Dicentra formosa 'Aurora' which is also going in this bed, right in front of the lilies in the previous photo, behind the bird bath. Not sure if I can manage to squeeze in more white plants, but if I can, I have many Primula vulgaris I can dig up and dot in around. I also have a Hosta 'Patriot' and a Hosta 'So Sweet' that I hope to put in here and by then I think this bed will be more than filled with white flowers in all seasons!
At the moment the anemone is flowering like mad, this was actually one I dug up from a friend’s garden when he was moving out, it had come as a seed from someone else’s garden so I have no idea which variety it is, I only know it is an Anemone japonica.
The white flowers really light up this dark part of my garden, it has been flowering for 6 weeks already and shows no sign of slowing down. Not bad for a free-bee coming over the fence?! I can’t wait for my white flower bed to start flowering next spring and summer, I hope everything goes to plan!
And now for a few photos to show that autumn has well and truly arrived here in London, despite that we had 22 degrees C (71 F) today and much nicer weather than many of the days back in August.
This is two of my Bonsai trees, I absolutely love making Bonsai trees from things that are totally not meant to grow as Bonsais! These are made from Parthenocissus henryana and are 9 years old. You might know this plant as Chinese Virginia creeper and one of its characteristics is that the leaves change from green to deep red in the autumn, before the leaves fall off.
I love the old character these trees have got over the years, with the moss and everything.
Look at those gnarly trunks. They are really easy to care for. I just give them water when I water the rest of the garden, and some weak fertiliser a few times in the spring. I change the compost and snip off half the roots every 3 years. That’s it. They stay outdoors all year and I seriously don’t run around with those speciality clippers all the time! Mine get a snip with my secateurs every spring if they need it, but at this ripe old age they don’t grow much anymore.
Another fun plant in my garden right now is the Physalis alkekengi var. Franchettii or Chinese Lantern. It has grown like mad this year so I think I need to split this clump next spring, possibly in 4. I have not got space for more than one so if anyone want a mature clump please let me know!
The lanterns are mostly orange, although the plant is still making new flowers. Next month these lanterns will turn see-through and look almost like made of gold, like Christmas decoration!
I haven’t shown my clematises here for a while, they are tricky to photograph as most of the flowers are no longer on the actual plant, they are on the camellia next to it, masses of them!
This is Clematis texensis 'Gravetye Beauty' and it will go on flowering until we get frost nights.
Clematis texensis 'Gravetye Beauty'.
Some of my fuchsias have done a great comeback after the spider mite attach, most of the older fuchsias in the ground survived fine, they just needed to grow back their leaves and set some new flowers. This is Mrs Popple, hanging over one of my many Primula vulgaris, still in flower for the 13th month in a row! September is when Primula vulgaris should start to flower again, after having had a break over the summer, but all mine have flowered constantly since last September so I’m not sure what got into mine – they just never stopped!
My roses are still going strong on their second flush, very late, but with this nice weather and the very late first flush they had that’s to be expected. They will probably go on flowering like this until we get down to pretty chilly nights and then it will slow down – but flowering will never stop completely until I cut down the roses in February.
I am finishing this post with one of my favourite roses which is flowering again now, one of the David Austin roses 'Wildeve'.
Autumn is a great time in my garden, I haven’t really got much of the typical ‘prairie’ plants or even ‘autumn’ plants, my garden isn’t big enough for that, instead I try to find plants that flower for a long time – well into autumn.
Next time I’ll show you my dahlias....until then, take care.