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A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens

This entry: Autumn 2013 by Alan Oatway

Deluges of various sorts have disrupted my contributions lately. A deluge of different activities and tasks is mainly to blame, causing the camera to be left at home on the very day that photography might be possible in the gardens. And traditional Lakeland deluges - warm October air crossing seas warmed by a good summer has certainly caused some large raindrops, so that when the camera did make it, the floriferous display of autumn gentians looked far from its best. And who can fail to be distracted by days like this Monday, when gardening had to take a back seat as the light and colour in the National Park was just superb.

Into November, and although ornamental Acers are showing all their spendour, many native broadleaf trees are only just beginning to turn, as can be seen in the background across Brothers Water. With the fellside bracken adding to the warm tones, it is a great time of year to be out and about. I mentioned the Acers, and that favourite, A. palmatum "Osakazuki" shows that is well worth its AGM in the foreground of Holehird, the Leonard Cheshire Home.

Are the gable ends colour co-ordinated?

And what of alpines. As I mentioned, the autumn gentians have been battered somewhat, although they have flowered in profusion this year, and so they do not make for good photographs. Today, after some frosts this week, the Saxifraga fortunei plantings on the Lower Terrace have gone over a little - they were superb - but there are still many of the smaller, mainly pink cultivars to be found for those who search the Rock Garden carefully. My preference remains for the species, and this can still be found looking very good by the cascade.

We don't always have enough bulbs in the gardens, the main reason having four legs and a longish tail! Nevertheless, October did see both Crocuses and Colchicumc adding colour to both borders and grassed areas.

The approaching winter has some of our effort turned to protection. Today, I covered plants of Meconopsis superba - no way do I want to lose these wonderful rosettes to the wet before they produce their flowers - and also plantings of Primulas chionantha and "Tantallon". It is not strictly necessary for the first of the Primulas, but better safe than sorry.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time to attend to the Cardiocrinums. We are trying to build up the number of plants of these fabulous lilies, and we have seedlings growing away for a few years hence. We also feel it is safer to lift the dying spike of the old plants and pot up the small offsets to get new plants more quickly, lest these offsets should rot in the dying remains of the parent. The offsets tucked away under just one plant are shown next: the smallest of these were absolutely underneath their parent, and I feel sure they would not have lasted.

Zooming in on this image confirms that there are 13 bulbs of various sizes - a very worthwhile harvest. This year, for the first time, we also had flowers on C.giganteum var. yunnanense. This produced far fewer offset bulbs, as expected, and the differing fruits are shown next -  this variety on the right before the 10p coin for scale.

And to conclude, a final piece of autumn colour - Euonymus alatus in early October, herald of things to come!

I'll be back in the Spring, till then there's major work to do on the Rock Garden.

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