A Northumberland Alpine Gardener's Diary
This entry: 22 October 2006 by John Richards
Northumberland Diary. Entry 10.
It never rains, but they fall
It must have been cold while we were down south last week, because as I said in the last entry the leaves have really started to colour over the last few days. Concomitantly, the down side of all this splendour is that the leaves are also starting to fall off! This is a big deal in this tree-girt garden; leaf-gathering is one of the main annual tasks, and takes several days of hard physical labour. The good news is all the leafmould I make, material for new beds and plantings. The bad news is that I only have one leafmould dump, and another place alongside where the one year old material has to be turned and shifted, ready for use. I can't gather leaves until I have spent a vigorous hour, shifting several hundred kilos of last years rottings. One of the prettier small trees here is the small Japanese maple Acer crataegifolium.
Bearing in mind the character of this garden, I should perhaps grow more of the deciduous Ericaceae, as many colour magnificently. Vaccinium corymbosum is one of the best at present.
An unlikely gesneriad
I used to struggle with the 'chinese foxglove', Rehmannia elata, reputed to grow on walls and roofs in old Beijing. Then I put a bit in the sand plunge of my more shady alpine house (unheated) and it has never looked back, creeping around and flowering most months of the year. It is a magnificent beast, but seems to resent the confinement of a pot, or indeed any decent compost, seeming to thrive on pure sand and water. It is said to be a gesneriad rather than a Scroph(ulariaceae), so not really a foxglove at all, something I find hard to believe.
Two more crocuses
I thought I would finish with a couple of crocuses, as I still have ten or so different species in flower (is this a contribution to the invited debate as to which week of the year the final Show of the AGS should fall?). First, here is the Greek wild relative of the saffron crocus, Crocus cartwrightianus, and then the southern Spanish C. nevadensis from moderate altitudes in that great range of mountains.