Thursday, 30 May 2013

Season of Slow Senescence

Autumn has been hot and cold, dry and now wet. Confusion reigns in the garden as spring flowers throw bouquets of white May (Spiraea, above) amongst the bedraggled flaming leaves, Mock Orange (Philadelphus) sport perfumed blooms near dogwoods with sanguine foliage (turning ruby when the sun peeps out) and even a tall evening primrose shows some of its delicious lemon colour.

Most of the tiny bulbous treasures of autumn are over now but Cyclamen cyprium continues to toss up its sweet little near-white blooms with swept-up petals over white-splashed leaves; and creamy white hoop petticoat daffodils herald the winter months.

Salvias continue the display of soft purple, deep blue or velvet-palest pink (`Velour Pink’) with `Anthony Parker’, darkly blue, coming into its own.
Autumn regulars arrived last month: lilac Spur-flower (Plectranthus, a great plant for shade); dainty apple-blossom, candy-pink and ice-white Nerines were joined by sparkling engine-red (`Fothergilla Major’) and sweet daisy-faces of grape-purple Easter-daisies and snowy cosmos. Kaffir lily (Schizostylis), fierce red or pale pink, never rests, but I find the white form much less hardy.

But it’s mostly just a flower here or there. Most satisfying is, still, my sun and sky bed where, at the moment,  blue salvias – deep blue and azure – mix with golden Gaillardia `Mesa’, lemon Phygelius and Goldmound Bidens; all are backed by the glossy leaves and perfumed white flowers of Mexican Orange Blosssom.

It seems almost too early to have winter flowers of palest pink Thryptomene let alone spring treasures: sweetly pink Erodium, some deep blue bugle (Ajuga, its flowers mostly nestling amongst the leaves), even a few little Forget-Me-Not-like Brunnera blooms in the shadiest spot. Oddest of all, now that it’s so cold at night, is the one Cyclamen purpurescens tuber (below) with 4 flowers of soft lilac-pink, mouths deeper, almost fuchsia-pink, as if lipstick has been applied. Melbourne’s heat makes it flowers well in summer but these are a definite bonus, on the last day of autumn. I suspect it’s a response to the run of warm weather a month ago and I’m certainly not complaining! The garden throws up interesting conundrums constantly and when it’s extra flowers, I believe we should just sit back and enjoy them.

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