Monday, 24 November 2014



The summer is but a distant memory and we watch weather forecasts for the first signs of snow, but wander around the garden on a sunny November day and just marvel at how so many plants just want to keep flowering. As gardeners, we have to work with the seasons so next springs bedding plants and bulbs needed planting, but the summer bedding plants they were replacing were very reluctant to die down. Tuberous begonias were dug out while still full of flowers and geraniums may not be at their best, but they are still full of colour. Even African marigolds still think it is summer so I have left some in the bed with wallflower plants now crowding them out.
Both climbing roses and bush roses still have many buds in full flower and as long as the frost stays away they should continue to bloom.

Fuchsia Mrs Popple has no idea that winter will soon be here. She still thinks it is summer and continues to flower her wee heart out. Cosmos was quite late to flower this year but is now making up for lost time. Climate change seems to throw many plants into a state of confusion. Mahonia Charity normally flowers in February, but it is in full flower now, and my Chaenomeles (Cydonia) has started to flower. It is very welcome, but this is not his time.
Snowdrops are pushing up into the light, but hopefully they will hang on a wee bit longer before flowering. They started to flower in January early on this year.
Back into the home, the late season house plants have all come into life. There is always a great selection available to brighten up the winter months. House plants have evolved over time.
My first memory of a plant being brought into the house was way back in the 1950s when my mother was gifted an Aspidistra. It got pride of place in the hall at the top of a dark stairway. It added to the gloom. It was ugly and no matter how much ill treatment we gave it, it thrived till years later as fashions changed it got replaced with a rubber tree plant but placed in a brighter room.

Then along came the Cheese Plant, Spider Plant, Begonia Rex and a whole range of foliage plants. For flowers in the home we had pot mums and cyclamen, and for Christmas the Poinsettia was, (and still is) compulsory. They really are show stoppers. However the Christmas cactus is also a favourite during the festive season, and if you get lucky with the growing techniques it will flower twice or even three times about a couple of months apart. Immediately after flowering dry them off but keep them in a warm sunny room. If another set of flower buds start to form recommence with the watering. This will bring on another flush of flowers, then repeat the process but only if more flower buds form, otherwise do not water unless they start to shrivel.

Other favourite pot plants which I grow on are the Impatiens (Busy Lizzie) and my geraniums. These are started from cuttings taken from garden plants in early autumn then potted up in November where they will flower for several weeks. Geraniums on a sunny windowsill can be in flower continuously all winter. Japanese dwarf azaleas are also quite popular at this time of year, but to keep them flowering and healthy do not let them dry out and place them in a cool room on a window sill that does not get much sun.
We have a dwarf Orange Tree that produces scented flowers in summer followed by small oranges in autumn and winter. It is very easy to grow but watch out for scale insects which are attracted to the lush green leaves.

Painting of the month
Dalwhinnie Distillery is an oil painting on canvas. The festive season is a great time to show winter landscape paintings, as if this winter proves to be like the last very mild winter, it may be the only place to find some snow. This and other snow scenes are currently on display at the West End Gallery on the Perth Road in Dundee.


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