Apples on a leafless apple tree, November 2004

Above: Apples against a blue sky, November 2004

Garden diary: October

12 November 2004

I know that many people like autumn, and look forward to Christmas, so they're probably feeling a lot more cheerful at this time of year than I am. And even though there are things in the garden providing some interest at this rather drab time of year, it's taken me a while to get around to writing this as I've been rather unmotivated.

I've just lit, here in the office at home, an incense stick with a scent which, the packet says, is for "motivation". I didn't buy them for this purpose, but I'll just hang on and see if I can feel any effect . . .

. . .

What I do want to mention now I'm here at the keyboard is the apple tree festooned with the white-flowered Solanum jasminoides 'Album'. The apple tree has lost its leaves now, but retains some of the apples higher up, the ones we can't reach. They're now fully ripe, and very brightly coloured, with a red flush on golden yellow, and are better than any flowers, when viewed from the upstairs window, where you get the best view. They're rather like baubles on a Christmas tree, but much more impressive, especially on a bright day when lit by the sun. And around the branches, the clusters of white solanum flowers.

Apple and solanum against blue November skySolanum jasminoides 'Album' and apple

The plant has climbed up into the tree as it does each year. Its leaves are rather boring and small, and so you don't notice how far it has spread until the leaves on the tree have dropped, and there it is, bright white flowers with small yellow centres, festooned all about the place. It has been flowering for months, but seems to take off at this time of year, or perhaps it is more that it stands out now the plants around it have finished their flowering. It looks startlingly fresh, while everything around it slumps into November drabness.

Well, not quite everything. There are berries on the pyracantha, and berries and flowers on the beautiful Viburnum tinus 'Gwenllian'. These two shrubs now grow close together on the garden wall facing south. They've intermingled in the way I'd hoped, and a Clematis 'President' twines up through them.

The pyracantha is a yellow-berried form, and it's really spread noticeably in this position. I've read in many books that pyracantha is fine on a north-facing wall, so following that advice I've got another pyracantha on a north wall. I have to mention that it would probably win a 'most disappointing plant award', as it has never flowered or produced berries (the one being dependent on the other, of course). It has now reached the roof of the outhouse wall and is growing above that point, so I'm wondering if it might flower and do the berrying thing now its top bit has got more light.

So the other pyracantha, which was originally in Kitchen Corner, I decided to move a couple of years ago up to the sunnier part of the garden, as the thought of two dull non-berrying pyracanthas was too much. The one on the south-facing wall is now so full of berries that I have to assume that pyracantha do prefer some sun.

Pyracantha berries

The viburnum hasn't caused me any problems. It just flowers and berries away in an exuberant non-bothersome fashion. Its berries are like little jewels, deep purple and shiny. It carries these while flowering at the same time, and it is flowering now, in grim November, like it's not noticed that everything else is dropping leaves and shrinking back towards the earth.

I think it might be time for a shameless plug, if Amazon sell this plant, possibly from Crocus . . . hang on a second while I check.


That's a shame, they don't. But I did discover that there's a whole load of roses with daft names, like 'Wee Cracker'. This sounds like something you might plant to stop cats peeing on your garden.

Plans afoot! (or rather, underfoot)

The garden needs some work, mainly resurfacing of the gravelled area in Kitchen Corner. I say gravel, but it's actually limestone chippings. Whatever I call it, it needs replenishing, at the very least. It has worn rather thin, got a bit muddy, and over the years rather clogged up with bits of old rotted leaves and other organic debris. I think it might be best to take up the stuff that's there, and put down a better surface to put the chippings back down on. I remember when I did the work initially, and put down the brick paving with the chippings around it, something called 'hoggin' was recommended for putting under loose chippings/gravel, but they didn't sell hoggin in handy bags down at Homebase or at the local hardware store, so I think I just used building sand.

You can of course get that black membrane, but I'm not sure I like the effect when it pokes up around the edges (or when the cats scratch it up when they use the chippings as a large deluxe litter tray), and I've noticed that it can sometimes feel like you're walking on old carrier bags with chippings on top.

Though if I'm being honest, it was more that I was too mean/poor to try some of what seemed like an unnecessary expense, and thought "Semi-permeable membrane?! Won't an old sheet do?" In fact maybe I did use an old sheet, come to think of it. It worked fine for years, until it obviously rotted and the worms found their way through. I'm sure I must have some more old sheets around and will probably raid the blanket box imminently.

In any case, something needs doing, as the area looks a bit grubby and unkempt otherwise.

. . .

As you can see, in the course of writing this I've moved from a position of being unmotivated and thinking I had nothing to say to writing a very long-winded page which ends up with me planning a rather large and arduous project. Whether this was to do with the incense sticks with the scent to inspire "Motivation", who can tell . . .

Back to November highlights and diaries


Berries - pyracantha and viburnum

Above: Berries of pyracantha and Viburnum tinus 'Gwenllian'.

Garden diary: December