Gardening: Balmy autumn confuses my shrubsBy Linda Fort
October 21, 2011
The front garden is having an identity crisis – unable to decide whether it is closing down for winter or waking up for spring.
The winter flowering shrubs are all beginning to blossom – some rather earlier than usual.
The Viburnum tinus, Choisya ternata and Mahonia japonica are all coming into flower.
The sweet, sweet-smelling Eleagnus x ebbingei is covered in tiny white flowers – almost invisible – which fill the garden with its secret scent.
But the poor stupid Rosa banksiae is also starting to flower.
Now this is probably a bad thing because this species of rose only flowers once – in spring.
My plant covering the front of the house is clearly under the illusion that it is spring. It is sending out shoots all over the place and now has a handful of flowers.
Normally at this time of year I give it one definitive haircut and it stops growing for the winter.
This year I have been leaning out of my bedroom window week after week giving it what I fondly imagine is the final trim, only to find it sending out a dozen more long tender fronds during the following week.
This rose has to be tidy for the winter because if it gets too big and bulky, it could easily be whipped off its securing wires by the winter winds. It needs to be neatly hugging the wall for protection. I had the ladder out to it two weekends ago pruning the long shoots out of reach of the bedroom window and now it needs another judicious clip.
Worst of all, this delicious early autumn sunshine which has fooled it into producing two or three flowers might dissuade it from flowering when it should, which would be tragic because its glorious season of foaming primrose yellow blooms is short enough as it is.
I love autumn, but golden autumn sunshine should be accompanied by a crisp coldness – this balmy warm late-summeriness has been all wrong.
Although perfectly happy with changeable weather, unpredictable seasons are more of a worry.
The changes in the weather in this temperate country are a wonderful thing and no doubt have played a part in forging the British character.
But we gardeners like our seasons to come in their proper order so that the continuing displays of flowers and foliage we try so desperately to stage manage have a small hope of success.