It’s been a mad week: A wedding coming up this weekend, so clothes etc. to sort out, family to gather up from universities, food to prepare for an autumn feast at work, plus a special birthday to attend.
On Monday we travelled down to Kent to celebrate my Mum’s 80th birthday, taking with us a fragrant quince polenta cake and a bunch of (probably the last of) this season’s bright blooms in hand.
We are forecast a proper frost tonight, then wet and blustery weather going forward, so it was a pleasure to cut the flowers, bring them inside and share them around to enjoy them for a little longer. The cosmos (Dazzler) that was so late to show its face is the star of the show now. It’s a billowing cloud of brilliant pink. But I’ve also been enjoying watching the cactus-flowered zinnias unfurl. In appearance they are like little fireworks going off, with their uneven, cut and rolled petals.
Prior to everything becoming a soggy wet mess this weekend I’ve been stripping the seed heads off many of the plants in the garden, drying them off and then extracting the seeds to store in bags, pots and envelopes. In truth, many of the seeds start out shoved into bits of tissue in my jeans pockets before being removed at wash time. It makes a good lesson in seed recognition as many of them just end up in the bottom, jumbled together. I’ve found that useful help in identifying seeds, pods and (if you’ve gone one step further) seedlings can be found at http://theseedsite.co.uk/
My radish crop bolted ages ago, but I left them to flower with the intention of using the seed pods later. The flowers turned out to be an unexpectedly pretty pink (like Lady’s smock or the cuckoo flower). I’ve got a fair number of good sized pods now, so I am harvesting them.
You can eat the seedpods raw in salads or, as I am going to try, make them into pickles. This looks like a tasty recipe here on You Grow Girl. In fact if you decide you like them then you can grow an heirloom variety called ‘Rat’s tails’ which is known for its exceptionally large tender pods.
This week’s star of the garden award and pollinator magnet has to go to Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Lady in Black’. It was planted last year, but has now become a thicket of looping limbs covered in tiny pale pink stars.
The flowers contrast beautifully with the dark stems and leaves. It has been absolutely covered in honey bees this week, whenever the sun shone.
The Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) is colouring up very nicely in a dark corner of the garden. It has a good crop if translucent red berries. Hopefully the birds will enjoy these during the autumn/winter.
They are supposed to be particularly attractive to bullfinches and mistle thrushes.
And finally, just starting into flower this week is a lovely dusky pink chrysanthemum called ‘Emperor of China’. I really love it’s spooned petals and how it sparkles when it wakes up covered in dew, as here:
Cold weather will turn the leaves a wonderful magenta red, but it is a balance because the flowers are delicate and will be ruined if too severe.
This is my contribution to the meme Six-on-Saturday, ably led to great things and a swelling number of participants by The Propagator. Check out this link to read Six from the man himself and then on around the world. It’s hard to resist …
Thanks for your link about seeds ID. Very instructive and useful. About your Six, I’m like you fond of the chrysanthemum… gorgeous !
Thanks Fred! The leaves of ‘Emperor of China’ have gone a wonderful wine red colour since the frost, so it is looking even more stunning now.
A beautiful six! The Viburnum and ‘Emperor of China’ are standouts. We’re having rain and wind today, which is taking down a lot of the coloured leaves. The brightening of the canopy in the woods always surprises me. It’s such a contrast to the leafy summer one.
Thanks. Canopy changes do feel dramatic as they seem to happen over night both in spring and autumn. I appreciate the extra light, but not the lack of protection from the elements! Has it been a good year for colour for you?
It has been an unusual year for color. The sugar maples and ash in the region have some kind of brown leaf fungus where they turn brown and fall off early in the season without coloring up. Disappointing to say the least, since sugar maples generally blaze. A warm Sept. prolonged the green so the rest of the trees have been slowly turning; the forest interiors still have hidden treasures of red maple, birch and beech. Oaks are next. It is kind of nice, no big bang, but a lot of beauty to be found in pockets.
Ah, that’s sad for the sugar maples. We are seeing a similar slow burn here. Some cherries coloured up early and fast, but the birches and acers are struggling to find any change before falling.
What a beautiful six! I didn’t know about radish seeds, so I found that very interesting. I like ‘Lady in Black’ with the unpronounceable name!
Thanks. Think I found out about radishes from a student cookbook (ie how to eat cheaply)! Seem to remember pickling nasturtium seeds too. It has been a while since I’ve tried though. Ah yes, the lovely ‘Lady in Black’ Symphyotrichum formerly known as Aster. Not a helpful name change! Bit like sedum’s new name too.
Yes, the info about radishes was so interesting. You’ve got a lot of colour & interest in your autumn garden. Definitely will look at Lady in Black!
I love it when I discover that I can get even more out of a crop or plant … like cutting a cross in the remaining stalk of a cropped cabbage to get extra heads! I agree that the Lady is a winner, for sure.
You do that seed thing too, my pockets are full of them. Polenta quince cake sounds good. I have so many quinces I don’t know what to do with them all.
Pockets full of tissues full of seeds are a wonderful source of embarrassment! This week I’ve managed to mix armeria with scabious, so I’ve got no chance of separating them. Good luck with your quince. I have a friend who bottles most fruit excesses, but I’ve never got my head round sterilizing and sealing jars in large boiling pots for some reason. I’d definitely recommend the quince polenta cake though.
I’ve picked all my tender flowers because the frost are here in Manchester. I like your vibernum – I am looking for one for my garden. I’ve got urban flowers and trees from around Manchester for my six on saturday – street art bees too 🙂
Enjoy the last of your flowers! I have done the same. Viburnums are a lovely choice for a garden. I love the scented ones, but V. opulus is so shiny and colourful at this time of year that I can’t resist it. Have fun choosing.