En route to Australia we spent two nights in Singapore. It is an extraordinary place and left and impression of fabulous botany and an amazing mix of ancient and contemporary architecture. It’s a long time since I have been somewhere that humid, so there was no racing from spot to spot, but in between retreating to air-conditioned interiors, we did visit both the Botanic Garden and the Gardens by the Bay and loved them both.
I’m about to depart these shores for the best part of a month (and will be blogging about my travels – wifi connections permitting) so I’ve been doing as much as I can to make sure that I come home to living plants. Despite the sudden arrival of cold weather, I’m reluctant to move the three citrus trees and a few other precious and fairly tender shrubs undercover where they would need to be watered regularly. Instead, I’ve put them on the lawn in the most sheltered and sunny corner of the garden where they should be happy till I get back. We very rarely get frosts here and I have moved the saucers from beneath the pots to make sure they don’t sit in water if it rains heavily. Elsewhere I’ve grouped potted plants together (again without saucers) so that they can create their own microclimate. Fingers crossed I’ll find them all thriving amongst the fallen leaves on my return.
The autumn plant fair at Dixter just gets better and better – and going there on a day of cloudless blue skies and warm sun made it particularly glorious. This year there were thirty-two stands including several specialist nurseries from Europe as well as the cream of the UK crop. For once I was very restrained about what I bought for the garden – a month’s absence concentrated my mind on buying a few things that I knew I could (and did) get planted – some young Orlaya plants that I’ve tucked into the borders and two Aster Betel Nut – tall with vibrantly pink flowers that are now adding a touch of oomph amongst the grasses. The only other plant I bought was a present for a friend – Magnolia ‘Kay Parrish’. Her twenty year old magnolia grandiflora has never flowered, whereas this 1.5metre tall shrub already had a flower bud. ‘Kay Parrish’ is renowned for growing into a compact and well-shaped tree that flowers from its earliest years. Fergus Garrett and his team have put together an event that rivals Courson outside Paris. The plants are top quality, the food was delicious and the garden itself was in its full autumn splendour. A lovely, lovely day out.
The magnolia grandiflora ‘Goliath’ continues to flower, but the blooms are near the top of the tree so I decided to pick one and bring it indoors where I could admire its beauty and fragrance close-up. It has been fascinating watching its slow metamorphosis from purest white perfection to parchment and beyond.
Earlier in the year a friend gave me a lovely Brugmansia (once known as Datura) complete with five flowers. Thanks to our long summer it has grown enormously and has burst into flower again – I’ve counted twenty flowers and buds. The scent in our courtyard in the evening is amazing. Once the cold weather arrives I will cut it back quite hard and keep it ticking over undercover for the winter.