In a vase on Monday: October

In todays vase are my red and orange dahlias.  I don’t know what sort these are, I bought them as £1 bargain tubers from Wilkos about four years ago and have been amazed they have done so well.  They never get lifted in the winter and yet go from strength to strength each year.  The vase is also a Home Bargains bargain. (bargain = something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist).

I fell out with the deep velvety red dahlias for a while as as I found the colour so hard to match with any other flower combinations. But a chance combination showed me that you need to go vibrant, not try to tone them down, and they sing when paired with rich purples and hot oranges.  Here they are with purple sweet peas and a delphinium (casualty of the wind), but they also look really well with dark purple buddleia and orange crocosmia.   This isn’t the best photo as I was caught out by the nights drawing in so early and lost the natural daylight.

As ever, thanks to Cathy over at Rambling in the Garden for hosting todays contributions, I recommend hopping over to her blog to see everyone else’s Autumnal efforts.

In other garden news I have reached rock bottom with my wisteria sinensis.  I parted with quite a lot of money a few years ago to buy a mature five foot plant that already had flowers on it. You can just see a couple of knee high blooms in the photo, which is the most flowery its ever been.

I chose a nice sunny spot next to the outhouse and planted it against the wall, tied to horizontal vine wires for support and waited for it to romp away. The books describe sinensis as a very vigorous variety and most of the information written about it is all about how to rein it in.

A few months after it was planted we had strong winds and the top foot snapped off in the wind.  The next year the main V split so I taped it back together with lollipop sticks and electrical tape.  I thought it was cooking against the hot south-facing wall as the side stems became brittle and broke over summer. Every time there were strong winds it would snap or split and three years on it was still no bigger than it was when I bought it.  The gales in July of this year were the final straw and the main stem snapped badly. 

As I peeled it tattered remains away from the wall I realised the problem. I had fixed the vine wires a centimetre or two proud of the stone wall and attached the wisteria to them, but a combination of a windy corner site, shiny metal vine wires and a lumpy wall of Yorkshire grit meant the wind rubbed the stems back and forth across the sandpaper rough stone, seriously weakening the back of the stems.  I found places rubbed and worn through, with scars and fresh wounds all the way down the stem. No wonder it has been so prone to snapping and splitting.

After some indecision I cut it off below the lowest rubbed portion (practically to the ground) and put up some trellis to protect the stem from the wall.  The trellis is a piece of old steel re-bar that used to be a safety grill on the pond, and I’ve fixed it to the wall with wooden struts to keep the stems well clear of the stone.

I have given the wisteria a good water and mulch and it has very bravely sent out a tiny green shoot. I usually feel quite optimistic when things start shooting but this plant has had so much bad luck I really don’t know if it has the strength the raise itself from the dead.  Time will tell.

3 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday: October

  1. Lovely combination, and one I wouldn’t have through would have worked either. I may need to get braver about combining my dahlias too.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your pretty vase, Claire. I agree that this sort of burgundy red goes well with the orange, particularly at this time of year – I compromise with colours in the garden here by having colour themed borders but cutting bed where anything goes. The joy gained from gazing at the abundance of colour in the latter is one of the benefits I had not foreseen from cutting beds. I am amazed that you can keep your dahlias in the ground in Sheffield – do you mulch them at all? And you still have sweet peas even after a long hot summer! So sorry to read about your wisteria and hope that your remedial work will have resolved the issue. Would you not consider moving it to a less windy wall, if you have one? Our wisteria took 6 years to flower, but it had at least grown a fair amount in that time

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