At Lawson Park garden there are a few valiant plants still flowering through the recent hurricanes, worth listing here because as the saying goes 'if it works here it'll work anywhere'. Unlike the last two Novembers we have yet to see a hard frost:
Caltha palustris (the marsh marigold - one of the first flowers here and determined to be the last), clematis 'Black Prince' (pruned very late hence flowering very late), buddleia weyerania (a yellow globular form of the butterfly bush), prunus subhirtella autumnalis (a cherry), annual marigolds (calendula) and rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm', and irrepressible yellow daisy-like perennial (pictured).
Good autumn colour in the form of bark, berries etc is found in cornus alba (common dogwood), salix alba vitillina (yellow willow), stephanandra tanakae (a Japanese shrub we have grown from seed). Viburnum opulus (our native guelder rose) keeps its beautiful red berries much longer than anything else.
These last few months waiting, getting excited about the new arrivals and now we discover that Octavia our pig is no longer pregnant. It seems likely that she was pregnant as she stopped coming into season after being served by a boar back in July. This would have made her due next week but because her mammary glands never developed, we have had to come to the conclusion that she lost her litter. From talking to Carole Barr, whose boar we borrowed to cover Octavia, she must have re-absorbed her pregnancy. This sounds quite gruesome but actually it makes sense for mammals that produce large numbers of offspring. If there's a problem with say just one embryo, rather than the whole litter being aborted, that one embryo can be reabsorbed into the body and the others can carry on to full-term.
From looking online, it doesn't seem that uncommon for a pig to lose her litter this way, but in proper pig business this translates financially as 'empty days' and the aim is to minimise empty days. This is done by either slaughtering the unproductive animal or taking it back to the boar as soon as the re-absorbtion is discovered. Fortunately we don't have to think in these terms as she's not our cash cow, so I think we will minimise her empty days by getting another grower in to keep her company. We'll take her to the boar soon and aim for a spring litter.
... so make the most of it.
During recent rainy weather a nice local signwriter has been at last inscribing our Library Manifesto on an interior wall.
An as-yet-unpublished area of our web site here - and one that would make Kew Gardens even greener with envy - is a plant database designed by Dorian Moore for us, and to wihch I have just added the 342nd plant entry.
It's all very clever, with maintenance info I can update for future LP gardeners, pictures and even notes on edibility. I promise that one day we will publish it. Promise.