Fires in the Fall

imageWhile some trees have shed most of their leaves, some are absolutely at their best now, aided by some very cold nights and not too much wind. I was out with the dogs earlier this morning and noticed that our beech avenue in the early morning sun was spectacular. We have 23 trees – a number of different varieties of Fagus sylvatica – and they have assumed the full gamut of firey colours – all shades of brown, reds, oranges and gold. Beeches seem to hold their leaves that little bit longer than most.

Outside the walled garden we have a shelter belt of mixed conifers including larch (Larix) and they have turned a marvellous gold colour, their needles showering down to lighten the soil in the borders.

imageThis afternoon we dropped in to Smeaton Nursery Gardens in East Linton – well worth a visit with a huge stock of shrubs and perennials. Most impressive, though, were the trees, many of which were showing outstanding autumn colours – liquidamber, cherry, Sorbus (rowan) in several varieties including an incredible pink-leaved one, crab apples with colourful red and yellow fruits, Cercis with its red, heart-shaped leaves… I could go on. Take time to look for some unusual conifers as well – definitely not your usual dwarf conifers!

Smeaton Nursery is set in a walled garden in the corner of an estate, the mansion long gone (sounds familiar!) and has maintained its charm despite its huge stock of plants (look out for the hand-written labels!), with greenhouses and potting sheds still there and used – there’s an excellent tea room there too serving very welcome hot-drinks, light meals and home-baking.

Oh, and half-way down the hill, look for the sign marking the entrance to the lake walk; set in the remains of a former quarry, this atmospheric and romantic sheltered lake is surrounded by majestic specimen trees, some very likely dating back to Victorian times. Look out for the Sequoia and some other huge conifers with a jungley and very Victorian understory of rhododendrons, bamboo and other shrubs In the late afternoon sunshine, the surface of the water was peppered with all colours of fallen leaves, giving the place a peaceful, almost Japanese feel. Well worth a visit…

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