Autumn reflections

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The Pond, looking north to the Policies, reflecting Rowan (Sorbus) and Acer species

Not a lot of interest over at the pond now. The water is cooling and the water lilies have finally finished blooming. And yet, on a calm day, it provides a looking glass for the world above.

This has been a wonderful autumn and it’s hard to believe that we’re now in November. The combination of comparatively warm nights for much of October, (just 10 days or so ago, the overnight temperature held at 14 degrees, warmer than  most summer nights), dampness and relatively few winds have kept the leaves on most of the trees for much longer. We are seeing some wonderful colours from our Birch and the Beeches along the drive, and this Acer ‘Crimson King’ which usually drops it leaves very soon after colouring up. Meanwhile the larches on the other side of the walls are only just starting to adopt their golden autumnal mantle.

The last few nights, though, have been noticeably colder and some of the larger trees, such as the sycamores, have now shed most of their leaves. Leaf-raking season is upon us!

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… and looking south over the fields, with Acer ‘Crimson King’ in the background. Under the trees, in the long grass, is a ‘toad hotel’ of old rotting logs!

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close-up of Acer ‘Crimson King’

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Beyond the pond looking north-west to the Beeches on the drive. The yellow tree is an Ash.

Autumn Gold

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Fraxinus, the Ash

For this week’s autumn colour, the Ash (Fraxinus) takes centre-stage. They have transformed in the last 7 days or so from mid-green to bright yellow. We have a smallish tree in the garden but there is a large one on the Estate and this is the one I’ve pictured. It stands out like a beacon amongst the other trees and, even if the sun is not shining, it creates the effect that it is. But when the sun does come out, the effect is outstanding!  This has got to be one of my favourite autumn treats!

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Cotoneaster (species unknown)

The season of seed-setting, berry-forming and fruit-bearing is well underway now. The cotoneasters are looking particularly good at the moment with red berries a-plenty. This is a great family of shrubs as, following the berry season, you invariably have wonderful autumn foliage colours to enjoy – all shades of red, orange and gold. Walking past our sunflower border yesterday, I noticed that some small creatures (birds, maybe field mice) have been extracting some of the new seeds from the dinner plate-sized flower heads. Sunflower seeds are high in fat content so this should help to see the diners through the winter!

One family of plants that does very well here, providing a floral show from August to the first frosts are the Japanese anemones. They have attractive foliage and seed heads too and seem to do very well in deep shade.

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Anemone hupehensis ‘Praecox’

But floral longevity isn’t everything. There’s a lot to be said for the seasonal show-stoppers offered by the bulb family – short blasts of temporary interest. I’m quite a fan of the Colchicum family – Autumn crocuses we used to call them, not to be confused with the true crocuses that also flower in the autumn. We’ve grown varieties like ‘Water Lily’ (pink, double-flowered) in our other gardens, but here we have the simple C. album – pure white with yellow stamens. In the spring, I discovered a large clump at the back of the herbaceous border and transplanted some to front -of-border positions elsewhere. Happily these are now flowering, showing that the transplants have been successful. The only downside? Large green strappy leaves that come through in the spring, but they don’t last for too long. Small price to pay, perhaps, for the flowers-only show in the autumn!

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Colchicum album

Fewer insects around now in the garden, although the ‘Indian Summer’ has been kind to those that remain. Just last weekend, we saw a large dragonfly hovering over the pond, looking as if it was laying its eggs. A good number of butterflies, now mainly Peacocks and Red Admirals, can still be seen on a wind-free sunny day, particularly enjoying the Verbena bonariensis. Indeed, this is a popular food plant for bees, particularly Bumbles, which now appear a little more lethargic.

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Verbena bonariensis (with diner!)

As hinted above, September and October to date have been warm, generally dry months, but for how much longer? While tempting to leave it until November 5th, the Good Lady yesterday pressed on with having a bonfire to remove all the brash taken from the lime- trees last month, conjuring up memories of previous autumn bonfires from our childhoods…

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Fires in the fall

Autumn colours

Autumn has arrived here in the garden. Some of the trees just drop their leaves without any fanfare, others really go to town. The ash, for example, has turned a marvellous butter yellow, standing out in the gloom of a dull, rainy afternoon. The larches protecting the walled garden will shortly take on this baton of colour as the autumn advances.

Autumn Leaves In The Walled Garden

The cherries and our dark-red acer too are glowing in all shades of orange, yellow and red.Despite some very cold nights, some of the bedding is still hanging on, although interestingly the dahlias – Diablo – inside the walled garden have fared less well than those – Bishops Children – in the kitchen garden, which is located outside the walls! The sweet peas remain untouched as does the Cosmos that survived the storms of a couple of weeks ago. The kitchen garden has never been better this autumn, with a very late blooming buddleia and last year’s sowing of Verbena bonariensis and Eryngium really performing well.

Most of the herbaceous is now over elsewhere in the garden, although our 6’ Rudbeckia still continues to push out its cheerful big yellow daisies and the nerines with their exotic pink blooms seem to defy the autumn frosts. The roses take full advantage of the mild spells, although the rain this year has not seen them at their best.

When the rain stops, it will be time to start strimming down the long grass in the policies