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

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Stretching Summer…

Beautiful day today, clear blue sky, 4 degrees C. Prompted me to wander round the garden with trusty smartphone to see whether anything was still in flower. Much to my surprise, there was quite a lot! Come with me on a virtual ramble…image

Cheating a little here, foliage not flowers, but the Cotoneaster horizontalis outside the back door has to be at its best at the moment with its autumn foliage colour, accompanied by a host of little red berries, much beloved by the local blackbird population!

imageContinuing out the side gate and round the south side of the house, the winter-flowering jasmine has come into bloom, and yes, the little yellow flowers really are that bright!

Round the south side of the house, this climbing rose is looking extremely healthy – not sure what variety it is, but imageit’s a fine shade of pink, contrasting well with the shrubby imageHypericum just a little further on with its cheery ‘pheasant’s eye’ blooms.

Round to the west side of the house, now and the sweet scent of the Viburnum bodantense ‘Dawn’ fills the air. This marvellous family of shrubs can be counted on to provide colour at the time of year we most need it; this one will flower right through the imagewinter months, not fazed at all by the chill winter snows.

Meanwhile the Japanese anemones imagenearby still keep on flowering – these are amazing herbaceous perennials and have been flowering continuously since late August.

And back into the walled garden via the main gate, past the rather interesting seed heads of the Turkish Sage (Phlomis), having now turned from a lemon yellow colour to a imagebeige brown, retaining their form for most of the winter. Down to the north side of the garden, past a large-leaved deciduous Cotoneaster imageimageshowing fiery red foliage, past a rather confused foxglove with its speckled ‘tongue’, and on to the rejuvenated lupins which have been spectacular this year, imagestill pushing out strong new blooms!

And we finish our tour with one of our exquisite David Austin roses. image

Clearly, even if we think Winter has arrived, Nature has other ideas, even if you do need to put on 4 layers of woollens to appreciate her wonders!