Monday, 2 November 2015

Awesome autumn

I love this time of year - the smells, the light, the colours. The garden is preparing to enter a mostly dormant phase, which means that I get to spend time planning for next year's plants to acquire, gardens and plant fairs to visit and new cakes to bake for our NGS garden openings.
Raindrops on Acer leaves


Leaf colours change each day, enhanced when lit by the low autumn sunshine. Some plants and trees are known for their spectacular autumn colour such as Acer (maple) and Cornus (dogwood), but many plants have foliage that changes colour as they slowly move towards hibernation.
An Acer with finely-divided leaves

The leaves of Agapanthus turning butter-yellow

The leaves of Cotinus develop intricate mottling 

During the year this Acer has dark red leaves and in autumn it turns fiery shades of orange

We were lucky enough to inherit a very large Acer
Berries, hips and fruits add intense dots of colour and are an invaluable source of food for the birds over winter.
Red berries of a Pyracantha (firethorn), a thorny evergreen shrub loved by birds, with the hooded blue flowers of climbing Aconitum austroyunnanse (monkshood)

The berries of a Mahonia

Crab apples

Crab apples



The seeds of Arum Miss Janay Hall in front of Hosta Orange Marmalade

The rose hips of Rosa Francis E Lester, which we have trained up the apple tree
Some plants wait until autumn to start flowering. Kaffir lilies (formerly Schizostylis, now Hesperantha - neither of which name I can remember when asked!) comes in shades of white, pink and red. They like moist, well-drained soil and sun, but they seem to flower just about anywhere for us.














Also of interest in the garden at the moment - the fruit of Akebia quinata (chocolate vine).
Fruit that is 4 inches long is produced from delicate chocolate-scented, wine-coloured flowers


Our to-do list

Planting bulbs - I find it hard to visualise where I will want bulbs to flower next spring, so I plant them in groups in plastic pots then wait until spring to position them in the garden.

Protecting non-hardy plants - we are keeping an eye on the weather forecast for cold nights and will move potted tender plants into our lean-to greenhouse soon. When the night temperature gets close to freezing we will protect those plants that will be staying out in the garden.

Leaf mould - we fill a column of chicken wire with all the leaves that we collect and then leave it alone. The leaves from two years ago have turned into lovely leaf mould. We will use it to mulch some of the beds that need feeding or are a little too free-draining, then fill the empty container with the leaves that fall this year. Leaf mould takes a little patience, but it can't be bought and it really is wonderful for the garden.

Baking apples - do a search for Delia Smith's recipe for baked apples with pecans and maple syrup - it's delicious and very easy! I have a feeling that we will be having it for dessert after every Sunday roast dinner until the apples run out.