1 Nov 2015

Autumn, you're looking good

Wisteria seedpods replacing the ubiquitous golden and red leaves of autumn. Gorgeous, aren't they?


This post has been a while in the writing.  I got a bit stuck because when I went looking for autumn, it just wasn't there. My mid-October trip up to Capel Manor gardens to meet up with friends provided me with lots of late summer planting inspiration but, apart from lots of acorns underfoot, autumn hadn't yet got started; trees were in full leaf, flowers were blooming and the sun was shining. Then we had the clocks going back which, although being a publicly devised event, seemed to be a signifier for the season to change. The ornamental cherry I can see from my second floor window has obliged by turning gold.


Also last weekend, as I went through my Capel photos and prepared to write a 'late summer' post, I was taken aback by a British gardener on Instagram writing "Winter's coming. Autumn's last days." Already? Surely not! The sun was shining and people were picnicking on Primrose Hill in t-shirts. Not a cosy cardigan in sight.  And besides, I've always thought of autumn as occurring between September and November, with fading summer at one end and the slow transition into the shorter and colder days ahead at the other. Winter months are then December to February (makes sense, no?) and, in March to May (Spring!), the garden starts to wake and we prepare for the year ahead. Anyone agree?

So here we are, a week later, and it seems that the tipping point has been reached.  We are now properly into autumn here; leaves are dropping and the veg patch's summer produce is winding down.  My creative brain is looking out for fallen leaves of all colours for a future arty moment, and thinking about evergreen foliage for festive wreaths, while my gardener's eye spots seeds to collect all around the neighbourhood.  Little brown paper envelopes are filling up with seeds of deep red salvia, maroon and pink hollyhocks, Cerinthe, Calendula, fennel, sweet rocket, sweet peas, Cavolo Nero and Achocha (the South American peppers that I grow). My chilli plant has optimistically been brought indoors.

This morning there was a deep mist hanging over north London after yesterday's sunshine; it didn't last as the sun burnt through to give us another day of clear blue skies. I have quite a bit to do in the garden still so I'm going to make the most of the dry weather while it lasts, particularly as I spent last Saturday digging out concrete posts in a friend's garden in constant drizzle! And for the rest of November I'll be enjoying autumn and prepping the garden for the winter months to come.

What are your thoughts - when does winter start for you? Have you wrapped up the garden or still enjoying a few lingering moments of summer glory?


As I don't want to just dump the photos that I took at Capel to the depths of Flickr, let's celebrate what could be growing in your gardens at the moment.

Magnolia bud, Passionflower, Ornamental ginger (Hedychium densiflorum 'Assam Orange') 

All these are perfect for late season pollinators:
Salvia cacaliifolia, Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendall Clarke', Aconitum

The Daisy/Asteraceae family: Rudbeckia, Dahlia, Calendula

More daisies … and, hopefully, more bees!

Sunshine colour from  evergreen Libertia peregrinans, muted tones of Hydrangea 'Dark Angel' and I have no idea what this last plant is.  All suggestions welcome! 

Looking good at this moment: Shortly to slump Sedum, Callicarpa aka 'Beauty Berry' in its one annual moment of glory and Leycesteria formosa, boring all year but lovely seed pods in autumn. 





17 comments:

  1. Some beauties there, I don't think I've ever had seed pods on wisteria quite like that. I'd agree on the dates, taking the calendar month approach makes sense to my simple brain.

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    1. I've never seen wisteria seed pods before, Jessica, so was completely bowled over by them. Shows what a good year it's been for seeds!

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  2. I'm with you, winter is December to February. Masses of fog here today, it didn't lift at all so I spent the afternoon in the gloom watching football. Could hardly see anything on the way home. Fabulous groups of photos, and those wisteria pods are amazing, so tropical looking, as is the magnolia bud. CJ xx

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    1. It's a hard one, knowing where winter begins and I remember masses of snowfall in January when I was a child. I suppose it can be cold in November and warm in February (I recall t-shirts at half term when my son was young!) but that's rare. I like to think that spring is when I can start my gardening year again!

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  3. I'm completely with you on the seasonal divisions Caro. Winter and Christmas do not get a look in until 1st December which also happens to be our wedding anniversary. I think that your beautiful geranium is wallichianum 'Buxton's Blue' which is easily grown from seed. An April sowing can result in flowers in the first year :) 'Mrs Kendall Clarke' usually flowers much earlier in the year. Could your mystery plant be lobelia tupa?

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    1. Yep, December 1st for winter it is! And I prefer to keep Christmas at bay for as long as possible! I'm pleased you've put me right on the geranium cultivar as I went by the label next to the plant. I've checked online and Mrs Kendall Clarke looks to be more overall blue with white veins. Tut, tut, Capel labellers! Thanks for the tip about Lobelia tupa, I'd never have got there!

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  4. Yep, autumn is Sep to Nov; winter is Dec to Feb. That's how I've thought of it ever since primary school! I've never seen wisteria seed pods before – how interesting. Lovely photos of gorgeous late summer/autumn colour. I was going to suggest your mystery plant could be a lobelia but no idea which one or whether it is indeed a lobelia!

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  5. Gosh yes don't let's bring winter any nearer than necessary. Lovely pix especially the Hydrangea 'Dark Images'. And if I had a bigger garden I would find room for Callicarpa even if only for putting in a vase. But in a relatively small space I find I need longer performances from my chosen plants.

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    1. I agree! I'm not ready for winter yet and when it comes I'd like it crisp, cold and blue please! I was the only person on my course that put my hand up to liking Callicarpa - and that was because of the gorgeous berries. There's one growing in a front garden near where I live and I'm always tempted to take my secateurs with me on walk pasts …. heh, heh.

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  6. Winter definitely starts on December 1st, in this house anyway! You have lots of beautiful photos of the plants at Capel, their garden must be looking beautiful at the moment.. I agree with Anna that your mystery plant looks like Lobelia tupa.

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    1. Thanks for identifying the mystery plant, Pauline. It will now be forever lodged in my brain. What a clever lot you all are! The Capel gardens were beautiful when I went, so much still to see and the sun shining. It was a really good day out. And, yes, let's keep winter banging on the door until December!

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  7. Lovely autumn photos. Aren't the leaves beautiful this year, especially with a blue sky behind them. Winter definitely doesn't start until December... it's a long enough season as it is, without extending it into November!

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    1. Thank you! I think this year has been spectacular for everything - wonderful harvests, amazing berries - and so many! - and now glorious leaves. It's good to put a name to the start of December as I still have to plant up a few more tulips (must stop buying them in the shops!) so this prolonged mild weather is suiting me rather well.

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  8. The wisteria pods are amazing. I get a few seed pods forming most years but nothing like that. Summer seemed to extend into October this year which made up for the very slow start to summer after a rather lovely spring I seem to remember.

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  9. It was lovely seeing so much in bloom....my garden is more or less full of berries.
    Those wisteria seedpods are amazing! They put me in mind of broad beans! I agree with your take on the seasons, autumn is certainly in full swing here. This is such a lovely time for collecting seeds and gathering evergreens and berries for winter decorations.xxx

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  10. Do you know I have never noticed seed pods am out wisteria before? You managed to collect quite a variety of photographs too.

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  11. autumn can be a busy time of year, even with the garden 'winding down', there is much tidying up to be down - I find it a very satisfying time of year, all that end-of-summer gardening activity. enjoy it!

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