Green and gorgeous (Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day)

I really, really enjoyed looking around the garden in anticipation of this new(ish) meme, started by Christina of Creating my own Garden of the Hesperides. It is embarrassing, but I don’t spend as much time appreciating the foliage in my garden as I should. Having said that, it’s impossible to overlook at this time of year…

The birches are turning well now, but when I was looking back at last year’s photographs I was intrigued to see how different they were at exactly this time. In 2010 they were completely golden, and most of the leaves were still attached. This year, many leaves are still green and quite a lot have already blown off. They are still gorgeous,

but there is something particularly wonderful about a birch which has turned completely golden, shining against a bright blue autumn sky. Hmm.

The same applies to the rose hedges. Last year: uniformly golden, most leaves firmly attached; this year: almost bald, but what leaves remain are glorious. I think they are better – the remaining green is a good foil for the yellows, and there seems to be more variation in the colours of the leaves which have turned.

Everything has been blown about in the strong winds which have been such a marked feature of life here this year. They never really stopped – I was complaining about wind in May, June, August – I think July may have been relatively calm, or maybe I just decided there was no point whining – September and October, and I daresay I’ll go on complaining now we’re into what is always a blustery time. But there’s an upside to the gales, especially with the birches – how beautiful they are in movement. Providing they don’t actually snap, that is.

The ginkgo still has a few leaves, and lovely they are:

but it won’t be long now before they’ve all fallen. Every year it lights up the bottom garden – I’m so glad we managed to fit it in the transit van when I moved. It loves it here.

My small blueberry has had a good year too, though I didn’t manage to beat the birds to the fruit. By way of compensation, the autumn colour is good.

(The old stone sink in the background sits over the inspection trap for a pipe run; it was full of sedums and weeds – ahem, weeds and sedums – but I emptied it out, sealed up the plug hole and filled it with stones and water; birds love it. Never needed the inspection trap. Er – yet.)

And then there are some things that don’t change colour. The Arum italicum leaves have suddenly appeared. One minute there’s bare earth; the next minute, this:

and don’t they look lovely with a few additional rain drops?

So does the Melianthus major which I bought from Karen at The Artist’s Garden, mine having given up the ghost in the winter, or so I thought.

I did get two tiny shoots reappearing and, boy, are they going to be well protected this year. But I have my lovely back-up, which – having been grown from seed – is spending its first winter in my greenhouse. Soon. At present it lives in the shelter of my porch – even stronger winds are forecast for tonight, but it’s mild.

Some of my hardy geraniums have lovely autumn foliage, but it’s over for the most part. However one G. mac. album always does particularly well; it’s growing out of the front steps and gets as much sun as anything in the garden. Whether it’s that or the poor soil, I don’t know.

Another little anonymous one – actually, not that little, and it seems to be spreading which I shall encourage – has particularly lovely leaves.

And I’ve lost its label and for once didn’t record what I bought. Any guesses? (I’ve only just noticed the movement blurring the leaves at the edge – thought I was sheltering the little darling while I took its portrait. Evidently not!)

As a finale, here’s something I do know. My clethras are fabulous this year. Not so good last year – swings and roundabouts…

And guess what? It’s just started blowing a gale again, and the poor birches are lashing around. Maybe I should consider something good and fast-growing as an additional windbreak, perhaps replace the Rosa rugosa hedges with Leylandii? OK, not serious – though sometimes I do wonder…

And thanks to Christina – this is a really useful exercise which made me look at the garden differently!


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    thanks for joining in GBFD Kate. You say you don’t spend much time admiring the foliage but I think it must influence you subconciously when you choose plants, how else could there be so much lovely foliage in your garden. Christina

    1. kate says:

      I think some of it is down to all the people who have lived in my house in the last hundred years or more, though I am responsible for the birches and the clethras. But I can’t claim any credit for the huge Amelanchier, the camellias, the holly, he cherry, the Portugal laurel (ah – not sure ‘credit’ is the right word here). Perhaps my predecessors inspired me with the smaller stuff!

  2. hello Kate, you have some lovely foliage in your garden, like you many leaves have blown away before changing colour, I was given some geranium plants a few years ago and one has leaves very similar/the same as your G. mac. album only mine has a pink flower so not the same plant, I love the foliage more than the flower though I have noticed it flowers from early summer on, the light behind your Ginkgo leaves is beautiful, Frances

    1. kate says:

      Hi Frances – wonder if you’ve gt any leaves left at all now? I think most of mine – well, not the evergreens of course – blew away in the night, so just as well GBFD was a couple of days ago… I do agree with you about the G. mac – but even that’s been a bit subdued this year. Maybe it’ll do something spectacular yet.

  3. Hi Kate, I am so so glad that I am not the only one to have missed the blueberry crop. That’s the downside of growing them in pots, I just don’t want to net them, so ugly. Ah well!

    I’ve found the same as you, though I think my garden is around a week behind. My birches are still all green, though increasingly I am spotting leaf litter from them. Autumn is weird this year, so I am grateful for the chance to enjoy your autumn colours as mine may never materialise.

    1. kate says:

      Hi Janet… at least there are two of us who sacrifice our blueberries for the sake of beauty! Isn’t it an odd autumn? Relived it’s not just something particular to west Wales. My ashes are almost completely bare now – very early – as are the apples, though some leaves are haning onto the pear in the bottom garden. It’s quite sheltered, so I think that may be a sign that the wind’s the main culprit.

  4. Beautiful photos of your fall foliage! I particularly like all the various shapes of the leaves you have chosen to display.

    1. kate says:

      Thanks – and now I keep finding things I’ve missed, dur. Maybe they’ll still be here next month. Such a useful exercise!

  5. wellywoman says:

    My blueberries spent their first year on the allotment and were trussed up in mesh wrapped around tall bamboo canes. It didn’t look attractive, which is a shame since Wellyman had made some lovely oak planters for them. It was also a bit awkward to pick them so I think I will have to come up with something better for next year. It’s difficult though because they are quite sprawling bushes now. I’m always intrigued about these beautiful kitchen gardens in the magazines where there’s not a whiff of horticultural fleece or netting and yet everything is pristine and pest free and dripping with fruit.

    1. kate says:

      I think you’ve just vindicated my decision not to net mine (I think I got one before the blackbirds). If you come up with a solution do spread the word!

      (I don’t believe those mag pictures. I lived in an old houseboat once which was sold and bought by two designers. It appeared in Homes and Gardens a bit later and they’d clearly been following the photographer round with the chemical toilet, as it seemed to have disappeared. Plus it looked vast, as the wide-angle lens had been in full use… it’s all fake, or so I keep telling myself.)

  6. hillwards says:

    Fabulous foliage. I love the leaves of gingko biloba. And the interest that hardy geraniums bring in the autumn – always a bonus that isn’t at the front of my mind when choosing them, shamefully, for their flowers alone. 🙂 We’ve had some incredible winds again these past few days too, the poor trees are indeed losing their leaves before they turn in many cases. But there’s some lovely sunshine too, in between showers, so mustn’t grumble.

    1. kate says:

      Aren’t ginkgos fab? I’d always wanted one – well, ever since I saw a beauty in autumn at Kew – and so it was a real bonus to be given a rescued bonsai to tend. And it seems to be impervious to the wind, too!
      (Interesting that you’ve been plagued with these gales too – can’t remember such a windy year. Winding May, yes; windy September, yes of course – all year? Nope…)

  7. Gorgeous, I love foliage. There is more foliage than anything in the garden now although berries and rosehips are shining. It’s funny how the simplest foliage, like the hardy geranium, can be so satisfying.

    1. kate says:

      Isn’t it? I’ve just been marvelling at tiny cyclamen leaves which I managed to miss. Beautiful!

  8. Kate – I really am wondering how you managed to get your plants to stay still enough to be photographed!? I have only managed it today. (Wasn’t it glorious) Although I was interested to read that you have fewer leaves than this time last year.

    I think that this year has been windier (is that a word) than it has been for a long time in this neck of the woods.
    Lovely Autumn foliage.

    1. kate says:

      Answer – stand between plants and wind. This means rotating (and possible arrival of men in white coats), since the wind is bizarre… what a year! We’re all doomed, I tell you, we’re doooomed…

      1. The wind has been so strange just recently sort of warm (ish) and swirling from every direction in the garden ….. about those men in white coats ….

        1. kate says:

          And this is really bizarre – we had a picnic in the dunes yesterday. Sheltered from wind, which changed direction madly, and in coats but still – a picnic…

  9. I’ve always liked the leaves of the ginko. I even went as far as to plant one in our last very exposed Orkney Garden I sometimes wonder if it survived. perhaps I should make room for it in this garden. In spite of the winds you’ve got some lovely foliage.

    1. kate says:

      I’m amazed how well it survives here, and it’s pretty exposed – though probably warmer than Orkney… worth giving it a go? It was one of those plants that I took on because otherwise it would have been thrown out, and I’ve never regretted it.

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