Autumn interval…

It stopped raining. Well, we had a few days when it didn’t rain all day, that is. And the sun’s even been out. The meadow even got its seasonal haircut (still has to get its seasonal removal of hay, mind, and thank you, misbehaving weather gods).

I braved the squidgyness of the bottom lawn, and it was truly squidgy – rain runs down the paths and disappears into the lawn / beds / paths – because I thought I glimpsed something deep in the darkness under the camellias, perhaps a crisp wrapper that had got blown in. I was wrong:

Finally – after three years. Lots of leaves during that time but very little fruiting action, though they’re making up for it this year with about eight spikes. Arum italicum, of course – and I did buy it for the leaves and not the berry stalks, but they are fabulous. Hee hee – quite cheered me up.

So then I decided to have a proper look around, rather than one concentrating on all the jobs which need doing, and there are lots of other reasons to be cheerful as well. The colours are just beginning; the birches and the ginkgo haven’t quite got going, but my Amelanchier is wonderful.

Partly obscured, admittedly, by the Portugal Laurel of Doom and the hedge’s Mohican haircut – we’ve still got to get the scaffolding in to do the top – but it’s gorgeous. The blueberry, which has provided quite a few impromptu snacks this year as I remembered to net it in time, is astonishing.

But not as astonishing as one of the lilies. Only one, but it’s bizarre. I don’t ever remember it doing this before, and I’ve had it for years. It’s quite impressive in normal light but once the sun gets behind it, it’s fantastic:

Why has it done this – that is, done it this year and not others? I know it’s supposed to be a spectacularly good autumn this year in parts of North Wales, but I was up in Betws y Coed and the Conwy Valley yesterday, one of the places that was mentioned in the media, and it didn’t seem to be any better than usual. Lovely, but nothing particularly exceptional (not that I’m complaining).

One of my pear trees has turned, though the other fruit trees have just dumped most of their leaves on the grass without them changing colour first. Er, except for the very old pear which dumps black leaves on the lawn, but then it does have fire blight like a lot of the elderly fruit trees round me. The hardy geraniums are also beginning to turn, but they usually get very bright and they’re a little subdued.

Still lovely, though (why can’t I buy this colour in yarn, I wonder), even if it is just the odd leaf or two. Swings and gardening roundabouts once again.

Some of the less deliberately cultivated plants are going a bit mad. In some cases this in unexceptional; the wall between me and the wildy bit, for instance, is always infested with Old Man’s Beard. We rip it out and claw it down from the apple trees, try to remove it from the Rosa rugosa hedges as best we can and encourage it to sprawl over the corrugated iron roof of the old outside loo. Right now it’s worth hanging on to, especially over the roof of the ty bach, because it does this:

I can forgive it quite a bit for that!

When I was growing up I knew about Old Man’s Beard, or I’d read about it, anyway. It was mentioned in some of the books I adored (often featuring camping out in the woods and/or hobbits), but I’d no idea what it was actually like as it didn’t grow round us. When I was a student I went down to lunch with the parents of a friend who lived near Dorking, and we went out for a walk in the winter woods. The trees were festooned with something which looked very decorative, and I asked about it. Old Man’s Beard, and it wasn’t anything like I’d imagined. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the mad luxuriant growth I was looking at. And I never thought I’d be waging war with it in my ****** hedges.

There are still quite a few insects about, even some butterflies on the ivy which is flowering its socks off. The lavender is a lot quieter – time to cut it back now – but the garlic chives are suddenly popular.

I do like garlic chives. I moved the clumps earlier this year so they haven’t had time to bulk up, but they’re doing well. One thing, though: having herbs handy isn’t just a theoretical concept. I moved them from part of the veg patch and into the new bed in the bottom garden, and I haven’t used them once this year as a herb (they’re particularly good in a tomato sandwich). All I have to do is walk round the corner with my scissors, but do I do it? No. A lesson there, as I’ve been thinking of moving more and more herbs into the middle garden. Hm.

Ah well, time to walk round and make a list of all the rest of the autumn and winter jobs, because it’s stopped raining. For a minute.

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29 thoughts on “Autumn interval…

  1. paulinemulligan

    So glad your rain has stopped for a bit, wish ours would!! You have lots of lovely autumn colour, your lily leaves are fantastic but I can’t give you any explanation, just enjoy while you can.!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      (Sniff)

      It didn’t stop, it just went quiet. But it’s not raining this morning, though everything is beyond squishy now and the lily looks horrible. At least I captured it for posterity!

      Reply
  2. wellywoman

    Raining here in South Wales. Soggy doesn’t describe it. Some of the leaves have started to turn here but not many. We haven’t had any frosts yet so maybe when that happens there start to look more autumnal. My blueberries look spectacular though. Just wish it would stop raining long enough to get a photo. That lily is spectacular didn’t know they did that. I got the same surprise from my arum this year. It was an offshoot of a plant in the grounds of the college I was at a few years ago. Just a tiny little piece which has bulked up enough to now flower. 🙂

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Maybe it’s a good year for Arums, then – another thing to chalk up as a plus. I’m not sure it balances the rain out, though. OK, perhaps not. We haven’t had a frost yet either, though I did think we might last week and moved some of my geraniums in case. That’s typical – if I’d left them out, I’m sure we would have been well below freezing.

      I’m going for another consoling look at the Arums!

      Reply
  3. croftgarden

    It’s raining here too but for once it’s not blowing.
    Arums are greatly underrated – have you discovered Arisemas? Fantastic aroids with winderful leaves and spathes, easy to grow, but they have a rather distinctive aroma – something to do with being pollinated by flies! However, I can forgive their antisocial traits and grow them with enthusiasm.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      OO, they sound lovely – I’ve Googled and I need those! I don’t think I care about the smell, though I’m thoroughly intrigued; if anything, it’s made me more likely to try them out…

      Reply
      1. croftgarden

        If you are really keen, send me your e-mail address – you can find my contact details on the croft garden cottage website, you find a link on my blog under Hebridean Connections on the side bar.

        Reply
  4. Cathy

    Your post made me want to run down the garden and check my amelanchier – the way I have enclosed bits of the garden I can’t see it from a distance, and being a bit on the short side myself I have to rember to look UP when I am next to it! It’s great to discover plants ‘doing’ things unexpectedly – since I started posting on Garden Bloggers Blooms and Foliage days I find myself looking around in a different way when I ramble round the garden, always aware of potential photo victims! It’s a good discipline, though, making me slow down and observe, just as you have done in this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s really stupid, but because of the position of my Amelanchier I didn’t notice it at all for a couple of years – like you, I’m on the short side, and the tree is not. Liked they grey bark; didn’t think about looking into the sky. I’m glad it’s not just me!

      Isn’t it interesting? I’ve noticed that too, though I’ve got very lazy about GBBD posts. I must start again, and I will. Monday is GBBD. Let’s see if I can manage it!

      Reply
  5. Christina

    It’s even threatening rain here too! But mostly it has been perfect weather to garden. I enjoyed your walk around, thre are some lovely colours there. I would love to get an Amelanchier, they’re sold here as fruit trees! Do you get fruit and do you eat it. Christina

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      How interesting about the amelanchier, I didn’t know they fruited. Mine doesn’t, anyway – I wonder if you need two? Or maybe I’ve just not noticed any? (Or maybe you need to be where you are – sigh – and not in wild and wooly west Wales…)

      Reply
  6. Dobby

    Well Kate, it has been raining on my side of the bay just about all day. I do love the colours of Autumn. Am off out deep into the country side tomorrow to discover how the trees are getting on. We have had a couple of cold mornings (almost frosty), so hopefully the colour will be good.
    I do like your old mans beard. Very impressive.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I’ve got family coming this weekend, so I’m hoping the rain holds off and we can see some autumn colour too… Llanrwst is supposed to be good. If it stops raining long enough.

      Reply
  7. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    Kate! When did it stop raining? (Apart from when you came around here for a cup of tea) I think it may have just seemed like it stopped raining but actually it hasn’t. We are still getting quite a few mm’s of water in the rain gauge in each 24 hour period.

    I have to agree about the autumn colour, some odd things this year have made some lovely colours and your Amelanchier is looking good.
    K

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It didn’t stop. It fooled me into thinking it had stopped by suddenly raining quietly instead. Hrumpf. But it’s not raining now (Fri am) and is actually looking quite good….. for how long?

      Reply
  8. VP

    Dare I say we have glorious sunshine here today? Rain due this pm if that helps you feel a bit better. I think autumn has really got going this week.

    Re the wool colour – I was pondering whether my Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’ flowers could be used as a dye the other day. I always get wonderfully stained hands when I deadhead it. It would be a wonderful wool colour if it were possible. Of course that also assumes that the colour in the ‘raw’ translates into the dye itself…

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      We’ve got sunshine today too, but big grey clouds just building up. But of course…

      In my experience of natural dyes, you’d probably get khaki. Almost everything gives you khaki. I wish plant / flower colour was a reflection of what you get when you turn things into a dye, but alas it isn’t. Except for things which are khaki. (OK, yes, there are exceptions, and I’d still have a go just in case…)

      Reply
      1. VP

        yes it was the dreaded khaki I had in mind when I commented. Funny how nature likes to turn everything to shades of mud or muddy green given half the chance…

        Reply
        1. kate Post author

          I know, it’s not fair. If there are still any elderberries on trees round you, though, they give a fantastic purple (it’s fugitive, even with a mordant, but it’s definitely not khaki).

  9. hillwards

    Glorious scarlet leaves on those lilies, and splashes of colour everywhere else. We don’t have any trees with vibrant autumn colour: birch, beech, horse chestnut and hawthorn slink off quietly for winter, while the holly, of course, stays dark and brooding. All our colour is low. In time, the witchhazel and Euonymus alatus should give higher splashes of colour, but I do keep wondering where I could squeeze a real flaming tree. I’ve *needed* a Cercis canadensis for years, just haven’t worked out where yet.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I’ve juts checked out the Cercis canadensis and I need one too! I do wish the ashes had a better attempt at autumn colour, but at least my birches do better. Mind you, they seem to be quite fussy – one year they go beautifully yellow (magnificent against a blue sky, ho ho ho), and the next they just drop. I’m hoping for yellow this year. And for blue sky. A girl can dream…

      Reply
      1. hillwards

        Isn’t the Cc glorious? My mum has one, which is pretty all year round but glorious in autumn, and I’ve hankered after my own for years. Dan Pearson grew one in a huge container in his London garden, which does make me think, surely I can squeeze one in somewhere!
        Our birches tend to have their leaves swept off by the wind before they have any chance of doing beautiful and yellow, so I’m hoping too!

        Reply
        1. kate Post author

          You are so right – I’m not sure where I’d fit one in, either, but where there’s a will there’s a large container. I shall give it some thought over the next few days – I could do with some amazing autumn colour somewhere, and not just near the lilies.

          My birches are lashing about right now, but the leaves seem to have been stuck on with Araldite. It’s supposed to be colder this weekend, so I daresay that will change matters….

  10. Crystal

    I too have a lovely autumn display of blueberry leaves. At last I’m getting some benefit from the plants. Unlike yourself, I forgot to net them. The birds had a banquet.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      This is the first year I’ve remembered – and the bush did look ridiculous, but it was worth it. Must remember for 2013…

      Reply
  11. welshhillsagain

    I am so pleased to see your amelanchier. I have one by the drive and some in the hedges but have just bought three to plant together as part of screening for the shepherd’s hut. I dithered for quite a while about the possibility of using white stemmed birch which we have elsewhere but went for amelanchier on the promise of what it does in the autumn. Yours looks fabulous!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Mine is gorgeous – or perhaps that should be ‘was’, now. The winds during the night were bad, and worse is promised for later today. I don’t know – 25 years ago exactly I was woken by howling winds and falling trees in London, and last night it was very windy in Wales from about 2 a.m. sHaven’t been out to check for branches yet, but apparently we’re in for more this afternoon… don’t expect there’ll be much left on the Beauty after that. Never mind, pretty while it lasted!

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Definitely hope. I’d forgotten all about mine, to such an extent that I’d allowed the camellia to flop all over them….

      Reply

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