All is yellow – when it isn’t grey… (End of the Month View, October 2012)


Brrrr, it’s definitely got colder – and yesterday we had the first snow on the mountains. Happily it’s not got to me yet, though we were watching snowstorms swirling around Snowdon from the office window at one point. Brr and double brr. But the combination of lots of work (I’m not complaining, note, Freelance Gods, but that’s why I’ve been a Bad Blogger too) and darker evenings is already making a huge difference to what I can do in the garden, and there’s so much to do. Leaves, for one thing.

It’s not surprising, when I have so many trees, that I have a leaf problem. I do enjoy my trees so much and I wouldn’t have it any other way, though I tend to see it differently when I’m up to my arms in blocked gutters and the drain rods have got stuck somewhere under the house. But as soon as the sun comes out I forget all that, and I do think the end of October was marked by some pretty gorgeous colours this year.

The birches have been particularly lovely, even beating the ginkgo (normally my best for autumn colour – once the leaves have fallen off the acer, which they do with depressing speed). The sun really brings them to life, but even without it the palette of colours brings me up short.

This reminds me very much of a painting, but alas I can’t remember exactly which one; I think it was by one of the group of nineteenth-century Russian painters known as the Itinerants. That would fit, given the birch factor… Perhaps Volkov’s October, or something by Levitan? Isn’t it terrible the way things which were once part of your automatic reference system slip away? I guess your hard drive just fills up and there isn’t room for anything which isn’t accessed very often. Where was I?

Oh yes, I love the silvery trunks, the flicker of green and gold, the almost minky brown of the leaf litter. Just as well I didn’t get the rake out, then. Hum – any excuse… bit like trawling through my art books in search of a fugitive reference!

Staying in the top garden, there’s been another four-star act this month: the jasmine hedge. This always makes an impact, but more for its size and cloud pruning than for its flowers. However this year it has gone quietly mad:

I realise this perhaps doesn’t look as good as you might think, given the build up, but it is exceptional – honestly – and it is also phenomenally difficult to photograph. I hadn’t realised how much it changed with the light or how waxy the flowers were until I started trying; another indirect benefit of blogging. It made me really look, and I wouldn’t have done so otherwise.

Away from the rather acidic yellow of the jasmine, the Rosa rugosa hedges are now almost clear. There are very few undamaged hips hanging on this year, possibly a testament to the generally poor year for fruit – the birds have been at it early for want of anything else. And something’s been finishing off any hips which drop to the ground, as well:

Down in the new bed in the bottom garden, there are still some things in flower. Oh, I’ve got a few marigolds hanging on, and the Viburnum has started, but that’s it for elsewhere. In the bottom garden I’ve still got tons of Nicotiana, cosmos and even one achillea. There’s a tiarella which has just started up again,

and a whole rash of hardy geraniums. This has really strengthened my resolve; it’s just what I wanted to achieve when we created the new bed, and it’s spread to other parts of the bottom garden, too. This winter we’re revamping the large bed behind the new one, so hopefully my EOMV for October next year will contain much more floral interest. And maybe more hardy geraniums; I think I’m falling back in love with them:

Work has started on that bed; the overgrown New Zealand hebe is toast (or it will be, once I have a bonfire), and the clethra is coming out next week, once I borrow a mattock. And the Great Hedge of West Wales has finally lost its outrageous Mohican, so I can see the horizon again:

Definitely an improvement. It’s being cut twice next year…


22 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    I love the idea of cloud pruned winter jasmin, I’m sure it looks fabulous. the last image of the sky says it all; autumn light, beautiful! Christina

    1. kate says:

      It would look better without the Giant Bramble which it currently shelters. Seriously, it’s in need of a haircut, a substantial haircut since it’s got a bit blurry, and that will give us a chance to crawl into it and remove the bramble…

      I do like autumn – when it’s not raining. Or hailing.

  2. Anna says:

    Your trees are looking glorious in their autumn colours Kate. I’ve been cursing leaves this week on a much smaller scale but would not be without them. Most of my hardy geraniums have shed their last flowers now but ‘Bob’s Blunder’ and ‘Dilys’ are two absolute stalwarts and are still flowering 🙂

    1. kate says:

      I actually remembered to trim my geraniums after their first flowering (much to my surprise), and I think that helped – they’re even better the second time round. I must check out those two – always up for another hardy geranium!

  3. Cathy says:

    As Christina said, the last picture is stunning and I would love to see a picture showing the cloud formation of your jasmine hedge. Do you have another picture in your blog? I suppose I could search and see. Like Anna, I can put up with the leaves at this time of year for joy of having the trees, although we have cut a lot back this year to regain some light.

    1. kate says:

      Well, it’s a pig to shoot, not just because of the colour of the flowers reflecting so much light, but also because it’s in an awkward place (and with a backdrop of affordable housing – not that there’s anything wrong with that, we really need more; just that I think my neighbours may not want their homes on t’internet). There’s one on the Garden Tour page, though, which gives an impression of its sheer size.

      And of the fact that it needs a haircut. When it’s finished flowering!

  4. wellywoman says:

    I do love the idea of being able to watch snow storms in Snowdonia for my study. My desk faces a wall which is a bit of a bummer. One day I’ll have a study with a view but I do have a very lovely painting to look at. No frost here yet and just lots of rain. Not had much chance to enjoy the autumn colours this year which is a shame. Enjoy your post though brought some autumnal colour to my screen.

    1. kate says:

      It is a bit distracting, to say the least… fortunately I’m only at that client once a week, otherwise I don’t think I’d get much done. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it and don’t give it a second glance; do you still appreciate your painting? (My own office is in the basement. I know me – willpower of a maggot.)

      The weather will have put paid to a lot of the leaves now – we had heavy sleet in the night. Brrrrrrr.

  5. patientgardener says:

    Well I was impressed with your jasmine but thats probably because mine hasnt got any flowers which is probably my fault due to brutual pruning and moving. What is that geranium, has it got dark leaves, very pretty.
    I also love birches but so far have resisted washing the bark as some do!
    Thanks for joining in this month and hopefully the snow will stay away for a while

    1. kate says:

      I think – think – the geranium may be Bertie Crug, as that’s what the label says but I’m not altogether sure it’s in the right place, and two have merged together a bit anyway. Yup- really chocolatey brown leaves. Delicious. I think if I washed my birches the neighbours would definitely be calling the men in the white coats. As it is, they’re only thinking about it.

      Thanks for hosting, Helen – it’s such a useful discipline!

  6. Dobby says:

    No trees in my garden but lots of leaves from next door!
    It was raining when I left for work yesterday but as I got further up the hill, it turned to sleet. Lovely photo’s of your garden. I do love the colours of Autumn.

    1. kate says:

      I think your borrowed trees are every bit as useful!

      Sleet here overnight, also thunder and lightening. Mountains look pretty, though….

  7. All of those leaves do seem as if they belong in an autumn painting. Your photos are beautiful and so is your garden. We still have some color and that will last for another few weeks.

    1. kate says:

      They do, don’t they? And – as a woolly person who spins – I really want to spin something up that reflects their colours, too. I’m afraid we’ll be lucky if our autumn colour lasts the week. Suspect it will be a miracle if it lasts the weekend… enjoy yours!

  8. VP says:

    I have a lovely spread of Cyclamen under the tree in the front garden this year. Like your Jasmine they’re proving tricky to photograph, hence my lack of bloggage about them 😉

    I’m chuckling at your full up hard drive – it reminds me of an Alexei Sayle sketch where he was philosophising on how the brain gets full up after a while and you have to forget one thing in order to remember a new thing. It’s becoming awfully familiar!

    1. kate says:

      That’s interesting – I didn’t have as many as usual (but just as hard to capture)… I do with plants would co-operate!

      Alexei Sayle is right, on this and so much else!

  9. Kate I have to say when I see fallen leaves all I think of is lovely leafmold compost, my few small trees are producing more leaves but not enough to do anything serious with, love the upwards photo from under the Silver Birch, the cloud pruned jasmin hedge sounds wonderful, the yellow flowers must look like jewels when the sun catches them, brrr is right it is feeling cold, keep warm, Frances

    1. kate says:

      You’ve got it bang on with the jasmine flowers – they really sparkle!

      I don’t have the patience really for leafmould production, nor – like you – do I really have enough leaves. It would take ages to fill one frame – but I’ve got so many trees. Where do all the leaves go? I suppose the answer is that they get blown up the hill / out to sea, depending on the prevailing wind. Oh well…

  10. elizabethm says:

    I am another admirer of your hedge. I wonder if I could do that. Have you any idea how old it is? Love all your autumn colours too.

    1. kate says:

      None whatsoever, unfortunately. The chap who owned this house before me – he was always known as ‘the Wing Commander’ and had been a Battle of Britain pilot – was a very keen gardener and may have planted it when he and his wife came here in the 1960s. He died in ’96 (his widow just maintained everything and didn’t do much) and there are some photos of the house then; it looks well-established.

      I’d love to know more, but no chance of that now….

  11. I really miss my birches, so it was good to enjoy yours. Fabulous geranium, there don’t appear to be any in this garden, something I plan to change pdq! Your jasmine hedge looks wonderful – is all that from a single plant? Surely not…

    1. kate says:

      I can’t believe you haven’t got any geraniums – they grow so well round here (well, they do that everywhere, I guess, but they do seem especially good in our climate; just as well something does). I’ve no idea on the jasmine hedge; I don’t imagine so but it is about 5 feet wide so I’ve never really got in there to explore. Except when trying to get as far back into an intrusive bramble as possible, that is.

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