Evening in the garden (a not-at-all wordless Wednesday)

We had a surprisingly good day yesterday weatherwise, so I made the most of it given that I’ve no deadline to ignore and panic about later work towards. I had an appointment for a row discussion in the bank necessitating a tedious trip through Holiday Central, came home and washed everything in sight, even scoured part of a fleece from the biggest sheep in the world (I’m not mad, just a spinner), and decided the iris bed needed re-weeding… and then it was evening, and I was wrecked. So I collapsed in the garden with a cuppa, and I noticed – I evidently needed reminding – the beautiful effects of the evening light (the house faces west).

evening pots

I also realised how the year has suddenly moved into downshift. Yes, I’m cropping beans and tomatoes and spuds and courgettes and blueberries and wineberries and using the shallots and garlic, but there’s an unmistakeable whiff of autumn on the way. And the Welsh for July, Gorffennaf, is apt, after all: it’s derived from gorffen, finish, and haf, summer. The end of summer. Hopefully not entirely.

It’s partly also down to the colours,

pot mum

such as those of the two pot chrsyanths I bought from the man on the market (don’t laugh, it’s a good plant stall).  One autumn years ago I spent some time in Leiden and the ‘ball’ chrysanthemums always remind me of that, as do pyracathas in full berry. Haven’t got one of those (haven’t got a white-painted house on a canal near the botanic garden either but hey ho), but I do love the chrysanths.

There’s also the fact that the lilies have gone into overdrive.


Until I started deliberately trying to address the problem, I had virtually no flowers in the garden from mid-June onwards – apart, that is, for enough lilies to kit out a 1930s movie star’s dressing room and leave some over. The numbers have declined, but the splendour of some of them most certainly has not, especially the Big White by the back door. In the evening shade it’s even more emphatic,


filling the path with its scent and impressive height (over 1.5m, aka 5 feet) and bulk. One day I’m going to have to move it out of the pot it’s been in for the last five years, but maybe not quite yet. A couple of years ago I planted some other lilies in a bed (the tulip bed in spring) when their pots succumbed to winter weather, and expected they would disappear. They haven’t.


Or at any rate, haven’t yet. I love the low angle of the evening light, too, and the way it emphasises the texture of the petals, and gives those exaggerated shadows.

Better late than never, most of the cosmos are coming into flower too. At last.


This cosmos, from Karen at the Artist’s Garden, is Psyche White, not Purity – grew that last year – and I think I prefer this. Especially against shadow!

The light also attracted me to the stump of the Western Red Cedar which came down about this time last year – it was either the tree or the house, alas. For some time the roots continued to grow but it has finally decided that it is, indeed, dead and has given up its world domination quest (leaving the other WRC in the top garden to continue the good work).


For some time I ummed and erred over the stump but in the end just decided to leave it – it’s had a few large beach pebbles on it for a while now, in a sub-Andy Goldsworthy kind of way, but an interesting ceramic would be good. I’ve said this to my brother, several times and actually quite loudly, but he appears to have suddenly developed deafness. What’s the use of having a brother who’s a potter if he can’t suddenly produce perfect garden embellishments, eh?

Of course, when it comes to autumnal, you can’t beat crocosmia. And I’ve always had those to remind me of the changing seasons; you can’t get rid of them round here. Crocosmia and fuchsias, the plants of the west. Every year I tear up great clumps of the orange bastards; every year it’s as though I hadn’t bothered. I dread to think what it would be like if I didn’t rip gallons of them up – first house ever to be buried in crocosmia, perhaps? As a plant per se, I like it, especially the rather neat flower spikes prior to opening; it’s just the sheer quantity which can be rather overwhelming. I’ve been trying to remember the alternative word to ‘invasive’ which a friend uses when doing plant sales: ah, yes – vigorous. Very, very vigorous.

And then I realised that some of the garden colours were being echoed in the sky,

sunset 1

more and more intensely as the sun went down, and photography became impossible. I hesitate to say this, but it even got a little – shhh – chilly…


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    Beautiful! Love the sky.

    1. kate says:

      Our sunsets are usually spectacular, but this year they seem particularly good. The clouds can be the most amazing colours, from indigo to palest grey. And I keep forgetting to look!

  2. Cathy says:

    Gorffennaf? July? Surely not? The garden can’t start winding down yet, can it – can it? Don’t scare me please, Kate. Glad you have kept the tree stump and it is of course the ideal place for a bit of artwork but don’t wait for your deaf brother – do it yourself. You are creative enough – and it doesn’t need to be pottery. You could even have a more temporary woven exhibit (oops – I was thinking you wove as well as spun but that is an assumption). I hereby challenge you… 😉

    1. kate says:

      I did have a load of garlic drying off on top of the stump at one stage, but I don’t think that qualifies. Most of my craft won’t tolerate being outside, but I could nail a real sheep to it I suppose!

      Seriously, it is crying out for something. Maybe I can find better (i.e. flatter) pebbles and really work the Andy Goldsworthy vibe…

  3. Dobby says:

    The sun is gone from my garden by 5pm. so I only see it in true daylight at the weekends. It is lovely to sit on the bench and watch the shadows appear and change everything though.
    I bought lots of different crocosmia last year and they are now coming out. Stunning. I too have the ‘wild’ orange ones, but I’m slowly winning.
    Strange that you haven’t published any pictures of the meadow in the evening light!!

    1. kate says:

      Yes, I’m not sure why – maybe because I took my cuppa out the front rather than the back. But the house casts a shadow over much of the meadow when the sun gets that low, too. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed just sitting in the garden! It’s not all weeding / planting / moving / weeding / planning / weeding…

  4. VP says:

    Actually, I like the pebbles – they tie in nicely with the sea you can see from the garden. But then I’ve been collecting pebbles since I could walk…

    1. kate says:

      I’ve got so many pebbles here that I’ve probably altered the geology of the garden for future generations. Maybe archaeologists of the furture will excavate the remains of the stump and decide I worshipped pebbles. They’d not be far wrong!

  5. Ellie says:

    Dear Kate
    Lovely photos. I have also detected that ‘nearly autumn’ feeling in the garden – due to the cooler temperatures, I think. I recklessly planted the species crocosmia in my very small garden about fifteen years ago and some has persisted, despite me ruthlessly pulling it out as it had indeed become too vigorous. I have since planted a less thug-like variety ‘Honey Angels’, which so far, has stayed where I planted it. (I can’t help liking the species one though and admiring its sheer tenacity!)
    Best wishes

    1. kate says:

      I’m glad it’s not just me thinking autumn… Honey Angels sounds intriguing, plus looks gorgeous – I’ve just googled it – and am almost tempted to add it – what am I saying???? The species one would probably corrupt any other and lead it down the path of unrighteousness. I have got a Lucifer, but it’s a) new and b) miles away from the rest, so hopefully it will behave.

  6. Pauline says:

    Love the beautiful evening light falling on your flowers, so much softer than earlier in the day. We too battle and wage war on montbretia, it’s a real pain spreading itself round the garden. No matter how much we pull out, there is always more coming up in new spaces, I guess we’ll always have it now! Your lilies are so beautiful and the picture of the cosmos is stunning!

    1. kate says:

      I think I’ve got mine (largely) confined to two places now – mind you, it spreads like Mad Aunt Nellie there. I’m hoping to stop it spreading right around the tree stump and I’m winning so far. Sigh…

      It’s the Cosmos that’s stunning – I was just lucky with the shot, but thanks anyway!

  7. Anna says:

    Your garden is positively glowing Kate with that softer gentler light that comes with this time of year. ‘Gorffennaf’ trips off the tongue most splendidly. You will have to give us the low down on the other months of the year as and when. Sadly I don’t know many Welsh words apart from the ones you see on road signs such as araf which again is most satisfying to say aloud. Interesting to see a photo of your cosmos ‘Psyche’. I have wondered trying it instead of ‘Purity’ – does it grow as tall ?

    1. kate says:

      Hiya Anna – yes, the light is (sometimes, ahem) wonderful, isn’t it? The Psyche Whites have been a bit battered by the wind, but I’d say they weren’t as tall as Purity. On the other hand, I rather like their frilliness, if that’s the right word. But I may return to Purity – or more likely add some – for that height. I need new cosmos seeds this year as I threw all the old ones into my old-seed-using bed…

      My favourite month is Mehefin – June… (If I’ve been in England I love to cross the border and see the road signs – araf nawr! – and be back in the world of bilingualism. Not, alas, that I am – my Welsh is terrible and I must, must do something about it.)

  8. Plantaliscious says:

    I too love the low evening light at this time of year, it illuminates things so beautifully. Your love of lilies – and the quality of yours – almost tempts me back to the dark side, but I shall resist.

    I share your crocosmia pain, though I have been pleasantly surprised (so far) at how little I have had to rip out of the front garden since the Great Clearout. On the other hand I was looking at the totally inappropriate pairing of compfrey (pale pink flowers) and crocosmia (well, you know, orange) in the back garden and briefly contemplated moving the crocosmia. But only briefly. So clearly the comfrey needs re-homing. Pity, it is so conveniently placed for harvesting.

    Love the tree stump and pebbles, maybe your brother thinks he can’t beat it?!

    1. kate says:

      We are – shh, whispering now – lily-beetle free. For the moment, though they are present the other side of the estuary….

      I know I said before that nature didn’t really clash, but that comfrey/crocosmia combo makes me wince. I’m coming to terms with the fcat that I’ll never get rid of the crocosmia so it’s just as well I like it, and that if I want to keep it under vague control I have to fill a wheelie bin in the autumn. I’m afraid you are going to have to move that comfrey – and you may well find you move some crocosmia too, of course…

      1. I know, I know, inescapable, and made worse by the presence of a pretty white aster. Its the crocosmia that has to move. Hah! Listen to me, such optimism…

        1. kate says:

          Oh, the optimism of the woman!

  9. hillwards says:

    The pebbles seem to suit the stump.
    We have similar issues with inherited crocosmia, that had been romping away before we arrived. When I dug over the garden I filled buckets and buckets with trails of corms – and still we have masses. Their leaves do look stunning for months en masse though, and when the flowers come they always surprise me with their two-tone glory. I’m trying to limit them to one rough area, pull up those that appear elsewhere in the hope I’ll weaken them eventually. I’ve added a clump of Lucifer behind them, which towers over the species ones, and a yellow one popped up last year next to the echinacea, which was rather a lovely combination.

    1. kate says:

      They do suit it, but I need some flatter ones to get a heap that doesn’t fall over when Next Door’s Cat gently plays kissy with it (odd cat and not going anywhere – least of all back to her rightful home with the ‘large mouse’ – a term copyright my brother who is clearly fooling himself – she left on the steps, agh… can think of whole new use for large beach pebbles…)

      I think you’re right to try limiting crocosmias to your rough area; if we inherit them we just have to come to terms with the fact that they’re not going anywhere either. I really like the idea of adding more varieties, not that I have the room to copy that idea, unfortunately – I’ve got them quite confined now. And I’ve even got used to the combination of crocosmia and rosa rugosa…

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